First Published Costa News Group, October 2012



 It has to be a courageous couple to open a new business on Spain’s recession-hit Costas, but Mari and Juan, of the new Javea Port wine merchants, Bodega Puerto, are exactly that!

 Juan and Mari were unperturbed by daily gloomy economic forecasts including such baffling lofty phrases as: “ Moody’s Downgrade Spanish Bonds to Junk Status”; and “Fitch Ratings for Spain free-fall to CCC Grade”, and worse (for heaven’s sake, what does it all mean?!). Plus the instantly understandable and down-to-Earth (unlike the above) sad sight of so many ghostly business premises now empty would put off most entrepreneurs. In such a climate is it wise to start a new enterprise?

 Well an early-term report suggests that Bodegas Puerto is definitely bucking the trend and I, along with a full-house of wine tasters, went along to find out about an oasis of success in what we are led to believe is a desert of recession.

 Having opened in early June, owners Juan and Mari have been pleased with the passing trade that has slowly developed over the months. Many stopped passing and became regular customers, but now the Summer tourist consumers are being replaced by Autumn tourists and this business will again change as Winter comes along.

 In anticipation of this change and natural reduction in numbers visiting the shop, Juan and Mari asked me if I’d like to present a tasting of some of their wines as a promotional exercise. Having visited the premises and having been impressed with the variety of well chosen wines, plus gastro delicatessen-like nibbles also on offer, I accepted with alacrity.

 And, when advised of the tasting, so did the maximum forty inquisitive people, within 48 hours of notification! It seems that Juan’s pre-opening research was correct in suggesting that there is a demand for a quality wine shop in Javea Port!

 We tasted five wines, with nibbles, which were served by charming family members all delighted to help and to meet potential new clients. I made no apology for starting proceedings with Bodegas Dominio de la Vega’s Cava Brut. A consistently good sparkling wine which belies its humble price bringing faint green apple flavours to the typical Cava patisserie, bready nose.

 But that’s not the only reason why I often choose Cava from this highly-rated Utiel-Requena based bodega. With Domino de la Vega Cavas you know exactly what you are getting  – just look at the back label. Here, unlike most Cavas (and Champagnes and other sparklers), you’ll see the month of disgorgement clearly printed.

 This records the month when the sediment (dead yeast cells) that caused the secondary fermentation (which is how the bubbles arrived!) is ejected from the bottle. The Cava was then immediately ready to drink and indeed will be for the next nine to twelve months. After this time (roughly, it’s not a precise science) the wine will slowly start to fade. Of course without the date on the label how do consumers know if the sparkling wine is likely to still be in good condition? Answer – we don’t!

 I applaud Bodegas Dominio de la Vega for taking this stance, their voice in the wilderness should be joined by a huge choir of all makers of sparkling wine singing the same song!

 All the next wines were made under the auspices of the famous Rioja bodega, Ramon Bilbao – which I’m sure many readers will have seen and probably tasted too. However their first wine of the evening wouldn’t perhaps have been recognised immediately as a Ramon Bilbao wine – it’s white, and it comes from DO Rueda!

 I wonder if Monte Blanco, produced by Bodegas Ramon Bilbao in DO Rueda is the result of a decision some years ago by the bodega owners to produce a white wine but out of the Rioja area and therefore not having to use the Viura grape variety? (please see Cork Talk past articles White Rioja Parts One and Two).

 No matter, the point is that this Verdejo wine has lovely, inviting bright lime green tones with hints of pure gold. The flavour is classic crisp Verdejo – asparagus, mountain herbs, long thin Italian green peppers, gooseberry and under-ripe kiwi. It’s super stuff and under 6€!

 You’d be hard-pressed to recognise also that Lucero del Alba, from Rioja’s arch enemy Ribera del Duero, is also made by Ramon Bilbao – there’s no mention of it on the label. But Bodegas Cruz De Alba is part of the group and here responsible for a Roble wine, that is a wine with some oak and bottle ageing but deliberately not enough for it to be called a Crianza.

 Juicy fruit with a noticeable acidity on first opening mellows quickly to be a fruit-led wine but with some depth provided by the American oak. After ten minutes or so just enjoy the caramel and dark fruit aromas wafting out of the glass!

 Ramon Bilbao Crianza 2009 is made from 100% Tempranillo and has had more time in oak and bottle to produce a classic Rioja style Crianza. There’s a nice balance between dark red fruit, some lighter loganberry and herby notes, particularly bay leaf, with the vanilla of the oak. Easy and delightful drinking, and with food.

 Their Reserva 2006 is a dinner table wine and if you open this wine in the UK or anywhere else in the world, you’ll instantly be transported (beam me up Scotty!) to Spain. It speaks of Spanish wine and of course specifically of La Rioja. Tempranillo is joined by the highly perfumed Graciano and the meaty, darkly coloured Mazuelo (aka Cariñena) varieties – a typical Rioja triumvirate. Bay leaves and a very distant thyme and mineral note with roasted coffee beans, coconut and dark blackberry fruit help to make this a flavoursome and deep, complex wine.

 Needless to say – they’re all available at Bodega Puerto! and – are you interested in learning more about wine appreciation, individual and small group courses available!

Received with thanks after Bodega Puerto Wine Tasting, Javea Port

Hi Colin,

 What a lovely evening – excellent place with good, attentive staff; nice audience (some old friends plus we made some new friends); super wines and, of course, your entertaining and informative chat. Well worth the effort and good value too. Many thanks. We enjoyed the evening enormously.

See you Sunday, [at the Olive Tree Restaurant, Moraira for Sunday Lunch with Dolce Divas],

 Cheers, Mick