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Wines at Evuna

Philip Hamer is surprised by the quality of the wines from one of Spain’s overlooked regions

Published on October 23rd 2008.

Wines at Evuna

Wine experts agree that you should never expect too much from the La Mancha region of Spain. The country’s great fictional creation Don Quixote might have hurtled around there tilting at windmills with his mate Sancha Panza, but in the connoisseur's opinion, he must have drunk plonk to fuel his wanderings.

Jane Dowler, owner of the Deansgate tapas restaurant Evuna, hasn’t created an award-winning specialist wine list by being so easily put off by vinous Iberian scare stories. At a recent tasting she revealed three absolute gems from La Mancha and one true blockbuster that has to be among the finest wines I’ve drunk this year.

Jane loves to revitalise a wine writer’s jaded palate with a revelatory obscure grape variety, and the white grape airen which constitutes the Val de Port 2007 (£15 – all quoted prices are as charged in the restaurant, take away prices are less) certainly does that. Crisp and dry with a citrus bite bordering on slight sweetness, it was very refreshing.

The Portijello producer provides the restaurant with some of its house wines and its Merlot (£16), a grape variety only grown in small quantities in Spain seems to flourish well in La Mancha. It was difficult to believe that this was so young (the 2006 vintage) and had not been kept in oak. A deep ruby colour and unusually rich and full on the palate, it begs to accompany the rich game pâté this area is renowned for.

One of this restaurant’s safest bets is the cabernet sauvignon from the same producer. We tasted the 2003 Crianza (£20) – at least six months in oak – and it has that unique leavening of opulence with austerity that characterises the vastly more expensive wines of the Medoc. This really will complement the finest meat dishes.

The most extravagant praise would be insufficient to laud the Taberner 2005 (£40). From Cadiz, close to La Mancha, this was an extraordinary blend of syrah, merlot and cabernet sauvignon grape varieties that is kept in oak for a year. Reminiscent of those pricey monsters Hermitage and Cote Rotie from the Northern Rhone, it was a wine hedonist’s ultimate joy. It would make perfect drinking during the coming dark evenings but will keep for another 10 years or so.

La Mancha gift packs to take away (£20) are also available.

Evuna Spanish Restaurant and Bar
277-279 Deansgate
M3 4EW
0161 819 2752

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