Top Spanish Wine Cork Talk Influencers 2018!


Why, oh why do I annually set myself these difficult tasks? Christmas Day Wines, the Cork Talk Top Ten, Recommended Christmas Presents, Cork Talk Highlights – and more!

Well, on the one hand it’s enjoyable to review the year and use the 52 Cork Talks I’ve written as research for the above; nevertheless it’s also a veritable agony to include some, whilst leaving out others! Plus, there are many other Spanish Wine influencers, about whom I’ve read, but whose wines I’ve yet to taste and whose stories I’ve yet to write for Cork Talk. So, here I am again writing a list, of people, knowing that, because of space restrictions, I will have to omit some of the eponymous Movers and Shakers, who really should be included!

I make no apologies for mentioning once again here in Cork Talk, Pepe Mendoza, who took over the winemaking reigns of the family owned Bodegas Enrique Mendoza several years ago, whose HQ is, believe it or not, but a few of kilometres from Benidorm. When Pepe and other family members succeeded their father, Enrique, along , he continued with the wines that had established the winery as one of the best in Spain.

But, that wasn’t enough for the man who, in the space of just two years, was voted the best winemaker in Valencia and then the best young winemaker in Spain! Pepe added to the portfolio, including two further flagship wines, Estrecho and Las Quebradas, both of which have appeared in Cork Talk, and continue to do so in my cellar!

Well, he’s at it again, and that’s why he can certainly be called a Mover and Shaker in the Spanish Wine World! Casa Agricóla is Pepe’s personal project: where only Mediterranean organically grown grape varieties are used; where the limited production is sustainable; where there is total respect for the soils and environment; and where there is as little intervention as possible I don’t need to, as I’ve tasted his first three wines in this range, but I wish him the very best of luck in his new enterprise!

Regular readers will also have seen mention of Sarah Jane Evans MW more than once in Cork Talk. An award-winning wine writer, journalist and speaker at conferences worldwide, Sarah Jane qualified as an MW in 2006, and was presented with an award for the highest mark in the theory section of this exacting exam, and was subsequently appointed Chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine!

With regard to her specialist subject, Spanish Wine, Sarah Jane Evans was made a member of the exceedingly prestigious Gran Orden de Caballeros de Vino in 2010, with a number of similarly impressive appointments to various Denominaciónes de Origen throughout Spain. Thus, she is already established as another major influencer, but that’s not all!

Her recently published book, The Wines of Northern Spain, has been given glowing reviews by expert and novice alike and with, we understand a sequel (perhaps to be titled The Wines of Southern Spain?) in the offing, there can be no doubt about her eligibility for this list!

Victor de la Serna is the person I go to first when I need some information about Spanish Wine. Described, accurately, by Wikipedia as a journalist and writer, Victor is in fact so much more! A winemaker himself (award winning and Parker+ high pointer, Finca Sandoval, DO Manchuela) he is co-founder of the prestigious Grandes Pagos de España.

It’s really helpful to have someone like Victor readily available, as he always is, to answer any questions I have about Spanish wines and the Spanish Wine Scene in general. Victor uses Twitter often and I always receive notifications when he has something to say. He is one of the best respected Spanish wine commentators, and as such, a Mover and Shaker!

I’ve been following Andrew Halliwell on Twitter ever since we were in contact about a wine project on which he was working in DO Terra Alta. Andrew is a consultant winemaker with fingers in (not literally!) a few bodega pies here in Spain. Having tasted the wines which he helped make with owner, Andy McLeod, at Celler Alimara it became instantly clear to me that here is a guy who knows how to make wine!

Andrew travels around Spain consulting, and learning too, I’m often in contact with him, he always has a view on whatever aspect of Spanish wines I’m considering for Cork Talk, and he’s thus a valuable influencer!

I also came to know and follow Fintan Kerr through comments he and I made via Twitter – it’s an excellent resource for me, and I like to think I make a contribution too! Fintan qualified with honours in the Wines and Spirits Educational Trust (WSET) Diploma and is now on the long, arduous and very expensive road to Master of Wine status. I’m sure he’ll make it!

Fintan’s all round wine knowledge, experience and expertise is already excellent, but he keeps studying. Living in Barcelona he certainly contributes to the Spanish wine scene, as well as that of world wines! Facebook Colin Harkness Twitter @colinonwine

In Case You Missed It – The Cork Talk Top Ten Spanish Wines of 2018!


Ok, I accept that there are other work related stresses worse than this, but, let me assure, choosing the Top Ten Spanish Wines tasted for Cork Talk from the start to the finish of 2018, is stressful!

It’s my own fault really. At its inception many years ago I decided to restrict it to just ten Spanish wines and, despite the yearly anxiety, I’m going to keep to that parameter! So, here are the best ten wines I’ve tasted for Cork Talk this year, beginning as always with number ten.

