Monthly Archives: June 2015

Matching Wine and Cava With Chocolate – A VÍ vid Workshop for Proava.


Wine and Chocolate? Can you really pair them together? Well, it is not a new concept but it still raises eyebrows. Around the world there have been some highly successful pairings such as Boal from Madeira, Zinfandel from California, Australian Liqueur Muscat’s. Asti Spumante from Italy works with light chocolate mousses.

Here in Valencia we knew of Bodega´s who have found that their red wines were also successfully paired, indeed the pre-requisite for a successful pairing is to start with a big, red wine!

We were asked to extend this and try chocolate in pairings with white wine and cavas as well.

First, the Bodega. To be successful we believed the wines needed to have sufficient body and quality and having recently attended the launch of their new range of wines could see potential in  the wines of Dominio de la Vega ( ) . Winemaker Dani Exposito has long had a reputation for making wines which express the best characteristics of the variety and the soils his vines are grown on.

Dominio de la Vega

Second the chocolatiers. Who better than the Sueca company,  Chocolate Artesano Comes? They have, after all been making artisan chocolate since 1870 and run a museum where you can see all the paraphernalia needed to make chocolate, observe their production process and best of all try their range!


For this tasting we decided to match the following wines and chocolates:-

Recuerdame 2014 Blanco Seco ( Sauvignon Blanc 80%, Chardonnay 15%  and Macabeo 5%, ).

Gotas de Chocolate con Leche.

Paraje Tornel 2012, 100% Bobal with 12 months oak ageing.

Chocolate Puro 70%.

DO Cava Brut Nature, 100% Macabeo, 14 months `en rima´.

Chocolate a la Piedra.

DO Cava Brut Reserva Especial ( 70% Macabeo, 30% Chardonnay) 22 months `en rima´.

Chocolate Picante.

Arte Mayor, DO Cava,60% Macabeo, 40% Chardonnay 36 months `en rima´.

Cacao Puro.

Choc Tasting 1

1. Recuerdame. Golden colour, clean and bright. On the nose it is intensely floral, concentrated, with elderflower. This is the Sauvignon Blanc asserting itself (the fruit is tropical, passion fruit, apricot), and then as it opens up the banana and pineapple from the Chardonnay emerge.

In the mouth, initially light, well-integrated fruit, alcohol and acidity, perfectly balanced with a long finish. Very good with creamy fish dishes.

This matched well with the creamy chocolate. Neither wine nor chocolate dominated the palate.


2.Paraje Tornel.

12 months in new French oak barrels, plus a minimum  of 12 months in bottle. Cardinal garnet red. Initially, on the nose, we find tertiary aromas from the oak ageing, toast, spices, coffee, cocoas,and mineral notes of the soil. Elegant, ripe red fruit such as plums, blackberries and red currants.

Full on entry, with silky and smooth tannins, an elegant acidity that adds vibrancy and balance to the whole. Match with all types of grilled or braised red meat and fermented raw milk cheeses. With dark Comes chocolate….it is `Caprice de Dieux´…

Probably the easiest to match. 70% pure chocolate matches well with the fruit, tertiary notes and the smooth tannins in this wine.

3. DO Cava Brut Nature.

At first sight has a yellow colour with fine bubbles.On the nose aromas of citrus and green apple with long-lasting floral notes , hints of bakery and pastry aromas. In the mouth expressive, dry on entry, balanced between the wine and the bubbles,  and a fat finish. Best pairing with seafood, fish, salads, spicy dishes, and also all kinds of appetizers.

Paired with the Chocolate a la Piedra, a traditional textured chocolate. We also tried this with the milk chocolate. Both worked suggesting that this wine might also match some desserts.


4. DO Cava Brut Reserva Especial.

20 % of the base wine spends 3 months in French oak barrels, and 22 months on the lees. At first sight it is bright golden-yellow colour with fine bubbles. On the nose, it shows complex aromas, ripe fruit (baked apple and apricot), white flowers and pastries and also vanilla.
In the mouth, very creamy with toasty notes, lively acidity and long elegant finish. Perfect match with spicy dishes, Asian food, white meat and chocolates as Comes Chocolate Picante.

In fact this was the ideal match, the best of the night. The piquancy and heat of the chilli in the chocolate was noticed only after it was swallowed where it `lit up´in the throat! With the depth of the wine matching it perfectly all present considered this a `marriage made in heaven!´


5 Arte Mayor.

It is made by blending  two harvests together to obtain a base wine with complexity, volume and personality. The 2009/2010 is a bright golden-yellow colour with  fine and persistent bubbles. On the nose, it has an intense, complex bouquet, mineral aromas (chalk), hints of baked apple and vanilla. There are also notes of patisserie (custard), and a subtly smoky backdrop . On the palate it is velvety, unctuous and intense, creamy, full-bodied, with a good structure and a long finish. Pairing: cheese, cold cuts and today we are going to match it with a special chocolate from C. Comes.

