Monthly Archives: August 2015

Bodega Mas de Rander Revisited – The Innovation Continues.

Mas de Rander

Mas de Rander

It is hard to believe that I have not been back to this eco-sustainable bodega since my initial visit in April 2012, just five months after the bodega opened. ( ).

Owner Juan Domingo Tárrega had kindly agreed to our request for a visit when we had met him in Peñiscola the week before.

The bodega´s project continues apace and little had changed visibly either inside or outside. Juando explained that the two main wines, `Syrah´ and `Temps´ were well established in the market, still very much the local restaurant trade.The bodega has been gaining recognition, not least winning a silver award for the Syrah in a prestigious International competition for the variety, just one of eight from Spain and in which France, Chile  and Australia had predominated.

Silver award for the Syrah.

Silver award for the Syrah.

Juando told us  about developments and plans for the future before going on a visit to the bodega below us. He explained that he had  plans  to possibly  introduce a new white wine.

White wine lable.

White wine lable.

The on-line shop offers a white from Macabeo, Viognier and Moscatel, three of the white varieties that they grow, but he is much more interested in a new variety, Picapulla. This is the same variety grown down the French Mediterranean coast and known as Picpoul de Pinet. There is good reason for him to consider this variety.

In the Vineyard.

In the Vineyard.

Firstly it is a variety, sold from Sete in the Llanguedoc  to the Spanish border, the vineyards close to the sea and which sells out annually,  bought by those in the know to accompany the local oysters and mussels etc grown in the lagoons such as Bouzigues. Mas de Rander may be physically on top of the mountain range which runs down the coast near Torreblanca but it is the closest bodega to the sea in Spain, its vineyards enjoying sea breezes which help keep the vines healthy and the grapes free from stress as temperature changes are less marked.

Further, some of the varieties planted most recently are now ready to produce wine.

mdr deposit

Two reds fall into this category, first is Garnacha Tintorera and Juando is interested in making a monovarietal from it which would be the first to be produced in the Valencian Community and sold with 12 months bottle ageing without having been in cask. Normally it would be blended with other varieties.

Second is Monastrell which should be ready to give its first wine in 2016. He is also interested in producing his own monovarietal,  from this autoctonal variety.

We set off on a tour before tasting from deposit, some of the varietals that Juando has ready for his future wines.

Juando selects from deposit.

Juando selects from deposit.

Some changes were noted and the bodega was awaiting a final clean before the harvest starts the next week.

In the deposit room, there were more of the stainless steel tanks he prefers. He explained he does not use the double skinned type. He prefers to use `plaques´ to control the temperature of the fermentation. This is confined to contact with the core of the wine to avoid heat loss through the walls and is better than cooling random parts of the tanks with the traditional `serpentines´. Moreover, temperature can be controlled more rapidly this way.

In the barrel park.

In the barrel park.

In the barrel room there were more barricas than on my last visit, French, American and Hungarian but his Russian barrels have now been firmly rejected.

Following a trip around the bottling line etc we returned to the deposit room and found some wine-glasses for the next stage of the visit.

The first wine we tried was the Merlot 2014. This is giving Juando a bit of a dilemma. Should he use it as normal in a blend with Cabernet Sauvignon ( Temps) for example or release it as a monovarietal?

mdr riki tasting 2

The wine is a vibrant plum red in colour, medium bodied, clean, with very long slow legs. ( This is a vineyard which cannot produce a red wine with less than 14% ABV and usually they are nearer to 15%!)

On the nose the plum and damson fruit are rich and ripe.

In the mouth the wine is immediately rich, ripe, meaty, full of flavours of red and black plums and it has a very long finish.

mdr vivid book

It is a little lighter in depth of colour than maybe I had expected but it has a very solid structure. One half of VÍ vid thought it might be best in a blend to which that structure would be added and that it might lose some of the  fruit which makes it so currently attractive in the bottling process and not last with time in bottle. On the other hand the other half felt it was worth trying as a monovarietal because the wine is so attractive now as it is. No wonder Juando has a dilemma!

