The Sparkling Wines of Bodega Iniesta

14th February 2018

The Sparkling Wines of Bodega Iniesta

Bear with me here, this is a sparkling wine article, I assure you!

For one who was once heavily involved in football: both amateur (I played in local leagues and coached schools’ and representative schools’ teams); and professional football (I spent six years as a professional scout for Liverpool FC) you may be surprised to hear me saying that, over the intervening years, I have become somewhat disenchanted with the sport.

Whilst I suppose that for me it will always be, to put it in the great Pele’s words, “The Beautiful Game”, I can’t help but feel that the name has become tarnished since those halcyon days when Pele, universally recognised as his generation’s best exponent, astonished us with his supreme skill as well as his humility and exemplary conduct. I’m sure you’ve now guessed where I’m coming from.

Pele, Sir Bobby Charlton, the late Bobby Moore, Franz Beckenbauer et al plus perhaps their more modern day equivalents like Gary Lineker and fast-forwarding to the wonderfully gifted, Messi, for example, must watch and read aghast at the shameful face of today’s football. It seems we can’t open our newspapers or turn on the radio and TV without hearing about, at best, the petty, petulant schoolboy squabbling of current practitioners of the now less than beautiful game; or indeed at worst, accusations of sexual harassment, violence and, currently in vogue, it appears, disgraceful racism.

Well, I recently experienced another side of professional football, one of which Pele and his like-minded friends would surely approve. At last a warm story about the most popular game in the world and, my wine-loving friends, a story related (eventually!), you’ll be glad to know, to Sparkling Wine!

Those of you who have at least an interest in football, despite all that’s currently wrong with it, will know the name Andrés Iniesta, scorer of Spain’s World Cup winning goal in 2010 and put simply, one of the best players in the world. Indeed his invaluable contribution to Barça’s midfield is one of the main reasons why Barcelona currently enjoy being lauded as the best club team on Earth. In sporting terms, he really is a living legend!

And it’s Andrés Iniesta who has managed to put a smile back on my face, not just when I see him play, but also because of a little known off the field activity in which he is involved.

Señor Iniesta, Andrés’ father and his family have always worked the land around a small village Called Fuenteabilla, not so far from Albacete. As a young man, using a horse he used to plough the fields surrounding the relatively grand finca (farmhouse) of the wealthiest man of the village, dreaming a seemingly impossible dream of one day owning his own land and planting vines to make and sell wines, on a small scale of course.

Well, when his son Andrés achieved part one of his own apparently intangible dream by signing as a professional player for Barcelona he used a significant part of his signing-on fee to realise that of his father’s. The wealthiest family of the village were approached, a price was agreed and Andrés was able to present his father with not only the land surrounding the finca, but the finca as well! Bodega Iniesta was born!

Bodega Iniesta is not a Glitterati style ‘trophy-bodega’ as are other wineries in different countries. Famous Rock Musicians, Actors, Film Directors and Sports-people have invested in wine operations, some with more success than others and some, really with no other thought than simply expanding their fame and wealth.

It’s clear from the outset that Andrés Iniesta has inherited his family’s passion for the land, for the vine and ultimately for the wine produced on it. The philosophy of the bodega is to produce wine that tops the price/quality ratio list where a celebrity’s wine will not boast celeb prices. No wonder a banner in the village proudly proclaims, ‘Iniesta Siempre Contigo! (Iniesta Always With You!)

Just before Christmas 2017, Andrés was given leave of absence from Barcelona CF to attend the launch of their third Charmat Method Sparkling Wine. Unable to attend myself, I was sent a sample of each of the three wines and I have to agree that they will present competition to the tidal wave of Prosecco (mostly made by the same method) currently swamping the UK.

Unlike the Traditional Method, where the second fermentation occurs in the bottle, the Charmat Method has this happening in a tank. The argument is that it makes a lighter, more delicate style of fizz than Cava – oh and that other one from France, etc! It’s also less expensive – which, of course, is part of the appeal.

Bodegas Iniesta has decided to make their sparkling wine, mostly, in a slightly drier style and crucially, they are not using the Glera grape variety and of course, their vines are growing in different soils with a different climate. It’s the Charmat Method, but it ain’t Prosecco.

I was impressed. Their Corazon Spumante White is a blend of Macabeo and Verdejo and this alliance, made to the Extra Dry style (in fact, at 12-14 gms/litre, the driest end of that style, really works. Firstly, as the cork is gently pulled, the escaping ‘sigh’ at first exudes a pleasant floral fragrance, in tandem with fruit notes – some baked apple (we can thank the Macabeo for this), with ripe pear and kiwi. For me, it’s this inherent fruitiness that puts it a distance above Prosecco! Try this with SE Asian food!

Whilst all three of the fizz portfolio are well packaged in nicely shaped bottles with pretty labels, the ladies will certainly admire the Corazón Rosé. We really like this wine – it’s made to the Provençal style in terms of its very pale pink, so looks compelling in the glass and were I asked, I’d say it has 12 gms sugar/litre, though the notes tell us it is again 12 -14.

There are cherries on the nose and the palate, again that fruit element is to the fore, with some fresh pomegranate juiciness. This will be brilliant with mushroom risotto, and indeed other rice dishes, as long as they aren’t too spicy. It’s also interesting to know that it is made with the Bobal red wine grape variety, indigenous to the Valencia region, giving it a little extra body for some lighter meat dishes.

Finally, the new release Corazón Spumante Moscato! For me this is a dessert wine, and a great way to finish off the evening, for those with a sweeter tooth. Lovers of the UK supermarket Proseccos will delight in this one particularly. It’s fun, with Jasmine flowers and white rose petals on the nose and a grapey, raisin flavour coming from its 100% Moscatel variety. Plus, considerably in its favour, considering the copious volumes drunk by admirers of its Italian rival, it’s just 5·5% abv!!

I believe Bodegas Iniesta is currently considering expanding its presence in the UK – I think they’d be well advised to do so!

Written by Colin Harkness

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