This was paired with the pure cacao. In fact this was perhaps too bitter with hindsight but both the Picante and Pure chocolates worked perfectly.

VÍ vid lead the tasting.

VÍ vid lead the tasting.

This experimental workshop was a huge success with lots of participation and expression of opinions in English! If anyone has any doubts we urge you to try it for yourself with an open mind – many were surprised how well the pairing worked in this workshop, part of Proava´s summer `Come y Bebe´ programme.

Proava Valencia

A Visit to Bodega Primitivo Quiles….Alicante´s Wine Story Starts Here!

Wines from Primitivo Quiles

Wines from Primitivo Quiles

Alicante´s oldest bodega, Primitivo Quiles, is to be found in the village of Monóvar. The family which owns it started their relationship with wine in 1780. Historically of course Alicante´s wine making traditions go back much, much further, some 2000+ years to the Iberian period, as is the case with much of the Valencian Community. However whilst the tradition may be long as with much else in life it has been subject to devastating events. Pre-phylloxera wines from Alicante were exported in bulk, but the most famous of them , Fondillon, went to the tables of royalty and the upper classes. There is no shortage of historical proof for this. Elizabeth 1st  of England `loved Alacant wine above all others´, her successor James 1st described his urine as being as `red as Alicante wine´  and Louis the 14th approaching the end of his life after a long illness called for Fondillon with sponge cakes. There is no evidence that pre-phylloxera, Alicante produced just Fondillon wines. It is more likely that wine-making was a community affair with wines being transported to Alicante for Export.

Oal Barrels for Fondillon.

Oal Barrels for Fondillon.

When Phylloxera hit France wines from Alicante, as well as Requena and Castellon were all exported to Bordeaux to help bulk up the wines of the region. But this did mean that old, aged wines were not produced to the same level that they had been. When phylloxera finally arrived in Alicante the bodegas were not capable of reacting fast enough and wine-making almost died out. Exports from Alicante fell by half in a single year. Fast forward a little, and with phylloxera gone, thought was being given to replanting the vineyards. However the Industrial revolution in Spain arrived, somewhat later than other parts of Europe, and those who might have worked in the vineyards or indeed owned them were tempted instead by the textile industry which was opening up nearby. Primitivo Quiles played a big part in the revival and production of this legendary wine and wine growing as a whole!

Abuelo Barrica 1892

Abuelo Barrica 1892

Despite the bad state of the economy Primitivo Quiles carried on with their traditional winemaking, even managing to preserve Fondillon throughout the whole period. In 1951 another Primitivo Quiles, this time the grandson joined the family consolidating production and setting the bodega on its course to the modern-day. By the 1970´s this had led to the introduction of new wines, expanding the range. The family originated in the hamlet of Raspay, near to El Pinoso where the family vineyards were. Today those vineyards are still used to produce the wines from the bodega although they have changed hands many times with death and inheritance.

 Rosado, Raspay, Blanco Caña and Tinto Coño.

Rosado, Raspay, Blanco Caña and Tinto Cono.

Monovar was chosen for the location of the bodega because it is near to the railway network which made transport so much easier. The vineyards are mainly old plots of Monastrell, up to 80 years old which produce low yields but high quality grapes. Monastrell traditionally is believed to have been imported to Castellon first ( Camp de Morvedre) from Greece and in France is known as Mourvedre. The wines are bright red, capable of long ageing which of course makes them ideal for Fondillon.

Tinto Roble

Tinto Roble

Fondillon is a rancio style of wine. The naturally fermented wines from over-ripe grapes are placed in large oak barrels where they are typically aged for a minimum of 10 years but usually much, much longer. Unlike Port and sherry which are fortified, no raw alcohol is added to the wine which reaches 16+% ABV naturally. Over time, the wine oxidises becoming rich and complex, and of course changing colour. The wines can be subjected to a solera system but at Primitivo Quiles wines from different vintages are blended with the barrels being refilled and left to age peacefully. The smallest amount of wine necessary is drawn each time a bottling takes place. The bodega still possesses two of the original barrels from 1892 but only one now has Fondillon in it. The other was filled with Moscatel in a year when there was insufficient wine to fill two barricas with Monastrell, thus starting the Gran Imperial wine we were to taste later. The old bodega is difficult to navigate and the day we visited wines were being pumped through long pipes. We were very lucky therefore to be given such a definitive and comprehensive tour!

