Pago de Tharsys…..Cocktail Fiesta!


On the Lake at Pago de Tharsys.

On the Lake at Pago de Tharsys.

 

Over the last eight years I have visited Pago de Tharsys, the Requena bodega with a top reputation for both DO Cava and for its DO Utiel-Requena wines, I have seen the bodega develop, attended anniversary and historical tastings, enjoyed the launch of new wines, art exhibitions  and watched the gardens by the lake mature.

Once a pleasant open space which ran down to the edge of the lake where the geese could be fed with bread, now this garden has a hedge of honeysuckle, the fig trees and the nisperos have filled out and last night the space had been turned into an outside cocktail bar with old wine barrels masquerading as tables, a disco and a select band of invitees, tempted to attend the `Fiesta de Brisa de Tharsys. ´  The was the first real chance to try in one session a range of products that the bodega has been steadily introducing over the last two to three years or so.

Ana and Vicente...cocktail makers of the year!

Ana and Vicente…cocktail makers of the year!

Vicente Garcia, one half of the duo who own and run this bodega ( with partner Ana Suria) has been as passionate about his distillery as he has the quality cavas they produce. It all began with orujo, a small range of clear brandys ( which  the French call `marc´ and the Italians call `grappa´) and I well recall the first time I tasted the Merlot, followed later by an Albariño and on one visit a full strength Bobal. These spirits are not for the fainthearted, in the first place they are made from the pips and stalks of the grapes, but despite their strength ( 42%ABV) they are too easy to drink, either as a digestif after a meal or chilled as an aperitif!

More recently Vicente turned his distillery to getting the best out of first oranges, then lemons and introduced the `Federica´range. First an  orange liqueur  marketed as Arancello. This is served generally over ice and the experience is pure orange essence which fills the mouth with both a sweetness and a concentration! It , like their homage to Amalfi´s `Limoncello´ which has the same effect but with concentrated lemon flavours are 30%ABV. Now there is a third variety, an orange cream a refreshing lighter version at a more gentle 17% ABV!

 

Mojito, citrics range and the Brisa de Orujo.

Mojito, citrics range and the Brisa de Orujo.

So why stop there? Why indeed!

After all if you are the only bodega making these drinks and commercialising them you may as well go the whole hog!

Orujo can be used to make a whole range of drinks! Traditionally there has been a Licor de Hierbas, an orujo seeped with herbs, available throughout Valencia and many other parts of Spain. These can be fiery and not to everyone’s immediate taste! The Licor de Hierbas from the Brisa range is 30% and is very subtle, not at all like the more commercial counterparts. To me it was more like a French wine style such as `Chambery´the herbs being lighter and the liquor less strong. Very different and very nice!

Mojito!

Mojito!

And of course it can be used to make cream based drinks such as the Crema de Orujo at 17% ABV another light and refreshing aperitif on its own or as a mixer. This would give Bailey´s a run any day!

Somewhere in the middle is the Orujo with cafe, at 30% ABV another interesting post dinner drink. Initially the coffee is quite subtle….but wait…it just grows in the mouth leaving a very satisfying aftertaste!

Probably the most popular drink on the night however was the homage to Cuba, the Mojito! Unbelievably only 12.5% this green gem over ice with a mint leaf in the bottom of the glass was the best I have ever tasted….a view I suspect that was widely shared given the number of bottles that were sold on the night!

Ana has long been a supporter of local produce as well. Former wine school professor Felix Cuartero is behind an enterprise making grape juice products from the local red variety Bobal, non-alcoholic, healthy drinks full of anti-oxidants and in particular resveratol. With his business partner Carlos Iranzo of the local bakery and patisserie chain they are producing ice-creams using the juice. I have tasted these sorbets and ice-creams before and they are outstanding so on a warm night they were a very welcome addition to the skewers of melon, water-melon and kiwi which accompanied the cocktails! Most yummy? The Yoghurt ice-cream with a splash of limoncello!!!! Very versatile !

The range is available on-line (www.arancellofederica.com) through Facebook, Twitter and other on-line sources or directly at the bodega shop.

This was a fascinating evening in the sunshine with breezes cooling the proceedings. If anyone is thinking of a cocktail evening you could do worse than start with this range!

Good with Ice-cream!

Good with Ice-cream!

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