First Published Costa News Group, April 2011



Entrance to Restaurante Ca La Aiai

 When the first stand you see at the entrance to a wine tasting is that of Pol Roger Champagne you know you are onto a winner! So it was when I took up my invitation to attend such an event recently at Restaurante Ca La Aiai in Moraira.

 Recently I presented a wine tasting for Jose who owns Teulada’s Centre of Wine Excellence, well he also owns Moraira’s gourmet quality restaurant, Ca La Aiai, as well. And, as a part of this elegant edifice is also a wine retailing emporium, it seems that Jose has something of a monopoly over quality wines consumed in this part of the Costa Blanca!

 It’s not surprising therefore that he is the area’s exclusive stockist of several bodegas’ wares. Understandable too, that many of these wineries are happy to exhibit some of their finest wines as a favour to Jose and a real plus to local inhabitants.

 Pol Roger’s Brut Reserva is made from the triumvirate of Champagne grapes: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay from three different vintages and blended from thirty different vineyards. It is an elegant fizz with a tiny touch of sweetness on the first hit.

 Sir Winston Churchill, who declared Pol Roger to be his favourite Champagne, has a cuvee named after him – it wasn’t available at the tasting (it’s their flagship special cuvee and priced accordingly!). Their highly praised Brut Reserve, probably the one that the great man actually drank, was being served – the MillesmeVintage 2000 in fact. It’s a Premier Cru wine made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay selected from the best vineyards aged for many months in bottle and in the cellars and is excellent, a highlight of the tasting!

 There isn’t space to list all of the wines tasted, even in two articles, so I’ll focus on the highlights – some of which were quite outstanding!

 You would be entitled to expect wines priced as high as those from Bodegas Arzuaga to be a cut above the rest, and you’d be correct to do so. This Ribera del Duero winery is being aggressively marketed in the Spanish wine media, boasting not only top level wines but also a spa hotel and their own wine products massage and therapy! Indeed I’ve just received information about their forthcoming Spanish Mothers Day special wine therapy treatments for mothers to be and young recent mothers (I’m not sure why, I’m not expecting!).

 Pago Florentino 2008 is a single vineyard wine made from Cencibel (aka Tempranillo, Tinto Fino etc!). It has noticeable Vanilla notes on opening which develop with time in glass to minerally undergrowth aromas. Good fruit and mature tannin.

 Arzuaga Crianza 2008 has maturing tannin plus acidity to make it very much alive. Good fruit content from the Tempranillo, Merlot and Cabernet, again with vanilla notes from its time in oak. This wine has three more years I think.

 Their reserva 2006 was a touch more closed on the nose, though this may be because the bottle had been open for too long. There was good fruit but the tannin (as with all the Arzuaga wines I tasted) makes it more suitable for enjoying with food than on its own.

 Reserva especial 2004 at 54€ had a more subtle and balanced nose with an inviting light mouthfeel, but big taste. It was one of my favourites of the tasting. Arzuaga Gran Reserva 2001 is a very good wine with lots of flavour levels and a long finish, though I’m not sure I’d pay 72€ for a bottle! Gran Arzuaga (145€!) with an attractive label was not available when I was there – shame!

 * NB Part Two next week!