TEN – I’m delighted to include a sherry in this lear’s Top Ten! The Palo Cortado style, Dos Cortados, from the excellent Bodegas Lustau is rich and round, with refreshing acidity. Only two barrels of this twenty years old sherry made, making it rather difficult to get hold of! It’swarming, with almost a brandy note on the finish. 

NINE – Montesquius 2004 Gran Reserva Cava Brut Nature. (A late entry after the Verema Tasting in Alicante). I only tasted it last month, this Cava is sold only in Magnum, costing about 50€/btl – but, when you consider that a Magnum is two bottle’s worth of wine, and you taste it – you’ll see that this represents excellent value for money! Xarel.lo and Macabeo – therefore very Spanish! Full on the palate, mature nose with pears and stewed apples as well as typical panaderia bread and pastry notes too! (

EIGHTH EQUAL – Nimi Tossal 2015 Orange Wine, is fermented in barrel after a long maceration, it rested for a further 12 months in oak, with its lees contributing to the finished wine. Everything in this wine is in perfect balance – it’s dry and fresh, there’s a little butter blending with panaderia notes and a very slight saline touch on the finish.

And Pigar Orange Wine made with Tardana (aka Planta Nova) and a little Moscatel both of which were kept in contact with the skins for 25 days and fermented in tinajas, earthenware amphorae, where it was aged for four months. It has a certain nutty aroma, there’s a sense of it being a little like a spirit in its mouth-feel, flavour and smell, with faint touches of very dry cider (the English type, served cloudy – though the wine is clear) and perhaps bruised apples and pears. Bodegas y Viñedos Pigar.

SIX – Finca Calvestra 2017 Vino Blanco (another late entry, this time after the Grandes Pagos de España tasting, again in November!) Always thought of as grape variety lacking in character, Merseguera, indigenous to the Valencia region we are shown here how much it can actually give to the taster looking for something different! Eleven months on its lees in French oak barrels have given the wine another dimension. There’s a touch of dried apricot on the nose with understated creaminess and mango on the palate. Perfectly integrated oak.

FIVE –  The 2009 Selección de Añada (yep, that’s 9 years old!) is almost regal in its style. This wine is always given a minimum extra year developing in bottle after its 36 months on its lees, before release. It is a splendid white wine, at around 30€ it’s expensive – but so is a Rolls Royce! Custard fruit on the nose, supported by a creamy nuttiness, perhaps hazelnuts. On the palate it has body, presence, but not attitude – it is the personification of elegance.

FOUR – Muga Reserva Selección Especial 2014. We have a Magnum of this wine laid down – not sure if I can wait much longer! Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano in perfect harmony. Fermented in French oak with indigenous yeasts and aged for 28 months. Think top quality Rioja, think this wine! Red and dark berry fruit, roasted coffee, vanilla, caramel and a little herby spice too!

THREE – Finca Moncloa 2014 VdlT de Cádiz made with Cab Sauv, Syrah, Tintilla de Rota (indigenous to Jerez area) and Petit Verdot. Another of the Grandes Pagos de España (GPE) wines this is a revelation! From the area best known for its fortified wines comes a red wine of pure class. It’s had a year on French and American oak with a further 12 months in bottle before release. Limited production!

TWO WINE – San Román 2015, DO Toro, made with Tinta de Toro. (GPE). Tasting beautifully now, with lots of super dark forest fruits, plus it has the tannin and acidity for it to age for years. Elegance, combines with vivacious fruit and a perfect weight on the palate. It’s had two years in a selection of new and used French and American oak, giving the wine depth and complexity, with a long, long finish!

NUMERO UNO, THE TOP WINE OF 2018 – Santa Rosa 2007, Bodegas Enrique Mendoza! As the GPE tasting was at Bodegas Enrique Mendoza, Pepe generously gave us a vertical tasting of his flagship wine, Santa Rosa! It was a mighty difficult choice but I’ve gone for the 11 years old, yet sprightly as you like, 2007 vintage! Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz, incredibly fruit driven after such a time, with consummate elegance, perfect balance – divine wine! The best Cork Talk Spanish Wine of 2018!

New Year Resolutions


I wonder how many of us make New Year Resolutions? I wonder, also, of those of us who do, how many of us keep them, and for how long?

On the whole, I’m one who does make them, and I do try and keep them – though, inevitably some of them fall by the wayside as the year progresses. Usually, the first to go is my annual resolution to keep my office tidy. And, linked closely to this is the one where I promise to visit the bottle bank more regularly!

Imagine the number of bottles of wine I get through each month (and bear in mind here, that I do this selflessly for you, dear reader!) – I sometimes wonder if the refuse collectors (as a student, I used to be one) ever take note of the quality of the wines that have been consumed whose bottles end up in the bottle banks around the area where my house is situated. I’m sure they don’t, but you know what, if it was me, I would! I know, I’m a sad case!

