The Botley Hill Farmhouse team was recently treated to a visit from Noemi Calaresu of Coto Pelayo, a Madrid-based organisation dedicated to the promotion of Spanish wines and cuisine.
Here at the Farmhouse, we go out of our way to offer our customers wines that are anything but run-of-the-mill, so it was great to meet Noemi and learn that her organisation is very supportive of family-owned and independent Spanish wineries making tremendous red, white and rosé wines.
We’re always happy to talk wine so it was very useful for us to get together with Noemi for a guided wine tasting, and to learn more about the vineyards, viticulture and production techniques that result in some of Spain’s best regional wines.
We discussed (and tasted) a number of wines, and heard that the main white grape variety in Spain is Verdejo, which is the grape that is used by the Regil family to produce Vego de Tera. As far as we know, we are the only inn in the UK to list this natural wine, which will soon carry an organic label. It is the perfect wine for summer; especially good with fish and shellfish. It’s interesting to note that the fruit is harvested at night, making use of the cold temperatures to preserve the aromatics and freshness of the grapes, and that really does come through in the finished wine.
Next we tried Vina Bemposta Albarino, with Noemi assuring us, "these Albarino wines never disappoint." She told us this one comes from a very important family-owned winery where it is made with a lot of care, and that a new vintage is coming soon. Albarino wines last very well – two or three years – which is unusual for a white wine and due to the good acidity levels of the Albarino grape. The wine, which is produced in the cool, maritime Galicia area of Spain, is very fresh and a fine match for light dishes, starters, fish and as an aperitif sipped, of course, while sitting on the terrace at Botley Hill Farmhouse watching the sunset over the North Downs!
An even finer wine is Bouza de Rei, another Albarino. "One of the top 100 Albarinos in the world, out of many thousands," Noemi informed us. When you consider it is produced from 80 year old vines before being put in French oak barrels for two years (not just any oak, but "more expensive oak from a specific wood," according to our expert), it’s no surprise that this tastes as good as it does.
We also tasted a number of rosés. One that evoked a discussion was an extremely pale, aromatic Mirabueno rosé, which is lovely served cold on a warm day; we learnt its delicate hue is down to the fact that the grape skins come into contact with the juice for a matter of just minutes.
Then it was onto the reds, which we were told come from an area that sits some 150km north of Madrid. A primarily cold region, in the summer it is very hot, and the variations in temperature produce aromatic wines with intense flavours. Many have won Wine Up awards including the Viyuela X Aniversario 2011 and the new vintage Crianza we tasted.
Our wine list is changing all the time as we enjoy working closely with our wine supplier, Olivers of Copthorne, to bring our customers rare, affordable finds that make a visit to Botley Hill Farmhouse all the more memorable. It was a privilege to have Noemi over from Madrid, as she really brought the wines alive for us, and also very useful to her to hear our feedback and customer comments. Once thing's for sure: fine Spanish wines will always have a special place in our hearts - and our wine cellar!