In vino veritas….
Yesterday we headed for the hills just north of Sayalonga, (about 40 minutes along another scary road -engendering a few shrieks from me!), but with amazing mountain views and a rugged landscape. It was hot and humid , and threatened rain. Although this part of Andalucia has very low rainfall indeed.
We were going with friends to the famed boutique winery and restaurant Bodegas Bentomiz, with its 100 year old `bush` vines that cling to the slate soil hillside, enjoying the hot sun and cooling sea breezes from the Mediterranean. The humidity here is generally low, so the vines flourish, ripening on the ground, with little threat of rot.
The winery is owned by Dutch couple Clara Verheij and Andre Both, who bought the land not knowing that it had been a vineyard. They rescued the vines, and then built a stunning Bauhaus style building clad in slate, light and airy inside, that sits so well in the landscape. The restaurant has a glass floor in the centre, so you can see down into the production area and bottling lines.
A `Grand Design` indeed.
They produce over 30,000 bottles annually of their Ariyanas wines, (Ariyanas is a place name, a Moorish hamlet that was next to the vineyard before the reconquest. It means `aromatic` which is very appropriate , as the wines they produce are elegant and aromatic, that’s for sure.
They are sold throughout Spain and Europe, and are served in over 20 Michelin-Starred restaurants in Europe.
On top of this , there are wine tastings and tours , wine centred gourmet lunches ,and summer concerts and special events.
The friends we went with are real wine aficionardos , so we were in good company for our tour and lunch.
The lovely English Rose, talks you through the vines and the vinification techniques, in both English and Spanish, as you walk around the stainless steel, temperature controlled tanks, and oak barrels. All so interesting. These ancient vines are amazing , growing on such steep slopes, and are harvested early, in August, when temperatures can reach the 40 degrees, so picking is an exhausting task!
After the tour, we tasted four Ariyanas wines, and swooned over all of them!
The Ariyanas Rome Rosada 2019, is delicate and fresh , quite minerally in the mouth, and with a nose of red fruits and flowers, one of my favourites.
The Ariyanas Seco Sobre Lias Finas 2018, is a dry aromatic Moscatel with scents of Jasmine and Elderflower.
The Ariyanas Vino Tinto 2019 is full of fruity cherry aromas, intense and fragrant with sweet tannins in the mouth.
Their two sweet wines are unfortified. I have ( with age!) grown to love a pudding wine, and we bought a bottle of the Ariyanas Naturalmente Dulce 2018 , to take home. It is made with a Moscatel grape and is vividly sweet and mineral. Delicious served with fruity puddings.
We had booked the Tasting Menu, which was paired with a different glass of wine for each of its seven ! ( if you count two amuse bouche), courses, and Clara talked us through each wine .
The food was divine. Perfectly cooked , and creatively presented using fresh local produce from the market in Malaga, and herbs and flowers picked in the garden of the winery.
Course after course of the best food and wine pairings.
We were thoroughly spoilt, enjoying scallops, tiny prawns with Thai flavours, Zarzuela de Mariscos-a fish stew with mussels and almond and an unctuous sauce, lamb with an olive and caper crust, and the most divine pudding – an ice cream of Medjool dates with a cloud of coconut cream on top, and served with a warm, freshly baked lemony madeleine.
It was a long, lazy day-we finished after 5pm, and came home replete , and feeling a lot more knowledgeable about wine! It`s a unique place. We loved it all. You must go!
And we came home with this bottle of delicious sweet Muscat, `Ariyanas Naturalmente Dulce`. Perfect served as an aperitif or pudding wine, with fruity desserts. Fresh and mineral.