The “Pago” is a very special Spanish designation awarded to a winery that meets certain very stringent criteria. There are only 21 Pago wineries in Spain. After 10 years of trying to qualify, Vallegarcía was awarded its “Pago” in 2017.

Vallegarcía was founded in 1999 and is located about 60 km south of Toledo. It produces about 250,999 bottles from 50 hectares, which are located about 900 meters above sea level. The focus is definitely on quality rather than quantity, as the winery makes only 1 white and 4 red wines, but each is an outstanding representative of the winemaker’s art.

Alicia Marzoa conducted the tasting, and began with a delightful single varietal 2021 Viognier, aged 6 months in new French oak, and called “the white wine for red wine drinkers”. This was a complex wine that was much appreciated by the 60 AWS members present.

The second wine tasted was a single varietal 2022 Syrah, aged in French oak for 12 months. Interestingly, some of the barrels had previously been used for the Viognier, which enhanced the Syrah’s floral nose.

Nigel Adams (the event organizer), Alicia Marzoa, Fernandi Silva (Vallegarciá’s distributor for Portugal, and Larry Hampton.

The Syrah was followed by a 2021 blend of Garnacha and Cariñena with a bit of Monastrell, aged for 12 months in used French oak. This was a remarkably well balanced and satisfying red wine.

Alicia followed on with a 2022 Petit Hipperia. It is barrel-aged for a year and is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot – a classic “Bordeaux blend” but with Spanish flair. This was a very drinkable and much-appreciated wine.

Derek Lambert, Michael Mellick, Tony and Mary Bondi, David Hart and Sandie Skevington enjoying the post-tasting dinner

The star of the evening, and Vallegarcía’ s top wine, was the last to be presented. It was a 2021 Hipperia. Unusual for Spain, this blend is aged after blending, rather than aging the varietals separately. This produces a very balanced, rich, and powerful wine, with a lovely finish.

After the tasting everyone repaired to the Eva Hotel’s main dining room, overlooking Faro harbour, for a lovely dinner prepared by Chef Alberto. An amuse bouche was followed by a very tasty corvina ceviche with, unusually, a guacamole sauce. The main course was duck on a bed of sweet potatoes. Dessert was a pear soaked in tawny port. The meal was very nicely accompanied by Vallegarcía’ s Viognier, followed by Hipperia.

The Algarve Wine Society’s next event will be a lunch tasting at the Mercearia da Aldeia restaurant near Tavira in late May.