Someone asked on a previous post on Valencian cava whether the wines mentioned were available in the UK. I had a quick look and drew a blank. This set me thinking. I travel to the UK fairly frequently, and I generally return with a few English wines to give to friends and to keep in reserve to surprise those that still scoff at the notion of wines from Britain. One of the joys of doing this is, of course, that it is not possible – at least as far as I know – to buy English wines in Valencia, or anywhere else much. Even in England, the last time I asked, Oddbins wasn’t offering a single English wine. Apart from the quality of the wine itself, I feel as if I’m handing over something rare and of special interest. I assume there’s no need to go into detail about all the excitement about developments in English wine – if more information is needed, here’s “Raise your glass to the great grapes of Britain” and “Wine lovers of Britain rejoice“. There’s even a brand new vineyard in London at Forty Hall.
Naturally, there is a lot more Spanish wine in the UK than the other way around, but even so, it is often hard to find wines that are outside the mainstream. Such is life, and then the challenge is to track them down. As I wrote in my reply to the comment on Valencian wine, my first port of call is the normally www.wine-searcher.com (free version as yet, rather than the “Pro Version” which I’m saving up for), where you just put in the name of the wine and the country you’re looking for it in, and out comes all sorts of information. For example, Andrew Chapman, the designer of the cover of “Valencia Land of Wine” is someone I’ve worked with a fair bit over the years. For this particular job, he suggested part payment in wine, which I thought showed both discernment and commitment to the project.But how to get Valencian wines to him down in Brighton?
By great good fortune, wine-searcher.com came up with Cooden Cellars a couple of times when I looked for wines mentioned in the book, and they happened to be very close to Brighton, in Eastbourne just down the road, and even to deliver free there. I promptly made an order comprising three bottles of “Les Alcusses” (DO Valencia, from the southerly Clariano subzone, an intense blend of monastrell, syrah, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and tempranillo – GBP7.13 each in early 2008), the second wine of Pablo Calatayud’s Celler del Roure, whose star wine “Maduresa” was instrumental in convincing smart Valencians to drink their own wines. There followed two bottles from Bodega Mustiguillo “Mestizaje” (50% bobal, plus tempranillo, syrah, cabernet sauvignon and merlot, GBP10.50), another apparently overexuberant blend that just happens to work a treat, and which I’ve mentioned before, and at twice the price their sleeker and more sedate “Finca Terrerazo” (70% bobal, 25% tempranillo, 5% cabernenet sauvignon, GBP21.50). Then a couple of bottles of Rozaleme from Utiel-Requena (70% bobal and 30% tempranillo), not bad going for Eastbourne to have a bobal blend, and a good value at GBP6.50 each) and a bottle of Sequiot (cabernet sauvignon, tempranillo from Vinos de la Viña in DO Valencia, a wine I’ve yet to try. Finally, just to show that I’m not entirely limited to Valencian wines I threw in a bottle of Emilio Lustau’s Don Nuno Dry Oloroso (GBP5.95). Funnily enough, Andrew’s reply mentioned that he’d been a fan of “Les Alcusses” from his own local off-licence for ages, without ever realising before that it was from the Valencia region.
Looking through wine-searcher.com across all countries, it’s good to see that there are plenty of wines from the Valencia DOs out there in the USA, Germany, UK and elsewhere. I’m guessing that it will still be a while before I can order English wines from the comfort of my armchair for my friends outside the UK. I’ll keep trying, though.