First Published in Costa News SL, March 2011



I always knew that Domecq was a very large wine business, but it wasn’t until I was invited recently to a La Vinoteca, Calpe, wine tasting that I realised the huge scale of the empire that is Domecq Bodegas!

 You’ve heard of one of the best selling wine brands out of Australia, Jacobs Creek – well think again, this is actually owned by Domecq Bodegas. The fabulous Champagne Perrer-Jouët, including their iconic Grand Cuvée, Belle Epoque, is also a Domecq holding. La Rioja’s Campo Viejo is another.

 France’s aniseed-flavoured aperitif Pernod and Ricard; Castillo de Diablo from Chile; Graffigna from Argentina; and Montana from New Zealand; plus a plethora of bodegas in several different Spanish DOs and VdlTs all feature in this global enterprise’s portfolio! It’s really quite amazing!

A Triumvirate of Tasters @ La Vinoteca, Calpe

 I was asked to assist in the presentation from Domecq’s friendly representative in this region, Francisco Javier Góme, translating Javier’s eloquent Spanish descriptions of the areas of production, the bodegas concerned and of course the four wines we tasted.

 We tried firstly a white wine, which in fact was to be my favourite of the evening. I knew we couldn’t go wrong when, before we tasted, Javier explained that this wine is made from the indigenous Verdejo variety, with just a touch of Sauvignon Blanc – a winning combination for sure!

 Auro 2010 is like a professional photograph of flavour, encompassing all that’s good in the super wine making zone of Rueda. There are fine mountain herbs in the foreground amongst waving grasses moved by the gentle breeze. Wild asparagus mixes with green vegetal notes, particularly Italian peppers, amid pear and kiwi fruit – all brought into sharp focus by a fresh acidic lift of Sauvignon gooseberry.

 Castillo de Javier 100% Garnacha Rosado from DO Navarra was the second wine. Rice dishes are so popular in Spain of course and, depending on the ingredients, they are happy to be accompanied by several different styles of wine. However you’ll very often see Rosado as the Spaniards’ choice – this is because of the remarkable influence of the Saffron. This wine doesn’t have great deal on the nose, some of the expected raspberry fruit with some pleasing floral notes. But on the palate it opens up into a lovely dry, inexpensive prettily pink wine.

 CV De Campo Viejo is a new wine from the famous Campo Viejo stable. It’s designed for use only in the restaurant trade and for sale just in wine shops, not supermarkets. Indeed Cecilia, from La Vinoteca is the exclusive stockist of Domecq Bodegas wines in the Calpe area.

 Selected from several different parcelas in the Laguardia area the

Cecilia, owner of La Vinoteca, poses with the wines tasted.

 Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano grapes are fermented separately at a relatively cool temperature in order to preserve the fruit character. The wine is blended and aged in only French oak for 12 months with a further year in bottle. It was first released in January 2011 and we were amongst the first to taste this new wine.

 A little tannic at first, it’s best enjoyed with food. As the wine warms to the ambient temperature it gives off some more of its dark fruit and cinnamon aromas and develops further in the mouth finishing with plum, black cherry and vanilla.

 Finally Quinta de Tarsus is a classy wine in the making. Still a touch green with sturdy tannin and a sprightly acidity there is nevertheless sufficient fruit from the 100% Tinta del Pais (aka Tempranillo) grapes. It’s had 12 months in American and French oak, a third of which was new. Violet purple colours abound when poured and again this wine is good with meaty food.

Wine Tasting at La Vinoteca, Calpe

Friday 25th March at 20:00 hrs, La Vinoteca, Calpe! If you’ve been to one of Cecilia’s wine tastings before you’ll know just how good they are – and they’re free!

I’ll be there to assist in the presentation of a raft of wines from Domecq Bodegas – DOs: Rueda, Navarra, La Rioja; and Ribera del Duero will be represented and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there were some of the fantastic empanadas from Argentina too!

Please call Cecilia on 965 875 490 to reserve – see you there!




 Most wine books and experts agree that wine tasting should be in the order of white to red and dry to sweet. The first wine tasted at La Vinoteca, Calpe recently was Bodegas Sierra Cantabria Crianza 2006, their most economically priced red wine, followed by three further red wines, two of them weighty fellows, but ending with their Organza 2008 white wine. Unusual!

 The crianza was 98% Tempranillo with a tiny amount of Graciano blended in too. I found the wine only palatable at first, largely due to it being a little too chilled – a comment my fellow tasters also made. However as the wine both breathed and warmed there was a slight coconut aroma, coming from the French oak barrels, in which, along with American oak barrels too, it had aged for 14 months.

Sierra Cantabria Cuvee 2005, 22€, is made from vines of more than 30 years old which have been treated in an organic way in as much as no artificial fertilizers have been used in the vineyard. It was bottled without filtration and with only gravity to clarify the wine.

 It has a darker, more intense colour than the crianza, and is just showing some faint browning at the edges, indicating that it is ageing in bottle. On the nose there are earthy, undergrowth notes underpinning the dark fruit quality.

 Colección Privada 2007 retails at 40€. The vines for this wine are over 50 years of age, that’s old in La Rioja where vines are often grubbed up at 40! Harvesting was strictly by hand ensuring good quality bunches which were then subjected to the selection table test where any damaged or below par grapes were discarded. It enjoyed 18 months in oak, followed by further time in bottle in the cellars.

