On the evening of the 6th March 2018 my wife and found ourselves on the 35th floor of Londons Sky Garden attending the ‘Wines from Spain’ event in the esteemed company of the three wine Amigos Olly Smith, Tim Atkin MW and Oz Clarke.
Regular readers of this blog will know I love Spanish wines so for me, this was heaven and being on the 35th floor we were closer than you think.
Armed with my list I’d made earlier browsing the catalogue of producers the first stop we made was at the Freixenet stand looking for a particular Cava the ‘Paraje de Calificada Can Sala’ this is a newly formed classification for Cava in which a producer can only get Cavas qualified for Paraje if they vinify 85% of their own wines. That means that many of the producers will be excluded just because they do not own enough of their own vines. There are so far 24 producers interested in presenting cavas for this new classification, according to the latest news from the regulatory board. But only 12 sites have been granted the new label, but there will hopefully be more to come in the future.As it happened one of the three wine Amigos, Olly was already at the stand sampling this fantastic Cava and we were both impressed with the quality.
Also on my list was a lesser known white wine called Txakoli (pronounced Chocoli) primarily from the Basque region in the north of Spain , Olly took us over to the Gonzalez Byass stand and we tasted a bright and spritzy Txacoli Blanco called ‘Txomin Etxaniz’ (£15) made from grape varieties Hondarrabi Zuri & Hondarrabi Beltza, this was a very good example of what this wine is all about. If served chilled it’s the perfect summer drink, almost like someone dropped an actual lemon refresher in the glass.
Other whites that deserve a mention is the wonderful Godello, one of my favourites and we tasted some particularly good ones especially at the Entoria & Co stand, notably, the ‘O Luar do Sil 2016’ (£15) and the ‘Hacienda del Carmen 2016’ (£18) although the latter is a blend which includes Godello but both really decent.
A special mention goes out to the Andina Trade stand and their outstanding Verum wines in which the guys kindly let us taste, these wines were not on show but as they had some opened bottles from the earlier Press & trade tasting and asked if we would like to try them. The first and my favourite was an oaked rich tasting Sauvignon Blanc which was sublime. We also tasted their blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztraminer, aromatic and again very nice.
Big thanks to Andina for letting us try these wines, we were suitably impressed.
The trouble with these events is there is never enough time to try everything you want and I often spend too much time on sparkling and whites to find that I’m suddenly rushing around at the end to fit in the reds, so I made a conscious effort this time to make sure I tasted the reds I’d listed.
Part of my own personal brief was to compile a short list to pick out a bottle of red preferably a Rioja to celebrate my 60th birthday this June and as the event had three experts I thought I would ask for their help in picking out that special bottle to which they all readily agreed.
Amongst their recommendations were, in no particular order the…
Contino Reserva 2012 CVNE (£23)
Contino Vina Del Olivo 2014 CVNE (£62)
Imperial Gran Reserva 2010 CVNE (£50)
Muga Seleccion Especial 2011 (£26)
I also found some stunning Riojas which made my choice even harder, some of my highlights were the…
Urbina Seleccion 1994 and 2001 (£29 & £22)
Vina Ardanza 2009 (£29)
Torre Ona Martelo Reserva 2012 (£35)
La Rioja Alta, Gran Reserva 904 – 2009 (£50)
I must admit I’d be very happy to drink any of these, to celebrate a special birthday and big thanks to the guys for helping me out, although they’ve now made my decision a lot harder.
Other highlights I must mention were on the Familia Torres stand where there were three wines I really enjoyed, a Priorat called Salmos 2014 (£22), Purgatori 2014 (£20) (blend of Garnacha, Carinena & Syrah) and a brilliant Sauvignon Blanc Fransola 2015 (£23)
Murcia and Valencia are close to our hearts and I really enjoy wines from these areas. Murcia, Monastrell (aka Mourvedre) Hecula 2016 (£11) is great value for money as was the Coleccion 2014 (£17) (blend of Monastrell & Cabernet Sauvignon). Valencia, I was partial to the Pasion de Bobal (£12) again fabulous value for money.
Listen, like all these tastings I could go on and on about all the brilliant wines we tasted but this would be a very long write-up but I have to mention how good an event this was and how amiable and knowledgeable the three wine men were, so a big thank you to them for being so approachable and I hope to attend more of their tastings.
Also thanks to ‘Wines from Spain’ and the stunning Sky Garden for a wonderful venue.