Vine on the Terrace

Vine on the Terrace

Emerging into the sunlight and the  terrace we were about to be given an equally impressive tasting of the bodega´s products. First up was Blanco Caña 2014, a white from 100% Airen at 12%ABV. Pale yellow, very clean and bright with golden flashes, it was typical of the variety in that the nose is not very expressive, maybe a little citrus. In the mouth that converts to  fresh grapefruit juice acidity, a very nice fresh, easy drinking white wine! The 100% Monastrell Rosado Virgen 2014 is very popular in the United States. A fresh and bright strawberry pink with long legs this wine shows no move towards the fashion for French style pale wines! On the nose it is lightly floral with a hint of wild fennel. In the mouth it is very fresh, light , with good acidity to balance the fruit and a good, long finish. An excellent summer wine! ( 12.5%ABV) The Tinto Cono Nº 4 is also 100% Monastrell at 14.5%ABV. This time a red wine, it takes its name from the deposit in which the best barrels of Monastrell are blended. A nice fresh medium bodied wine it is cherry/ruby red with glycerinous long legs. On the nose it is a very traditional fresh Alicante style with morello cherry fruit. In the mouth it is initially smooth on entry with a hint of astringency but a long satisfying finish. The 2008 Raspay Reserva at 14%ABV has spent two years in old oak barrels. It has a distinctive red and yellow ribbon which replaced a blue and white one after a visit to Alicante from the then King in 1977 who reportedly liked the wine very much. A medium bodied garnet colour, reflecting the ageing process, it too has long glycerinous legs.

Writing Tasting Notes!

Writing Tasting Notes!

On the nose you note the oak ageing and tobacco leaf. In the mouth it is dry, but full , complex balsamic notes mixing with tobacco flavours and a long satisfying finish A wine to accompany good, rich food. Next we moved to the bodega´s more specialist products. We started with the Gran Reserva Fondillon 1948 at 16% ABV. This was drawn in 2000 and comes from a run of just 3000 bottles. Tawny in colour with a bright orange edge, it has long slow legs. On the nose it is rich and complex, raisins, nuts, toasty nuances with figs and honey. In the mouth, satisfying, complex, rich, smooth and complex it is an aperitif worthy of a good meal afterwards! The Moscatel Extra Vino de Licor at 15% is not a normal golden mistela. This is a nutty brown colour, with a tawny edge and gold flashes reflecting its barrel ageing. On the nose rich, ripe peach and apricot overlaid with caramel. In the mouth it is deep, complex, raisins, rich …quite fabulous!



The Bodega´s Vermut has been made for years, it is a style of aperitif very much back in favour in Spain currently. Deep tawny in colour, with long legs, it is fresh on the nose, with bitter herbs but in the mouth was fresh and almost slightly sweet. Finally we tried the 2003  Gran Imperial Moscatel, a vino generoso. This was drawn in 2013 and is from a run of just 182 bottles! A deep dark dense brown, almost liquorice in colour, it has old toffee and tobacco leaf in a complex rich nose. This is matched in the mouth! Intense, a completely different style of wine… a few drops on vanilla ice-cream would be perfect!

VÍ vid,  a comprehensive tasting,

VÍ vid, a comprehensive tasting,

This was a fascinating and highly educational visit by VÍ vid to a historic bodega carrying on a much longer historical tradition with wines of the highest quality. It also reflects the regional variety which makes wines from Alicante worth investigating and tasting against their cousins from the other provinces of Valencia. A truly unforgettable visit!

Bodegas Murviedro, Support for Regional Varieties…New Wines from Bobal!

MurviedroBobal15Bodegas Murviedro is one Valencia´s oldest having been formed by Swiss giants Schenk as their Spanish `partner´in 1927. Like many of the older bodegas it started off as an exporter of wines in bulk with its bodega in Valencia´s Grau district near the port.

With the redevelopment of Valencia this area lost a lot of its importance and  the bodegas fed with wine transported by railways before despatch on ships were largely demolished.

Schenk moved the bodega to the Requena area and today ( as Murviedro) has one of the largest and most modern bodegas ( dating to 1997) on the edge of the town, next door to UVÉ, the cava producer.

It has produced quality , if commercial, wines from Alicante, Utiel-Requena, Valencia as well as Rioja, Rias Baixas, Rueda and Tierra de Castilla . They also produce Cavas. They have produced several ranges of wines including the more modern `Frizzantes´ such as Estrella, with lower alcohol levels . Whatever the range the company philosophy is based on producing modern quality wines based on the use of the best quality grapes from the centre and South West of Spain.

In the Kitchen `Lab´

In the Kitchen `Lab´

The most advanced  vinification techniques are used including identifying the most appropriate yeasts for fermentation as these can make a big difference to the wine produced. Regular investment in new technologies and anything else that adds value to the finished product is a key element of their philosophy.

Nor does the bodega specialise in promoting the Noble varieties although  these are best known internationally, export being a major part of its business still – to no less than 50 different countries. Murviedro produces wines from the regional varieties, Monastrell in Alicante, Moscatel in Valencia, Bobal and Planta Nova in Utiel-Requena and Verdejo and Albariño although these may be blended in some products with the better known varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo.