Well, there’s one New Year Resolution that I’ll certainly be keeping this year. My surgeon has dictated that I must do certain exercises before, and after, the two knee replacement operations that I’m expecting (dreading!) in 2015. I didn’t mention to him that, come what may, I’d have to continue with many of the wine related resolutions that I’m about to disclose here. One can give doctors too much information, don’t you think?!

So, for better for worse, for longer or shorter times kept, here are some suggestions re  wine resolutions and, as wine is one of my passions, I think I will be able to maintain these throughout the year. Perhaps you’d like to join me in some of them?

  1. Though there are some promising signs, La Crisis still bites here in Spain, so it may be that readers will worry about my first resolution, and of course, I accept that this may not be possible for us all. I’m going to spend a Euro or two more when I buy wine this year.

We’ll be able to see, smell, taste and even, feel, the difference in quality. Trade up a little and you’ll discover there’s so much more to obtain from Spanish wine. Most of us are not just in it for the alcohol and there are aromas and flavours waiting to be discovered!

I’m convinced that having the date of disgorgement visible (and I don’t mean some code that has to be deciphered!) on the back label of Sparkling Wines is an advantage to both the consumer and the producer.

As Cork Talk readers will know, the date when the dead yeast is expelled from the bottle, which has been kept ‘en rima’ in the cellars for at least nine months, is very significant, if we want to drink fizz at its best. Sparkling wine has a shelf life, which is shorter in Spain than in, for example, France, though the disgorgement date is still relevant there too.

When this yeast sediment has been exploded out of the bottle and the sparkling wine is then ready to drink, it will only last, at its best, for a certain length of time. You have about 9 months with the younger sparklers, longer with Reservas and Gran Reservas, but not hugely longer, when the wine can be enjoyed as the winemaker wants you to enjoy it.

However the consumer can only tell how long is left if the date is clearly visible on the label. Obviously this information is important for us, but I believe it’s also crucial for the producer, who will reap the benefits of having his/her fizz always drunk when it’s at its best.

My resolution is therefore to buy exclusively (as far as is possible) sparklers that have this information on their labels, and to ask the retailer why others don’t, and can they demand this from the bodega from whom they buy. Sadly, I know I’ll also have to explain the significance to some retailers (particularly the supermarkets in whom I don’t have much confidence) and that I’ll have to suffer their indignation that I, a foreigner, should suggest something to improve a Spanish product!

I’ll be a pain to them, I know, but if we don’t act, this problem will continue to be a thorn in our otherwise wonderful Spanish Sparkling Wine!

Back to supermarkets and the failure of some of them to put the consumer first. I’m again going to expose those supermarkets that are selling wines when they are past their best. I have written before of the horrors of the dark orange and even brown 5+ years old Rosados that I have seen blatantly offered on supermarket shelves, purely to release space in the warehouse whilst at the same time covering the buyers’ error in buying too many bottles at the time when it was safe to drink them!

It doesn’t just apply to rosados and it doesn’t just apply to one supermarket chain or individual business. Again, I’ll have my work cut out explaining that the best place for such fruitless apologies for wine is down the drain, but I will, and one day they’ll listen.

Please, don’t make me a voice in the wilderness – join the campaign!

I’m going to continue to buy Vino de la Tierra wines. These are the wines which are not Denominación de Origen wines, but which nevertheless often offer excellent quality, and value.

If you look at Spanish wine books from 20+ years ago you’ll see that VdlT wines are effectively described as ‘wannabe DO wines’. I doubt it was ever the case, but it certainly isn’t now. There are really good quality wines that are not DO and yet offer at least as much, and on occasion, more.

My advice is look at the price-tag. It is generally still true that in Spain you receive what you pay for. In other words, in this case, a VdlT wine that is priced at, or above, ‘average’ DO wine prices will deliver just what you want it to. Experiment!

I’m going to continue to seek out eclectic wines, wines from unfamiliar areas of production and wines made from less well known varieties. When I discover good ones, as I surely will, I’ll be letting readers know. You can do the same of course.

I say again – experiment.

Finally, as I’m running out of space – whilst I’m not going to consign my sparkling wine flutes to the bottle banks, I am going to drink more sparkling wine from white wine glasses.

Like most of us, I delight in seeing flutes of fizz and their wonderful, sparkling bubbles seething to the surface, and occasionally even overflowing. It’s all part of the folklore – it speaks of celebration. However the fact is that it is easier to discover the finer aroma and flavour profiles when Sparkling Wine is tasted from a wine glass!

Many thanks for reading me over the last year and I hope you continue to do so! Please note that there will be, as always, various exciting wine related events this year and the best way to hear about these in advance is to join my e-mail list. There’s no charge, of course, and my regular update are as unobtrusive as possible. Please contact me and I’ll add you to the list. Gracias.

