BY EMMA AND JAMIE ZAMMITT
We first visited Bodegas Bentomiz on a cold and cloudy winter’s day back in January 2020. It was a last minute and spontaneous booking, and although we were too late for the full tour, we were so glad to have been able to experience the lunch there. It was so good in fact, we had to return for a second visit earlier this year in May – this time for the full winery tour, wine tasting and their five-course lunch.
Insight into the Bodega
Bodegas Bentomiz is a family-owned winery, run by Andre and Clara, located near Sayalonga, Malaga. It has a rugged landscape, steep vineyards and spectacular views overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the Sierra Tejeda mountains. During our second visit, we had amazing weather and could really appreciate just how beautiful the bodegas’ surroundings are.
Manual picking of grapes on steep slopes – not for the faint hearted!
When the owners bought this property, little did they know at the time that they would be turning it into the winery that it is today. They realised that the plot was an abandoned vineyard and recognised the potential of their land. The special local climate and characteristics of the slate soils favour the cultivation of the vines, specifically of the Moscatel de Alejandria and Rome varieties (many dating back to over 100 years). This, together with their modern wine making techniques, result in the production of fresh and delicate Ariyanas wines (named after an Arabic settlement nearby and also means aromatic in Arabic) under the Denominación de Origen Malaga and Sierras de Malaga.
Tour & Wine Tasting
We started the day off with a tour of the vineyard and the production area, hosted by their wonderful and knowledgeable tour guide, Rose. She took us through the laborious wine making process, which requires the manual picking of the grapes on the steep slopes during peak summer temperatures – not for the faint hearted! We were then taken to their restaurant where we enjoyed a tasting of four of their Ariyanas wines. What we loved about these wines is how unique and different they are to the Spanish wines we are accustomed to – credit to Clara, the enologist for her attention to every detail. She manages to produce delicate and personal wines of exceptional quality with a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity.
Food and More Wine…
After the wine tasting, we were led out to their outdoor terrace for the five-course tasting menu paired with five of their wines (yes, a lot of wine!). Their menu is seasonal and many of the ingredients are hand-picked from their own grounds and other produce is bought from their local market (everything is always so fresh). This meant that the menu this time was very different to our last visit during winter – both just as wonderful. We could really appreciate the thought and detail that went into each dish which were all executed brilliantly by Andre (the head chef and his amazing team) and perfectly paired with each wine. For being such a small winery, they have an impressive selection of wines while maintaining the highest quality which some larger wineries may struggle to achieve. Throughout the day, we tasted their sparkling (Emma’s favourite), white wine, red wines and their award-winning sweet wines (Jamie’s favourites). Unlike many sweet wines which are fortified, theirs go through a temperature ‘shock’ process to stop the fermentation earlier which keeps the wine naturally sweet but also give a certain freshness to the wines.
Where to Sleep Off the Wine
The winery is located in a mountainous area and is a steep and windy drive up from Velez Malaga (around 25 minutes). In order to make the most of the experience, we recommend finding somewhere nearby to stay and get taxis to and from the winery. We would highly recommend staying at the scenic Finca Romé which is located within the same grounds as the winery (a very short walking distance). Finca Romé is a simplistic villa with a modern design which really allows you to take in the beautiful nature that surrounds it (sleeps a maximum of 5 people). Note that availability is very limited and must be booked in advance to secure the date of your intended visit.
Visit their website www.bodegasbentomiz.com for further information and contact details and please feel free to get in touch with us if you have any queries (Instagram: @wondersofwine).