The second wine was the Syrah 2014, destined to be the next vintage of the wine which is sold as a monovarietal. Annual production of this wine is about 20,000 and this will be bottled in October. A short period to handle bottle-sickness and it will be on the market in the new year.

Garnacha ( left ) and syrah.

Garnacha ( left ) and Syrah.

Medium bodied wine, a little deeper cherry in colour, again with long slow legs. On the nose this is what the Spanish call a `bomba de frutas!´ It is full of raspberry fruit. In the mouth it is fresh, fruity and a big mouthful. It is no wonder this is a popular wine.

Third wine was the new Garnacha Tintorera, 15% ABV, with 10 months in deposit. . Very deep black cherry in colour, dense, opaque. Youthful long legs, coloured the sides of the glass.

On the nose blackcurrant, Cassis, mature black fruits. In the mouth initially a little astringent it had a creamy side to it as well. Full bodied, meaty, fruity, with depth, this too could end up as a monovarietal, with around 1500 bottles only it will be a flagship wine.


Finally with 10 months in oak, then 6 months further in deposit to stabilize the wine we tasted the base of the 2012 `Temps´.

A pure Cabernet Sauvignon this was garnet in colour with long legs.  Very reminiscent of the variety with lots of characteristic notes, slightly vegetal, fruity, with menthol and herbs in the background.

In the mouth, it is strong, very rich and round, full of mature fruit, long , full complex finish and a little salty. Elegant, but it faces blending later with Syrah and or Merlot.

VÍ vid in the barrel park.

VÍ vid in the barrel park.

Once again we had spent a very useful morning learning more about the wines from Castellon and the development of wines and their evolution. On reflection we both noted that wines from this bodega have much more notable fruit in their make-up than those from inland near Les Useres and Benlloch itself. We could not help wondering if this was at least in part due to the location of the vineyards closer to the sea. Certainly their counterparts from just 15-40km away have more `terroir´than Juandos wines.

The future wines from Mas de Rander certainly have potential!


Roll of Honour, the Syrah awards.

Roll of Honour, the Syrah awards.






Eating in El Saler (Valencia) ? VÍ vid Recommends Arroceria Estibador.



South of Valencia, across the new river bed, ( built to avoid floods like those which caused death and destruction in the City in 1957) , is the Huerta Sud and the Albufera Natural Park. This very rural area is highly agricultural in its nature, here start the rice fields.

Most tourists exploring the area head straight for El Palmar famed for its restaurants.

However fewer know that the family friendly beaches at Pinedo and El Saler are also a good bet, or that there are several restaurants on the road running just behind the beach which separates it from the fields beyond. This stretch of beach and the two towns are just 10 minutes by car from the City of Arts and Sciences and a bus service also runs down this road.

Finding ourselves in El Saler this week we went to  L´Estibador, one of the restaurants which fronts right onto the beach.

From outside the temptation is to think it is another of the `chiringuitos´ for which Valencia´s beach front is famous. Any such thoughts disappear as you walk through the door into a very well-appointed reception area with views into the restaurant itself.

VÍ vid in the Chill-out bar

VÍ vid in the Chill-out bar

Inside a bright airy restaurant opens up, with well-appointed tables. We were shown first to a chill out area and offered aperitifs whilst we sat in comfy armchairs enjoying the views out onto the beach, the blue-green sea glistening and sparkling in the summer sunshine.

Overhead an ample number of fans kept the air circulating freely and our drinks cool but we were offered refreshers before moving to the table.

We had been greeted by the Restaurant Director and Somellier, Lester López Estrada and it was he who showed us to our table which looked straight out over the beach.

Lester López Estrada, Restaurant Director

Lester López Estrada, Restaurant Director

The restaurant offers both a set-price menu meal ( currently 22€) or an A La Carte menu with an average spend of just under 40€ a head.