Contact Colin: and through and via Twitter @colinonwine

Top Ten Spanish Wines




So straight to it:


Doix_line_productNo. 1for the fist time ever, a wine that has hit the top spot for two consecutive years! Doix Costers de Vinyes Vellas, Bodegas Mas Doix, DOCa Priorat, though this time it’s the 2009 vintage. The grapes for this classy wine, a measly half kilo per vine(!), come from vineyards whose Cariñena and Garnacha vines are between 80 and 105 years of age. Concentrated dark berry flavours are to the fore on first sniff and hit, and in the mouth the wine expands in terms of it rich flavours. There are spicy notes with some bay leaf too, a hint of smoke, some graphite, some distant old leather, a slight cinnamon note and all bound together with ripe fruit and bold, but unobtrusive tannin – to ensure longevity.


No. 2 Clio, Bodegas El Nido, DO Jumilla. Clio is made with 79% Monastrell and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Old vines are used, the Monastrell are really old, perhaps 100yrs, and the Cabernet are north facing. The vineyards stoically endure very cold winters and furnace like heat in the summer. You might get coffee, blackberry/current jam, liquorice, cassis, leather, and an overwhelming sense of opulence, a very rich mouthfeel, filling the mouth with flavour the moment you take a sip.


No. 3 Pezas da Portela, Bodegas Valdesil, DO Valdeorras. Made from grapes grown in eleven different vineyards surrounding the village of Portela this white wine is fruit driven but with an elegance that speaks of really fine wine. There is a most desirable mineral nose coming from the slate-strewn soils in which the vines grow – you’ll find apple flavours, some peachy notes, paraguyo and a refreshing understated citrus element too.


No. 4. Les Ceveres, Bodegas Oriol Rosello, DO Penedés. This stunning white wine which has had six months in French oak has a delightful coconut cream nose from its lees and from the barricas in which is has lain. Slight hazelnut and blanched almond aromas are joined by baked apples and just a suggestion of white peach on the finish.


No. 5 Gran Reserva Brut Nature Cava, Bodegas Oriol Rosello, DO Cava. Its pale gold colour tells of its age and perhaps suggests that there may be Chardonnay in the blend – but no, this is traditional in that it uses only indigenous Cava varieties, in this case Xarel.lo and Parellada. Full flavoured but graceful and elegant with complexity. Its aromas gradually develop, just as the genie from the lamp slowly and gracefully manifests itself; and its glorious length kept us all hushed for several moments after swallowing!


No. 6 Albet i Noya Gran Reserva 2009 Brut Nature. The aroma of his Gran Reserva is as rich as can be and promises some wonderful flavours in the mouth. The traditional three grape varieties are supported by a sizeable proportion of Chardonnay and the patisserie notes, normally associated with Champagne, are here in abundance too. There’s a touch of green apple, largely from the Macabeo, and the fermented apple nose and taste of some classic Asturias dry cider. Admirable length and graceful elegance allied with richness!

No. 7 Lavia, Bodegas Molino y Lagares de Bullas, DO Bullas. Made with Monastrell and Syrah the wine is fermented in foudres made of French oak and stainless steel after which they are placed, by gravity only, into French oak barrels. Mountain herbs, black pepper, ripe black cherries and damson with earthy vanilla notes and a slight bitter chocolate finish.



No. 8 Feitizo da Noite Brut, Bodegas Pablo Padin, DO Rías Baixas Vino Espumo, The wine has the typical bready patisserie nose on first opening but this aroma is soon joined by typical Albariño white peach fruit and white flower fragrance. It has a lingering finish and its 8 grams of residual sugar classify it as a dry, Brut, sparkler, also making it an ideal partner to any cuisine that might include a touch of sweetness, Chinese and Indonesian for example, as it has the necessary acidity to cut through the sweetness but also the flavours to complement.


No. 9 Sueño Megala 2007, Bodegas Enguera, DO Valencia. At 14·5% this is a powerful, and yet elegant wine. Made mostly from a blend of Monastrell, Tempranillo and Syrah it has clearly enjoyed its 22 months in French oak. There are earthy aromas and bay and rosemary herbal notes on the nose with Enguera’s usual high level of delicious dark and light red fruit on the palate too. It’s a multilayered wine with complexity, a lengthy finish and a certain sensuality as well.


No. 10 Diez Siglos 2011 Fermentado en Barrica, Bodegas Diez Siglos de Verdejo, DO Rueda. The oldest vineyards comprised of stone strewn earth with few nutrients provide the wine with a pleasing, almost flinty mineral note. It has nine months in French oak and it’s this, added to typical herby green pepper vegetal notes along with gooseberry and kiwi, that provides the fresh, ripe grapefruit on the finish.