The Life of Wine

 |  December 25, 2010

The Spanish Armada – here to stay.

I trust most of us have made it through to 2011 relatively unscathed and if you imbibed your favourite nectar a little too much, then I hope your recovery was swift. I have news for you on hangover cures – there aren’t any. Some advice though…drink quality. Your body will thank you in the morning.

2010 saw the birth of the new wine initiative from CityWine, the wine arm of Citylife. Although the concept of wine events is not new or unusual, I witnessed a couple of events last year that had a point of difference and a real sense of purpose about them. Having seen the CityWine event plan for 2011, we are in for some unique experiences with wines and food – even venues – that I suspect will live in the palate memory for years to come.

One of the upcoming events will be a Spanish wine tasting and dinner, partly inspired by a recent tasting of some excellent Spanish wines at Su Casa Tapas Restaurant courtesy of Horeca Supply Company. It seems as though the Chiang Mai market has its fair share of Italian and French wines with a token selection of Chilean and Spanish.

Spain, the third largest world wine producing country has a diverse and interesting range of grape varieties and wine styles. The star of the past and future is undoubtedly Tempranillo (tem-pra-nee-yoh). Blended with Garnacha, or Grenache as we know it. Tempranillo is the grape behind the traditional Rioja (ree-o-kah) – a full bodied somewhat tannic red with a capacity to age beyond its owner’s life span. Influenced by flying winemakers, new world marketing success and popularity of wine amongst the younger generations, the wines of Spain have become infinitely more modern in style. Distinctive flavours and structures remain but marry well with new oak and newer world grape varieties making a very drinkable compromise.

One of the highlights of the tasting was the 2001 Celler los Trovadores ‘Citareus’. A blend of Carignan (for depth of colour), Grenache (for power and richness), and Cabernet Sauvignon (for structure and new world appeal) the ‘Citareus’ is jam packed with rich prune, chocolate and spices. The wine spends 14 months in new oak and a further 24 months in the bottle – the ageing is done for you which is a good thing judging by its headiness and backbone. At around 1800 baht per bottle, ‘Citareus’ will be a special occasion wine for most and perhaps one to put down for a few more years.

Big sister comes in the form of 2004 los Trovadores ‘Gallicant’. Shiraz replaces Cabernet Sauvignon in this case and an extra year in bottle is allowed. little more expensive but well worth the money. The wine is laced with dark berries, exotic spice and possesses a balance and elegance not seen in the ‘Citareus’. Interestingly, some of the ‘Gallicant’ grapes are grown on pre-phylloxera vines. Phylloxera is the name given to the nematode which devastated much of Europe’s vineyards in the late 19th century. Fruit from pre-phylloxera vines often show extra degrees of elegance and finesse.

I have complete admiration for the wine producer who is able to make consistent wines with personality at the lower price level. The Mesta range of wines from Ucles, near Madrid are excellent examples of this. Mesta 2009 White made from Moscatel (Muscat) is a fresh, dry white with slight tropical flavours while the Mesta 2009 Tempranillo is a pretty little red with vibrant berry fruit, firm but smooth tannins and exceptionally well balanced. These wines are suited to all day drinking and are well matched with a huge range of foods. They are typically tapas wines and perfect for our climate. Great to see a new range of wines with quality from top to bottom.

I’m signing off now to give this glass of ‘Gallicant’ my undivided attention. Until then I look forward to your questions or comments to

Cheers, Jon Hyams

Best Buys – January 2011.

• Mesta White 2009
Light and refreshing with some tropical notes. Is this the answer to Pinot Grigio? You decide.
650 baht CityWine

• Mesta Red 2009
Vibrant berry fruit, medium bodied and lovely chewy, smooth tannins.
650 baht CityWine

• Mataparda Roble 6 Crianza 2008
Gorgeous blend of Shiraz and Tempranillo. Cherry fruit and spice with hints of aniseed. Rounded and structured.
720 baht CityWine

• Mataparda Roble 15 2008
Riper and more oak than Roble 6, this wine shows lovely raisin, aniseed and dark berry. Needs to breathe for 15 minutes in the glass.
790 baht CityWine