The Top Ten!


So, without further ado, here, in reverse order, are my Top Ten wines of the year!

10. Rós, Rosé wine from Bodegas Tandem (in collaboration with Lynn Coyle MW) – an immediate, though slight aroma of ripe red, slightly fluffy apples, as I brought the glass to my nose. An interesting start! This fleeting first note was joined by a floral presence – you can guess which flower, the rose of course, though a red rose rather than pink. Some fruit notes joined the party – a little rhubarb, whose un-sugared acidity followed through to refresh the palate, though soon to be replaced by the overriding blend of pink grapefruit with some slightly under ripe raspberries!

9. Gamonal 2016, Viñedos y Bodegas Pardevalles, single estate wine made from the variety, Prieto Picudo, harvested by hand. Fermentation and macerations occur over a 14 -18 day period, allowing the skins to give off some of their dark colour to the finished wine, as well as tannin, aroma and flavour, with a certain brightness in the glass too. French and American oak aged and stored in the 300 year old cellars, each imparting a touch of vanilla and a toasty note too. After time blackberry fruit is firstly noticed, with some timid blackcurrant, stony minerality, again understated, with a little mountain herb. There are floral whiffs going on and an undercurrent of liquorice too.

8. *‘Vino Flor’, white wine from Pepe Mendoza Casa Agricóla, made in a way similar to Sherry, it’s no wonder I found an aroma, and to an extent, the taste, of ‘en rama’ sherry, as well as some lemony citrus notes, with a brief, but reoccurring ripe apple aroma and it’s got plenty of presence on the palate, with an engagingly long finish. *This was an experimental wine which has, I think, morphed into Pepe’s Macabeo/Merseguera!

7. Pigar El Ardachero Orange Wine, Bodegas Pigar – yep, you read that correctly, another Orange Wine! Captivating – this wine, made with Chardonnay, is another fine Spanish example of this style of wine. Unlike their other Orange wine, featured in last year’s Top Ten, this is fermented and aged on its lees in stainless steel. Mineral notes, a little cider on the nose with a touch of patisserie, minus the sugar, this dry wine will stay with you, beacon-like!

6. Velvet & Stone Rosado, La Niña de Cuenca – yes, that’s two rosé wines this year! Charming, elegant, aromatic and fruit filled, this Prestige Rosé has pink and white rose petal fragrance with soft red fruits, loganberry and a little pomegranate on the nose and palate. So pretty in the glass, it’s simultaneously soft and powerful (Velvet and Stone!) and has a long finish. We absolutely loved it as an aperitif as well as serving it with salmon and red, orange and yellow capsicum, red lentil based dishes. I imagine it would also be super with seafood/fish paella!

5. Les Freses Blanc, Bodegas Les Freses – truly exemplary dry Moscatel wine made from vines planted in white coloured limestone based soil. Fresh scidity, with some exotic fruit, white peach and a little apricot – reminiscent of Albariño and Viognier wines, and that’s certainly not a bad thing! Floral, delicate jasmine, but weight on the palate too. Certainly good with above fish, also where sauces are used, and lovely, no doubt with shellfish!

4. Bobal La Serratilla, Bodegas Pigar – yes, them again! A whopping 16% abv – though you wouldn’t know it to be so high. It’s full, yes, completely taking over the palate with some wonderful black (and lighter) cherry notes, with an air of elegance to accompany its richness. Fermentation of the juice from grapes of the oldest vineyard on the property was provoked by its own wild yeasts. A glorious very dark colour, it invites the drinker in, and won’t let go! Just seven months in oak – super stuff!

3. Torelló Brut Nature, Corpinnat Spanish Sparkling Wine is perfectly dry at only 0–3grms of sugar per litre and a superb partner to canapés! It has crucial freshness, quite an achievement following its four and a half years en rima! Obviously, there’s an extra maturity to the aromas and flavours in this fizz. Citric fruit aromas and flavours mingle with white flowers and more of a baked apple flavour, with a citrus, apple and pear pastry, without the sugar! Earthiness is in there too making it a fizz for more than just first course!

2. Ví de Sal (magnum); Finca Collado – what a discovery from DO Alicante! A minimal intervention wine, rich on the palate but with alluring fresh acidity. The wine is fermented in large 600litre French oak barrels, with regular stirring to extract colour and flavour from the skins. It’s then aged in the same barrels for 12 months, adding depth and complexity, though the wine is so well made you can hardly detect the oak. Rich plum/damson fruit, a reference to figs and liquorice with some dark chocolate on the finish. There’s thyme and eucalyptus on the nose and big though it is, there is also an elegance to this wine.

