First Published in Grupo Costa News Feb 2011



Teulada's Centre of Wine Excellence!

In fact I’m referring to that corner of Teulada where stands: the wine merchants, A Catarlo Todo; the super Wine/Tapas Bar next door, Tapes Tapes; Plus, brand new, their Wine Accessories Shop, Diversus. Individually, each premises stand out for their very high standards; as a whole, this innovative Triumvirate can truly be defined a centre of excellence for all things Wine!

 I’ve known brothers José and Javi for many years now and am often found perusing their wines and sampling their original, often gourmet, tapas. So I was delighted to be asked to present their inaugural wine tasting with tapas to introduce the new concept to what turned out to be a full house. Seven wines were tasted with a series of tapas to universal acclaim by those who attended. It was an excellent start to the Valentine’s weekend!

 The first wine we tried was a Cava, Pupitre Brut, from the Cava Capital Sant Sadurni D’Anoia. I always like to start a tasting with a Cava – this super Spanish sparkler refreshes the palate and prepares the taster for the wines to come. But Pupitre, made with the three traditional grape varieties, Xarel.lo, Parellada and Macabeo has more to offer than just this. It’s not over expensive and I’d recommend you try it as an alternative to your usual fizz!

 White wine followed, in the form of Care Chardonnay – an unoaked Chardonnay from DO Cariñena, with the iconic flat-face modern art label. This wine demonstrates how Chardonnay can be all things to all men (and women!). It loves its own company but is happy also with oak, in abundance or with only a few months ageing.

 Care Chardonnay 2010 is grown at altitude – it’s more of an Old World,

A Catarlo Todo - an Aladin's Cave for wine enthusiasts!

 subtle Chardonnay than brash New World. Quite full on the palate and capable of another year’s ageing I think.

 Mo Rosado from Bodegas Sierra Salinas followed (yes I know you’ve read about this wine before, but no apologies, it’s good!) is made from the top Spanish variety Monastrell (don’t let anyone tell you it’s the Spanish name for the French grape, Mourvedre – it’s the other way around!), Cabernet Sauvignon and that start of Sierra Salinas, Garnacha Tintorera – the grape with the slightly pink coloured flesh.

 Our first red of the evening was Vierlas 2007 from Bodegas Guelnenzu of the Vino de la Tierra Ribera del Queiles wine producing area, which is in the Navarra DO zone, but is not DO Navarra. Nor does it want to be!

 Another example of how good wines from non DO areas can be! This 100% Syrah has had 6 months in American and French oak and is typical of Spain’s spin on the French variety, Syrah (aka Shiraz in the New World). When cultivated at altitude but with guaranteed sunshine this grape gives super fruit driven, slightly black pepper spiced dark cloured red wine.

 La Planta 2009 from Bodegas Arzuaga is slightly less opaque but still darkly coloured. It’s made from 100% Tempranillo in the glorious DO Ribera del Duero. Wines from this DO often seem to coax a touch more depth and opulence from Spain’s treasured Tempranillo (aka Tinto Fino in the Ribera del Duero DO).

 But with this particular wine, oh what a super nose – redolent of dark cherries, cinnamon, toffee apple and nutmeg! In the mouth it is a little short of the expectation following the aromas, a little lighter in mouthfeel than the fragrance suggests. But for it’s price it really is good!

 The final red wine, Albada 2002, is from DO Calatayud and blends Cabernet, Garnacha, Tempranillo and again, Syrah. It’s a Reserva with 13 months in French and American oak and even after three days open, kept cool, it remains an elegant, yet fully flavoured wine – I’m sipping it now!

 The final wine was a dessert wine, Zubiri, DO Navarra, which has taken South East Spain’s Moscatel and turned it into a completely different animal!

 NB Our next wine tasting wit classical music and gourmet dining will be on Friday 8th April at Hotel Marisol, Calpe – it promises to be an excellent evening! Please reserve on 629 388 159 –more details soon!

First Published in Costa News Group, January 2011



 Whilst we were primarily, of course, in the UK to enjoy the company of family and friends at Christmas time, I’m always indulged as far as my observation of current wine trends is concerned. For my part I like to think I strike a happy balance, occasionally I stop taking wine notes and listen!

 Our visit last Easter was, it seemed, like surfing in on a giant wave of Sauvignon Blanc! The UK was awash with wines made from this super-crisp grape variety. It was the preferred choice in most houses we visited as well as in pubs and bars, and the wine shops and supermarket shelves were loaded with the stuff. No, problem, I like Sauvignon, and it was a pleasure to try the same from so many different countries – the UK is still the best country on the planet for wine variety!

 I expected the same at Christmas – but hey, Sauvignon, move over and make room for Pinot Griggio! Yes the Italian, oh-so-slightly grey-tinged grape variety is currently in vogue. And again, no problem, I often like this wine too, plus it’s good to enjoy variety when offered a glass of dry white.

 It seems that, unlike here in Spain, the UK wine drinking public follows fads. What’s ‘in’ this month (maybe week?) could well ‘passé next. I’m quite sure also that, as these darlings of the moment are still good wines, even when they inevitably fall from prominence, they will return another time. It’s a cyclical thing, but who’s turning the wheel, and why?

 It may be that the people responsible are those noble gentlepeople of the press (should wine columnists be known as the wine press, do you think?!). If a wine writer is bombarded with samples of a certain grape variety he/she’s bound to write about the wines he tastes. Ergo the more writers who receive these samples, the more column inches there are and bingo, the current tide turns in favour of this next variety. So who orchestrates the sample sending – is it merely coincidence?

 I use the ‘more is less’ term here to describe two other traits I noticed in the UK. Cork Talk readers will know that one never fills a wine glass more than a third full. But it seems that in the UK this is not the case (except in the homes we visited, of course, where friends and family are also discerning wine drinkers). I all the pubs and restaurants we patronised glasses were filled almost to the brim. Why is this?

Wine Glasses should be no more than a third full, otherwise More is Less!

 I suspect that it is because an unaware public will feel short-changed if they are served a glass that is well short of full. In fact, though, they are already being cheated – of all the aromas, integral to full wine appreciation, that wine offers prior to tasting. If it’s difficult to put the glass to your lips without spilling the contents how can we possibly swirl and sniff and allow those fragrances to tempt us? More is less!

 Also ‘more is less’ when I consider many of the wines that I tasted, though you may disagree. Almost all of the red wines I drank, many in fact from Chile (the biggest culprit?), were big. Big in up-front fruit and/or up-font fruit and oak combined as well as big in alcohol. I liked them, initially. The bold flavours please the palate, but the second glass, well it was just too much! Bigger wines, these days it seems, equal less complexity.

 Has subtlety been left out of the New World Wine Dictionary? Is finesse a thing of the past in wines from these countries? Has the sophisticated palate been GBH’d by overripe fruit, high alcohol and wooden clubs? More is less!