Cuva Vella – The best sweet wine for this Christmas?

Cuva Vella 1980 is a special wine in many ways. Most importantly it is of fantastic quality. Don’t take my word for it – Robert Parker of The Wine Advocate assigned it 93 points. It is a very ripe sweet wine made with 100% Moscatel of Alexandria (more about the ripeness in a minute). I first tasted this incredible wine at a Spanish wine tasting organised by H2Vin wine merchants in London. There I met Marta, of the fifth generation of the Valsangiacomo family that produces a range of D.O.P. Valencia and D.O.P Utiel Requena wines. While I sampled their other wines, Marta told me the story of the ‘Cuva Vella’ – the chestnut barrel containing 40,000 litres of liquor wine consisting of leftover batched of Moscatel from several vintages. The barrel had been sitting in the winery for decades and was only discovered when the winery was being relocated to Chiva. The family tasted its contents and were amazed to find an incredibly luxurious sweet wine. This barrel was kept for a further 16 years, and only in 2013 was the decision made for a limited release of only 2,500 bottles. Since then, every year the liquor is topped up with fresh moscatel and left to sit until the following year’s bottling. Having heard the story, the time had come to taste, and I was not disappointed.
The years in the chestnut barrel had worked wonders to produce a wonderfully smooth, rich, dense wine with powerful aromas of coffee, prune and ripe fig. This was replicated on the palate – rich, dense and sweet without cloying. Flavours of coffee, prune, ripe fig and demerara sugar were rounded off with a hint of licorice. Truly amazing. Thank you Marta. I now have my own bottle and am a very happy chappy. This bottle would be perfect for Christmas if you can find one! Great at the end of the evening, whether accompanying dessert or your favourite creamy blue cheese!

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