Wine Tasting Lunch at Restaurante Canali, Javea/Benitachell

Thank you Colin for an excellent wine tasting lunch yesterday at Restaurante Canali. It was a perfect setting with great wines and delicious food! Excellent pairing of wines with the menu. Well done Colin! A brilliant way to spend a birthday! Thank you! Jane Tovey

First in the series of wine tastings for small Groups from Sweden!


In September and October I’ll be presenting a series of wine tastings for small groups of Swedish people who are visiting Spain, combing various activities with the opportunity to experience a little Spanish culture, and some sunshine!


The Iberian peninsular, even if we take Portugal out of the equation, though still include the islands, is a rather large area, no? And, as Cork Talk readers know full well, there are many, many wine producing zones here in Spain.


It’s clear therefore that there is rather a large number of wines from which to choose. My job, although hugely enjoyable, is also tough! I like to include at least one wine from a world famous wine producing area. However, I also like to champion the cause of the smaller, less famous areas. Plus, I’m a great believer in promoting local wines too!


So, for the first groups at least (I’ll probably ring, or pop, as in cork, the changes as time goes on) I’ve chosen, for the ‘famous areas’ – Cava. I’m a great believer in Cava, as regular readers will know. For ‘smaller, less famous’ I’ve chosen DO Yecla, another favourite area of production for me, as well as DO Terra Alta, where there is some great winemaking going on the moment. And for ‘local’ I’ve actually chosen a white wine from DO Valencia and another red from DO Utiel-Requena.


I think it’s a good balance, and I’m hoping that the always very appreciative Swedish attendees will agree!

Our cava, is not just any cava! I’ve mentioned Premium Cavas in Cork Talk before – these are the Reserva and Gran Reserva cavas that, for me, distinguish Cava as one of the foremost sparkling wines of the world, always equalling Champagne in quality, and often beating it!


Cava producers, Canals i Munné have been mentioned here before too! Their Cava ‘Adn’ Brut Nature Gran Reserva, priced at well under 20€ is made with two of the classic cava varieties, Macabeo and Parellada, plus it has 30% Chardonnay in the blend. It really is a winning combination, and when you include aging on its lees ‘en rima’, for a lengthy 48 months (easily exceeding the minimum 30 months for Gran Rerervas!) – well you have something a little bit special!


For white wine, I’ve gone for a favourite of mine since its inception several years ago. Cullerot (meaning tadpole, in Valenciano you’ll know why when you see the label!). A super wine which is made with each variety (Chardonnay, Pedro Ximénez [yes, PX, of sherry fame, but as dry as you like here!], local variety Verdil and, linking nicely with the above, Macabeo) being fermented separately. Then, blending takes place and the almost finished wine is placed in huge, underground ‘tinajas’, clay amphorae, with its lees, for a further 6 months of ageing. You have to try it!


I’m a fan of rosado wines and Llumí Rosat from Celler Alimara, DO Terra Alta is a firm favourite. It’s made with 100% Garnacha grapes and is certain to make those who think rosé wine is just for girls, think again! Perfumed, yes, with raspberries, under-ripe strawberries, a touch of pomegranate and wisp of ripened cranberry; but also full and lasting on the palate. Excellent paella wine, by the way!


My great friends at Bodegas Castaño, DO Yecla, make a large range of wines, every one of them excellent value for money, from those retailing at under 3€ all the way through to their flagship wines that cost 30+€. I decided to go for the one which has consistently been given 90 points and above in the Robert Parker guides, since its first release, quite a few years ago now, when it earned 93 points out of 100. And this for a wine that still retails for under 7€!


Made with elderly Monastrell grapes the wine is placed in oak barricas, 80% French and the other 20% American (incidentally, it sells out every year in the USA!) for no more than six months. The lovely plum and damson fruit is to the fore, with some oak back-up for depth and added flavour and aromas.


The final wine will be from Bodegas Pigar, made by my pal, the slightly rebellious, Juan Piqueras up in the rolling, mountainous hills of Utiel-Requena. Here, the indigenous Bobal, queen of all she surveys, gives of its best, and Juan’s version is proud to be among the best that the area can offer. Cherries, light, dark and Picota are the fruits involved here, with some mountain herb notes, a little minerality and a depth of flavour that would surely make you think it cost twice as much!


First Swedish tasting tonight (as I write) – I can’t wait! Facebook Colin Harkness

Twitter @colinonwine

Musical Dinner with Paired Wines

Hi Col,
You excelled yourself once more by introducing us to Restaurante Puerto Blanco in Calpe, an inspired choice of venue. We both enjoyed fantastic food and impeccable service complemented by your excellent choices of wine from Bodegas Castaño.
You even managed to persuade Raquel from that bodega to be part of the evening.
Not only that but we were splendidly entertained by the lovely Claire-Marie who sang beautifully and gave us some haunting flute pieces.
The whole evening was very special and your descriptions of each wine were educational and fun. Roll on your next wine and food pairing evening.
Cheers, Mick

Received from Maureen and John, October 2012 – a copy of their letter to Costa Blanca News Editor!

[Dear Editor],

I cannot thank you enough for a brilliant day out. Heavy rain was threatened and so we thought forget the beach and go to a winerie. I contacted you so that I could get in touch with Colin Harkness who writes Cork Talk each week.

We asked Colin to recommend a winerie about an hour from El Campello and he suggested the Bodegas Castano in the centre of Yecla. He provided all the contact details and we phoned Raquel and got there at 11.30.

Raquel is really personable, very knowledgeable and fluent in English. She drove us up to a boutique winerie in the hills in a very beautiful location called Puerta. All you can see for miles are vines, almond and olive trees. We had a tour there and then back to the main winerie in Yecla which is easy to find as it is next to the bullring. Another tour and then a tasting with some snacks and then a few case of wine to buy. We left at 2.30, a very pleasant 3 hours for just 7 euro each. Raquel suggested the bullring restaurant for lunch which had a very reasonable menu deldia and they allowed us to visit the bullring and museum.

You can contact Colin, and he also has a website

Next summer we are going out to Yecla again but there will be 10 of us. If you have a party of 10 or more they organise a full day’s tour, tasting and a lunch in their stunning restaurant for 27 euro a head for the full day and we will certainly keep in touch with Colin and hope to attend some of his tastings in theAlicante area. As it was the rain held off which made the visit even more enjoyable.

Sent by email,  Maureen and John Yates

A selection of the wines available at Bodegas Castaño - where the super Monastrell grape variety is King!