Lester chose some dishes from the A la Carte option for us we and started with a take on a Valencian salad, with local Perello tomatos, anchovy, Boqueron and salazones shaved over the top. This was a fresh and appetising dish, top quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar being available to the taste of the individual diner, the sweet tomato contrasting well with the salty salazones and the fish.



With this we drank Menade Verdejo an organic white wine from Rueda which was fresh and clean and complemented the dish perfectly.

There are dishes which have to be tried, either because they contain your favourite ingredients or because they sound too good to be missed.

Carrying on with the `entrantes´, the next dish was  tuna, cooked at low temperature, aubergine colour in the centre but perfectly tender. This is served with a salsa and  emulsion ( pesto, a salsa  of garlic and almonds with pickled  onion and tomate confitada.) The combination of flavours and textures make this dish unforgettable.



Next we tried a signature dish Octopus from the Brassa . The Brassa is neither a barbecue nor a grill. It is a wood based fire over which food is cooked giving quite distinct flavours to the food , different to  charcoal. It is a very important part of Valencian gastronomy. The Octopus was accompanied by  papas arrugadas, an emulsion of piquillo peppers, served with a garnish of crumbs of aubergine and black garlic. Again, the octopus was perfectly tender matching well with the textures and flavours.



With this we drank an Albariño, Pazo  Barrantes, voluptuous, citrus, floral with pears. Elegant with a long finish.

Our fourth entrante was foie,  on a panettone base with a confit. This was sweet, concentrated and a perfect way to prepare for the main course to come.

Foie mi-cuit

Foie .

The wine chosen to accompany this was from Lanzarote, a white blend of Malvasia and Moscatel from Bermejo. It is some time since I have tasted white wine from Lanzarote, a former favourite holiday destination. This wine was aromatic and fresh on the nose. In the mouth it was complex and spicy, but not so full or rich that it competed with the foie. Excellent choice and probably the best of the three whites!



Our main course was an arroz, rodaballo and gambas. In season it is served with ajos tiernos ( green garlic) .

The key to all seafood rices is getting the stock right first in which the rice is cooked. In this case a bigger paella pan is used with a thinner depth of rice. The stock is built up in stages by adding the ingredients and concentrating the natural flavours. It is however more difficult to obtain a good socarrat as the difference in cooking time between this and burning the rice is minimal! This dish was superb, it was a combination of flavours to die for and the first time I had had turbot cooked this way. A Repetir!

The wines

The wines

As we ate we spoke  to Lester about the wine selection. All the wines we had tasted were from outside Valencia but the wine list contained a good selection of Valencian wines. He explained that the restaurant enjoys a mixed clientele and at times when local families are predominating then many local wines are sold. But they also have a lot of visitors from the rest of Spain who know the wines much better from Rioja and Ribero del Duero for example. He aims to satisfy all tastes although he conceded that more Valencian wines could be sold with recommendation.

We were also joined by Nuria Sanz who owns and runs the restaurant with her mother and family. She explained that they had tried many of the local rices that make up the base for their dishes but had decided the local Bomba variety was the best, being consistent and of a high quality.

With Nuria Sanz

With Nuria Sanz

For Nuria, her clients always come first and her philosophy is that they should be treated as if they were in her home.

We moved on to dessert, an ice cream ravioli with carpaccio of pineapple, very elegant!

Ravioli and carpaccio

Ravioli and carpaccio

This was served with Casta Diva Moscatel Miel, a highly concentrated wine from DO Alicante.

Finally, with the coffee we were introduced to Chef Pascual Leydet who explained his philosophy was to use the traditional  cuisine of the seaside but with modernist touches. We had no doubt that this was being fully achieved.

We can only recommend this restaurant very highly. Attention to detail was perfect. Plates, knives and forks were changed with every dish, the tablecloths and knapkins and glasses were all of high quality.

For the waiting staff nothing was too much to do for the customer.

This was one of the best dining experiences we have had and we will be going back!






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