 This wine has the tannin and structure to age and indeed it will be better with more time under its belt, but for me it needed greater fruit content for it to age for much more than 5 -7 years. There are notes of herbs a touch of coffee and some spice as well as some floral perfume, but not a lot of fruit on the nose. A mineral, slatey element complemented the wine which will be super with food.

 El Puntido 2006 is five Euros more expensive. Opaque and very dark coloured this is a big wine made from old vines whose grapes have been examined on two sorting tables. It’s had 16months in French oak from which coffee tones mix with excellent dark and juicy blueberry and blackberry fruits. It was my favourite of the evening with a long finish helping to justify its price-tag and a wine to grace any dining table.

 So to the final wine, a Rioja white! This wine has been both fermented and aged in oak. The medium-high toasted French oak adds significantly, but not unfavourably, to the overall taste. When in barrel the wine was stirred with its lees twice a week adding a creaminess to the final taste. A pleasing fresh acidity cleaned the palate after the onslaught of the big reds.

 However freshening up the palate is not the aim of fine white wine and I’m afraid that in my opinion the reason why the white wine was enjoyed at the end of the tasting rather than at the beginning has more to do with the fact it was the best in terms of readiness to drink than it being the best order to serve it.

First Published August 2010 Costa News


La Vinoteca owner Cecilia appreciates Herman's presentation of Bodega Vicente Gandía Plá wines.

It’s always a pleasure to attend the regular wine tastings at Calpe’s leading wine shop, La Vinoteca, aside the dry river a hundred meters or so from the Mediterranean. The all-embracing charming smile on owner Cecilia’s face is a wholly genuine, warm welcome liberally and naturally used as if you are a treasured member of the family. And of course, to complete this family affair, Cecilia’s Mum is always on hand producing with a flourish a tray of her wonderful, secret recipe, Argentinean empanadillas at the optimum moment when the wines are making you peckish!

 If you haven’t yet been (and they are usually worth even travelling from all points served by the Costa News Group’s four titles) – then you really should!

 However there was a double pleasure in store for me when I attended the first of two tastings recently. The wines were from Bodegas Vicente Gandía Plá whose empire (and I use the word deliberately as it is one of the largest business enterprises in the whole of Spain!) makes wines from easily accessible entry level up to top award winning fine wines. So that was a good start, but I was also delighted to find that the presentation was to be given by my young friend Herman Potgeiter, South Afrikan, multi-lingual commercial winemaker.

 The first wine was in fact Hoya De Cadenas Brut Nature Cava – a wine that needs no introduction for me as it is the aperitif that we use exclusively at all of our wine tastings with dinner and classical music. The cava has a fine mousse resulting in the continual, pleasing sound of light bubble bursting (cava is the only wine which requires the use of the sense of hearing for its assessment!). It has a good mouth-feel, some body and a bready/brioche nose, typical in fact of Champagne.

 The next wine is one that I’ve mentioned before in this column – and is one of the original Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc blends in Spain, a wine style that seems to be gaining in popularity. It’s not surprising as this blend is all fruit – perfect for consumers with a fruit-lust regarding their wine preferences.

 Actually though, compared with previous apricot and peach laden aromas and flavours, this 2009 vintage has a more subtle citrus fruit presence coupled with a faint aniseed nose, with a greater freshness and increased acidity, making it a super aperitif wine and one to drink pleasurably with salads. Visually, Herman’s comment that whilst many white wines’ brilliance in the glass is akin to a 40 or 50 watt bulb, this is in the 100 watt category is true when you hold the glass against a white background!

 The next wine was Miracle Art – a red wine in a distinctive bottle with some

Art and Fine Wine

 quite amazing labels! I remember being invited to an art exhibition that featured wine barrels that had been painted by some of Valencia’s acclaimed artists in various different styles – it really was quite a show. And it is these barrels that feature on the labels of this wine.

 Made from Monastrell, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Tempranillo and Merlot this 2007 vintage wine has had ten months in oak and whilst drinking well now can do some with more time in bottle to evolve further.

 Hoya De Cadenas Reserva Privada is a wine I first tasted in the subterranean cellars of the bodega in the glorious eponymous valley where their ultra-modern winery is set. Made from grapes grown at a higher altitude in a vineyard that consistently produces fruit of top quality this wine is a cuvee of Tempranillos with 15% cabernet Sauvignon for greater depth and darker colour as well as blackcurrant flavour tones.

 The 2005 has enjoyed 14 months in American oak and plenty of extra time in bottle where it has become rounded and softer making it a super wine for enjoying with dinner, but then for continuing with during post-prandial conversation.

 However you need to somehow make space for Bodegas Vicente Gandía Plá’s lovely dessert wine. For a start it looks so charming on the table – the instantly recognizable label was the winner of a Valencia Art Student Award competition and when condensation drips down the bottle following its extraction from the chiller it really makes you want have a taste. Once tasted, this delightful, medal winning, orange-blossom scented Moscatel, which has also benefited from three months in new French oak finishing school, has the perfect equilibrium between sweetness and acidity.

 P.S. Information about these and other wine tastings can be found at: click Events; and by joining my e-mail list – please e-mail me at: .