This philosophy has been developing under Diego Talavera and Javier Solano who took over the helm from Pablo Ossorio.

Eva Máñez

And, so it was that we found ourselves at a presentation on Monday of a new collection of wines and a Cava so that the company could generate interest in a range of wines which demonstrate well the increased support for Utiel-Requena´s finest variety, Bobal. The launch took place to the specialist press and later to the restaurant trade and distributors etc.

The venue for this modern organisation was an equally modern restaurant, the Ricard Camarena Lab, where the innovative Michelin starred chef who has a number of outlets in Valencia, develops his ideas and undertakes demonstrations ( show-cooking).

Murviedro, Marq and La Viña June2015 001

The wines were to accompany  such a demonstration with  aperitifs and a light lunch.

Diego Talavera introduced the launch explaining the philosophy was to support the regional varieties as increased knowledge of this part of Spain was accompanied by wider recognition that these varieties produce increasingly better wines and are becoming more sought after.

Diego Talavera.

Diego Talavera.

The Bodega has set out to create a range of wines which exemplify the visual aspects, aromatic scents and flavours of Bobal. Ricard Camarena exemplifies the quality of traditional local produce married with modern techniques .

Ricard Camarena

Ricard Camarena

We commenced with an aperitif of Verdejo, a 2014 wine from the Murviedro Colección range with grapes grown in the Tierra de Castilla. It is a pale yellow wine with a fresh aromatic nose, demonstrating lots of rich tropical fruit and white flowers. In the mouth the balancing acidity is excellent, this is a very pleasant white wine, perfect with seafood, fish and rice dishes. It was served with `Cornete de ensaladilla Ricard Camarena´.

Next was a `Pastisset de boniato i foie´which accompanied theMurviedro Colección Roble Bobal. This young 2014 wine is from old vines, has undergone a long maceration at low temperature and after fermentation spent a short crianza of between 3-4 months in second use French oak. An intense young red colour with bright red tones, The nose is powerful and complex with fruits of the forest and floral hints. In the mouth it is fresh, quite fat, with round tannins and a long finish. For me it needs a little longer in bottle.

New Wines at the launch

New Wines at the launch

The lunch began with one of Ricard Camareno´s signature dishes `Capuccino de tomates asados y queso de Almedijar´. This dish, essentially a mousse of roasted tomato over a goats cheese base accompanied the young Vox Populi a Bobal from 2012. Once again from low producing older vines, the wine undergoes maceration, fermentation and Murviedro´s unique system for pumping over. The wine undergoes its second fermentation before spending six months in new French and American oak barrels and then 8 months more in bottle. Deep black cherry with hints of terracotta at the edge, good legs ( 13%ABV) .



On the nose complex and deep and showing typical  characteristics of the variety, red fruit, balsamic notes, toffee, vanilla. In the mouth it is fat, meaty, with rounded tannins and a long finish. Aimed very much at the export market this a modern style Bobal, very nice!

The `Canelon de calabacin y bogavente con kimchi y ajo negro´ was a perfect entry dish, full of complex flavours but none of the freshness of the lobster was lost. To match this another Bobal , the Murviedro Colección Reserva Bobal from 2011. Made in much the same way but with 12 months in French oak and another twelve in bottle. This is also a deep black cherry but with  a more marked terracotta edge. The red fruits in this wine are matched on the nose with an oaky base, and menthol, chocolate and toffee. In the mouth, silky, round tannins, smooth and a long finish.



The last red accompanied  `Pieza de ternera a la provenzal con verduras de temporada´. A spicy piece of shoulder of beef that melted in the mouth! The `Cepas Viejas´Bobal is from 2012. It  has eight months in French and American oak and then another eight in bottle. In the same presentation as the Vox Populi, ( an old style squat Bordeaux bottle) it is an intense black cherry colour. It too has notes of toffee and vanilla on the nose and in the mouth is concentrated, a serious wine!



Finally a DO Cava, `Àrts de Luna´ is a pure Chardonnay in the Brut style. It spends just 12 months in contact with the lees but it seemed longer to me. Pale to medium gold with a dense mousse, fine bubbles. on the nose patisserie, and white fruit, concentrated. In the mouth the bubbles are well-integrated, it is concentrated with fresh acidity but well-balanced. Very nice!!!

This was served with ` Espectacular plátano helado´, none of which is what it seems…a trampantojo!

Murviedro, Marq and La Viña June2015 024

This was an inspired launch using a modern chef with a modern bodega, matching traditional varieties and food but also made in a modern style in a modern and innovative location! For Murviedro it was the launch of several excellent wines, all of them good price to quality ratio which can only enhance their range in a major way…long may this drive to promote quality wines from traditional varieties continue. These are wines I will happily drink,  share with  guests and would like to share in tastings!

Murviedro, Marq and La Viña June2015 017












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