In some of our previous posts, we have mentioned our love for wines made in Alicante.
Their wines are well priced, but they are underrated and under the radar. Pre Pandemic (and when we still owned the wine bar), we had the pleasure of going to Alicante for a holiday and during that trip, we were introduced to a diverse range of wineries, wine styles, and local grape varieties.
During this vacation, we discovered wines from Gutiérrez de la Vega while dining at Restaurante L’Escaleta, in Cocentaina. At the time of our visit, this restaurant had two Michelin stars (and still does today), so when I was presented with the wine menu, I opened it with some trepidation. If you know a little about wine, this feeling can often happen as certain questions cross your mind…’Will the wine list live up to expectation?’ ‘Will there be anything on the list of reasonable value?’ ‘Will I find something unique to try?’…you get the picture.
In this particular case the "wine menu" was more of a wine book. It is always fun to check out the prices of the big names in the wine world, but after this initial research, I decided to focus my attention on local wines. This is when I noticed a wine made from a grape called Giró. This was my first introduction to the Giró grape, so I asked the staff about it and, after their brief explanation, I decided to order it. It was called "Imagine" and yes, this wine is a tribute to John Lennon. The wine was served and our degustation dinner began in earnest. As each dish was gradually presented to us we found ourselves paying more and more attention to the wine. “Imagine” is a fruity, delicate, red wine with a medium body but enough backbone to complete the tasting menu. This wine made a huge impression on us and the name is practically impossible to forget.
Back in Mallorca, I decided to search for this wine and add it to our wine bar collection. It took a great deal of time and effort, but I eventually managed to obtain 12 bottles. However, once I sold it all, I could not find it again.
“Imagine” is one of the wines created by Gutiérrez de la Vega. Back in the 70´s the frontman Felipe, and his wife Pilar decided to take charge of the family vineyards. They moved into an old country house near Javea and began to produce their wines. But Felipe was no ordinary winemaker. From the beginning, he was interested in renovation and innovation. Soon their wines became recognized by many and were enjoyed in some of the best restaurants. The peak of their popularity came in the form of a Spanish Royal Wedding in 2004 when one of their sweet wines was chosen to be served at the Royal Banquet.
Felipe always wanted to be different and to do things his way, so some of his wines were misunderstood at the time. For example, he was creating orange wine (now super trendy among wine geeks) back in 1998. He was also doing what he could to preserve the local variety Giró when the general trend was to plant international varieties. Giró wines are now very much appreciated by sommeliers and they are in high demand.
Felipe also put his heart and his money into sweet wines and Fondillón, a style of oxidative sweet wine unique to Alicante (think of it as a wine that is between a port and a sherry). Regional grapes such as Moscatel and Monastrell were always present in Gutiérrez de la Vega wines, making them very representative of the Spanish Levante.
Felipe and Pilar’s legacy has now been handed down to their daughters, Violeta (who is a Bordeaux-trained winemaker) and Clara. All of the work related to the winery is done by family, which is unique in this day and age.
Gutiérrez de la Vega wines can be split into two categories: Dry and sweet.
In the dry category our favourites are:
- Casta Diva Cosecha Dorada
100% dry Moscatel. Although Moscatel is not going through its best moment in history, this wine is not what you would expect it to be. It is light and crisp, and it pairs amazingly well with Asian food. The aromas are subtle so you can enjoy them without getting tired of them. This wine grows on you.
- Viña Ulises Giró and Garnacha
People believe that wines from Alicante and Murcia tend to be bold and rich. This wine will prove the opposite. It is light, elegant, fruity, and delightful. This wine is pure seduction in a glass.
- Rojo y Negro
This red wine is dedicated to the French writer, Stendhal. It is a fragrant red wine with beautiful secondary notes of red fruit, smoked meats, and incense.
As previously mentioned above.
In the sweet range we love:
- Casta Diva Cosecha Miel
This Moscatel is an entry-level wine, so you can taste a classy sweet wine without the need to purchase the pricier Cosecha Real. This wine has notes of dried apricots and honey. It also has a good level of acidity, which makes it a perfect pairing with fruity desserts.
- Recondita Armonia Tinto Dulce
You know the level of success of wine when you take it to a dinner party and every guest remembers it. This sweet red wine is rich and jammy, with hints of spices… And, oh so delicious! Dark chocolate desserts are the way to go with this wine.
So, how do you become a legend in the wine world?
Believe in yourself, persevere with what you believe in, and fulfill your dreams and ideas by doing what you like, regardless of the critics.
Just like Felipe and Pilar did.
Time will prove you were right to follow your dreams.
‘You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one…'