THE TELITEC TASTING TOUR
A VINOUS TOUR OF SPAIN!
Recently the first in a five part series of wine and tapas tastings, sponsored by Telitec Communications in association with Blu Property Group, was held at Vintage Restaurant, Albir.
Vintage Restaurant’s Chef/Patron Dani Bowler is well known to those who watch UK TV here in Spain as he was one of the finalists on the Masterchef show, narrowly missing actually winning the series.
Telitec’s dynamic Business & Promotions Manager, Gemma Broad, and I met Dani a few weeks ago to explain the concept and to choose the wines – we were quite happy to leave the choice of gourmet tapas to such an expert!
Telitec has an extensive client base stretching along the Costa Blanca and inland and we wondered what interest there would be in holding a series of fine wine and gourmet tapas pairing evenings in elegant restaurants at highly populated centres on the coast. The response was good – bookings for Vintage ensured that we just about filled the venue and reservations for the other restaurants involved* continue to arrive in my inbox!
There was also a good presence of staff from Blu Property Group, who are keen to be associated with such an event, and many of their large portfolio of services were covered by their representatives who, like Gemma, were happy to chat with fellow tasters.
Wines are chosen from the restaurants’ wine lists – we don’t just look at house wines, of course! Indeed at Vintage, I was delighted to be able to twist Dani’s arm into allowing us to use the finest on his list, Santa Rosa 2011 from Bodegas Enrique Mendoza, which had the added advantage of being a local wine with the bodega being just a grape’s throw away from the restaurant!
There is, quite rightly, a lot of talk (which translates into huge sales) about the white wines coming out of D.O. Rueda these days. Modern technology, significant sustained investment and old fashioned hard work have seen their indigenous grape variety, Verdejo, morph into wonderfully fruit driven, fresh, aromatic and flavour-full dry white wines. I’d say it’s almost certain that all readers have at least tried one, and there will be many for whom it is the go-to wine of the summer!
Often, commentators such as myself will point out that some of the taste and aroma profile characteristics of Verdejo are similar to those found in Sauvignon Blanc. It’s true, and we can all be forgiven for confusing one with the other when tasting blind. So, it seemed to some that perhaps the soils and climate of Rueda, would also suit Sauvignon vines. Bingo – two super dry whites from the same region.
Oro, a Sauvignon from D.O. Rueda, was out first wine of the evening and its pairing with Dani’s Duo of Salmon, was a marriage made in heaven. The fresh acidity of the wine cut though the richness of the baked and smoked salmon duo providing a perfect match. An excellent start!
Those in Galicia, particularly wine types in D.O. Rías Baixas, would consider Verdejo to be the new kid on the white wine block – here in Spain’s green (because of the highest rainfall on the Iberian peninsular!) north west the variety of choice is the well established noble grape, Albariño. I’m sure, again, that readers have quaffed and enjoyed several white wines made from this variety and coming from D.O. Rias Baixas.
Martin Codax was a famed poet of centuries ago from this area of Spain, but now his name lives on (I suspect more for the wines than for his verse?!) in that it is the name chosen by one of the leading wineries in D.O. Rías Baixas. The Martin Codax Albiriño is simply named, but it’s not a simple wine!
With a golden hue in the glass the white flower aromas, typical of the variety, rise to the nose promising a lovely drink! On the palate there are white peach notes with just the suggestion of some exotic mango in the mix too. It has the necessary fresh acidic lift but it’s more rounded, with a deeper flavour and longer finish that the Sauvignon above. Albariño’s great cuisine partner is seafood, fish of course, but particularly shellfish.
Dani’s tempura battered langostine, as usual so perfectly presented, was again a perfect fit. A number of tasters took mobile phone photos of this wine’s label with a view to sourcing it for their own supply!
Callejo wine has a really attractive label of a young girl dressed in the fashion of time gone by holding a bunch of flowers, perhaps on her way the local fiesta! Whilst it is true to say that D.O. Ribera del Duero shares the honour of being host to Spain’s equal most expensive wine (priced at about 1,000€ per bottle!) I’m delighted to say that this does not mean that other producers price their wine accordingly!
I’m often told by people that they are buying more Ribera del Duero wine now than ever before. The Callejo red wine is an example of just why this is so. It delivers a super fruit entry, mid-palate and finish – simple as that. Tempranillo (though here the variety can also be called Tinto Fino or Tinto del Pais) will always give you juicy fruit and when this is linked with a little oak ageing (only a few months in this case) the result is a lovely, easy to drink mouthful!
Santa Rosa, D.O. Alicante, from Bodegas Enrique Mendoza, Alfaz del Pi can perhaps be considered the iconic red wine of the Denominación de Origen! When first submitted in international competitions a few decades ago it made headlines and caused the wine writers of the day to re-think regarding wines from this hot and humid area of Spain. They hadn’t realised that Alicante is not just about the coast.
The vineyards in Villena, Alicante(!), are between 600 – 750 metres above sea level and at night can therefore offer vines some peace and rest from the fierce temperature of the daytime. The sunshine hours ensure that the Cabernet Sauvignon (the major shareholder in Santa Rosa) ripens perfectly (unlike, often, in areas considered it’s natural home – Bordeaux, for example) making the finished article almost instantly accessible, with no need to wait for any harshness to mellow down.
It’s a wine that is there to savour and as we drank it there was a reflective hush that enveloped us, until someone said, “Wow, I love this wine!”!
The final wine was Jane Ventura Reserva Rosado Cava a wine that has had extra time ‘en rima’ giving extra body, enough in this case to match a super small delicious homemade (of course!) cake creation!
* Next in the series: 12th November, Swiss Hotel, Moraira; 25th November Nox, Javea; 10th December Republic, Denia. Seats available at all venues – please contact me on 629 388 159 or please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org