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BODEGA HERETAT DE CESILIA – MUSIC TO MY EARS!

16 diciembre, 2020

Colin Harkness / Twitter: @colinonwine / Instagram: colinharkness53 / Traducción: Sergio Ramírez

Versión en español disponible aquí!

Their website (www.casasicilia1707.es) gives an insight into the longevity of Bodega Heretat de Cesilia. Originally given by King Jaume 1 to the Marquis de Romana for services to the Crown in 1707, the ‘heretat’ consisted of four different sites of agricultural land, the principle one of was situated just out of the ‘pueblo’ of Novelda, where the Marquis had his ‘finca’ built.

A tour around the site these days sees a charming blend of antiquity and modernity – which in itself is indicative of the wines produced by the DOP Alicante winery, acquired in 1984 by the Arias family, originally from Galicia. Modern techniques adding to a rich tradition of wine making contribute to an impressive portfolio.

Heretat de Cesilia amounts to some 85 hectares, 70 of which are cultivated, growing olives, almonds and table grapes, leaving just 30 hectares of vineyards. These vineyards grow, for red wine, Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Merlot and Garnacha; and for white wine, Moscatel, Malvasia, Macabeo and Albariño. This latter variety, quite foreign to this part of Spain, is testimony to the origins of the current owners, Albariño being the queen, almost holy, grape of North West Spain!

Although very much wine orientated, of course, Bodega Heretat de Cesilia, also majors in gourmet dining, event planning and hosting as well as wine tourism. Indeed, this writer has taken several groups to visit in the past where we’ve always been very well received, with first class wining and dining too!

After a tour of the building, including the markedly contrasting original finca kitchen and dining room, as well as the modern, luxurious restaurant and event hall, plus a visit to the gardens and of course, the nearest vineyards, we repaired to the dining area. Here we enjoyed a splendid tasting, which included the 2007 vintage (not for sale, unfortunately!) of Ad Gaude, the Heretat Cesilia flagship wine, followed by a sumptuous lunch whose ‘plato principal’ was a unique ‘caldoso’ rice dish, Arroz Ad Gaude – guess why!

In honour of the owners, I’d like to start talking about the 100% Viognier wine which so impressed me. Ad Gaude 2019 Vino d’Autor is made from vines planted 20 years ago, mature enough, but with time on their side too. I’d love to taste this wine again – made from the 2039 vintage, I just hope I last that long (slim chance!).

Like me, readers are probably wondering how such a vine, whose natural home is North West Spain (referred to by the late wine guru, John Radford, as Green Spain, on account of the far higher rainfall than the rest of Spain) would fare in the almost dessert-like conditions of Alicante. Well, I can tell you – rather well, albeit manifesting itself in a singularly different style of wine.

In fact, this has been aided and abetted by the nearby Rio Vinalopó which does provide the area with sufficient water and humidity, as well as the fact that there is a Mediterranean influence working on the vineyards donating a certain salinity to the finished product as is the case, of course, in for example, DO Rías Baixas, some of whose vineyards actually run down just short of the Atlantic Ocean!

Priced at only 11€ in the bodega shop – conveniently placed right next to the restaurant and almost always frequented by those who have dined and would like to buy more of the wine that had accompanied their meal – the wine is excellent value for money. An impressive Burgundy style bottle contains an equally impressive wine.

There’s less acidity in this Albariño than those from ‘up North’, yet there is still, of course, a lovely freshness about this dry white wine. White peaches on the nose and the palate (where it’s quite full, following 6 months in French oak) with a little saltiness on the finish and, then, just when you think you’ve swallowed it and it’s gone, there’s a fine flash of citrus, fruit – perhaps a mix of grapefruit and lime! I bought some to take home – and see how it is after a year or so!

In fact this was the second white we tried. Our tasting began with Cesilia Blanc 2019, a triumvirate comprised of Moscatel, Macabeo and Malvasia. All freshness and fruit with a little, understated creaminess resulting from time resting on its lees in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. This wine works very well – there’s good fruit, though it’s not a ‘fruit bomb’ as there is the necessary piercing acidity that ensures that this wine is refreshingly dry. 7€ ‘mas o menos’.

Whilst visiting Casa Cesilia, I was delighted to learn that their, not exactly, ‘prodigal son’ winemaker (who in fact left with the family’s blessing), Sebastian Boudon, has returned, well ‘sort of’! Sebastian now lives in his native France (yes, home originally of most of the barrels at Heretat Cesilia!) to take over his retiring father’s winery in Bordeaux, but still returns to Novelda. Here he acts in a consultancy capacity working to continue the fine wine tradition he started when first appointed several years ago, before, quite briefly but very successfully (I tasted those wines as well!) working with a winery in DO Bullas.

Sebastien is also working on a new Casa Cesilia project – upping the ante of their rosado wine range. The 2019 Cesilia Rosé (yes, French influence again!) is made with Monastrell, Merlot and Syrah. Delivering good fruit expression, strawberry for me, with a little red currant acidity. Correct, precise, fresh and a little perfumed. Nice rosado, sorry Sebastien – rosé!

The rosé, La Reserve 2019 is made with the indigenous Garnacha variety only – and rightly proud of it! Still young, this wine has been made from grapes fermented in a mixture of stainless steel and oak barrels, with a 7 months period resting on its lees in temperature controlled steel once again. Whilst drinking very well right now, this wine is going to mature in bottle and is one I’d like to taste in a couple of years – blowing the theory of always drinking rosado young, clean out of the water!

Three reds followed, before the showpiece wine of the tasting, alluded to above, though space forbids me from describing them fully. Firstly, the Cesilia Roble with 6 months in oak is made with Monastrell, Syrah and the increasingly prevalent in Spain, Petit Verdot. Black cherry skin and flesh on the nose, a little vanilla too and some Petit Verdot earthiness.

The Cesilia Garnacha 2018 has also had 6 months in oak and benefits from this, allowing the wine to age for a few more years yet. Good black, forest fruit with a faint aroma of toffee mixing with violet petal perfume. Good wine.

The Crianza 2017 red has had 12 months in oak and is a blend of Monastrell and Petit Verdot. It’s a meaty (slight bacon notes in fact!) wine with greater body and weight in the mouth than those before. There’s a very good fruit presence with a touch of liquorice on the finish. Fine wine.

I was privileged to taste the Ad Gaude 2007, lifted from its private family resting place. At 13 years old it had thrown a deposit on the side of the bottle where it has been lying horizontally for all that time. On the nose when first opened there was, initially only, a less than attractive aroma of volatile acidity which dissipated after ten minutes in the glass – and this after being decanted half an hour before tasting.

However, the wine developed as it took on more of the oxygen it had been denied for over a decade, morphing into an elegant, deeply flavoured lasting red wine, which paired so well with the eponymous Arroz Ad Gaude, signature dish of the haute cuisine restaurant – and yes, made with the addition of a little of the fine red wine itself!

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