  1. La Niña de Cuenca’s, Ildania, is my Number One 2019 – 100%  low yielding average 70 yrs old Bobal, fermented and aged 18 months in clay tinajas (amphorae), varying in size, 500 and 1000 litres capacity. Very dark, initially less than forthcoming with its aromas, though eventually opening up (decant this wine). And what aromas – black cherry, typical of the variety, but with some black plum and lighter cherries too, a little black pepper spice as well. Minerality, certainly mouth-feel, presence, as well as some earthy mountain herbs. Wow!

Happy New Year!   Facebook Colin Harkness

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Rós by Lynne Coyle MW & Bodega Tandem


When it comes to rosé wine, I subscribe to the Elizabeth Gabay MW school of thought – it really shouldn’t be considered as a seasonal product, brought out in Spring (though only if the weather is sunny and warm enough!), enjoyed through the Summer, forgotten in Autumn and nought but a distant memory in Winter! No, I like to drink premium rosé all year round, enjoying it with various different, perhaps seasonal, dishes.

That said, I can see Bodegas Tandem’s rosé wine, called Rós, and made in collaboration with Ireland’s Lynne Coyle MW, selling out this Summer in the Emerald Isle! It’s a lovely rosado wine, deserving of its ‘Premium Rosé tag! So, if you are able to, I’d get some in as soon as possible! (

I believe this is Lynne’s first wine and she therefore joins a small but growing number of English speaking foreigners who have decided to make wine here in Spain. Indeed, she joins an even smaller number who are also Masters of Wine! It seems to me that it’s already a perfect blend – Spanish climate and grape varieties, with Master of Wine knowledge. Then, when you add a further constituent into the mix, a native Spanish wine maker, working in a young, but established and exciting bodega – well, surely it’s got to be a success.

Bodega Tandem makes its wines under the auspices of DO Navara and their owner/winemaker, Alicia Eyaralar, a friend of Lynne’s was delighted to collaborate with her on a completely new project – creating Rós. They both share the same philosophy and wanted to make a wine with as little intervention as possible, using the buzz-grape these days, Garnacha.

Bodegas Tandem’s Garnacha grows in the Yerri Valley of Navarra, in the foothills of the Pyrenees and not far from the Atlantic – a combination which produces cooling winds, affording the vines some respite from the heat of the Spanish growing season. The vines are low yielding, meaning they are becoming elderly, and they are farmed sustainably, in other words with a view to maintaining healthy soils for future generations.

The winemaking is as naturally as possible. Native yeasts indigenous to the vineyards are used for the fermentation and throughout the process gravity and natural settlement are employed ensuring a gentle crafting of the wines, if also a little nervous nail biting of the winemakers! Wine making technology could have meant less anxiety about this, their first joint project, but it would have meant more intervention than they’d both agreed before the project started.

In case you were wondering where the name Rós comes from (I was – although it obviously is a nice fit, being the first three letters of the wine style, Rosé and of course it’s Spanish equivalent Rosado, it was the accent on the ‘o’ that I found intriguing), it comes from the Gaelic word for rose, as realised by Lynne’s son, Edward. This again is a nice fit – as a nod to their Scottish roots, as well as to Lynne’s role as Wine Director for O’Brien’s Wines, the established Irish wine merchants with over thirty shops in the Irish Republic, plus a couple in the UK too.

And what of the wine, I can almost hear you asking? Well, firstly, it was clear to me that we had to taste this pale, almost Provençal shaded rosé wine with another lovely Ros, this time without the accent, unless you’re counting the rather posh one that our great friend sports (not forgetting that I am but a humble northerner)! So, under cover from the fresh, but warm wind in their pergola, we sat down to taste Rós, with Ros, and Mick. It was a great success!

I was surprised, though delighted, to detect an immediate, though slight aroma of ripe red, slightly fluffy apples, as I brought the glass to my nose. An interesting start! This fleeting first note was joined by a floral presence – you can guess which flower, the rose of course, though a red rose rather than pink, for me at least. Some fruit notes joined the party – a little rhubarb, whose un-sugared acidity followed through to refresh the palate, though soon to be replaced by the overriding blend of pink grapefruit with some slightly under ripe raspberries. Wow, I love it!

My thanks to Lynne Coyle MW and to Bodegas Tandem for supplying the sample – good luck with sales, and your next joint project?!  Twitter  @colinonwine

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