BODEGA BENTOMIZ A REVISIT

I visited Bodega Bentomiz a couple of years back for their wine tasting and tapas tour. In fact I went a few times, once with friends and then, because it was so enjoyable, I took the family a couple of times too. I have to admit, since those visits I had not returned as I felt I had seen it, done it and could enjoy the wines whenever they appeared on the menu locally. However, I was invited by owners Clara and Andre to visit the Bodega again - and what a surprise I got: it has really changed. The bodega is located above Sayalonga, just off the main road and now the short track to it is all concreted and there is a large fenced car park area, with easier access to the Bodega. The whole building is now completed and an example of incredible architecture that fits perfectly into the landscape. A result of Andres' hard work and vision, it is a magnificent Bauhaus-style building that's clad in slate outside and is light and airy within. “Eno-tourism” – wine tourism - is what visitors here have enjoyed for some years. Tours are still available but they no longer end with tapas pairings served to standing guests. Now, in collaboration with chef and restaurant owner Juan Quintanilla, the bodega can offer visitors lunches that have been crafted to match the Ariyanas wines, served in the beautiful setting of the restaurant above the bodega, with a fabulous view of the valley and the Mediterranean Sea. Juan also owns the renowned restaurant in Nerja called Sollun; he has helped Andre launch his restaurant not only by creating fabulous dishes but also by teaching him, and staff member Mari Carmen, to reproduce them perfectly. Juan still comes to the restaurant once a week to chef and coach Andre. The Bodega is open from Wednesday to Sunday and you can do the whole tour, tasting and lunch, starting at 12:30. If, like myself, you have been before then you can just come for the lunch, which is served at 2. You choose between a 3-course menu and a 5-course menu: each dish has been designed to go with the recommended wine. These are normally the fabulous Ariyanas wines from the bodega but occasionally they like to promote wines of other regions, if the pairing works. I spoke to Andre in the kitchen whilst he was preparing lunch and he was keen to let me know that all the ingredients used in the dishes are local and fresh. This means the menu changes with the seasons. On the day I visited he was preparing an aperitif to be served with Fino Inocente from Jerez. I could smell the gorgeous solomillo de ternera salad with lemongrass, ginger and coriander mixed with soy sauce. Andre showed me the cuts of fish called corvina that he was preparing: he had bought 17 kilos of it and had spent all morning preparing the fish! This would be served with a cream of asparagus. There were also Iberian pig cheeks with sweet potatoes and shiitake mushrooms and a dessert he called Axarquia, which was cinnamon ice cream with liquid toffee, bizcocho and lavender foam made with lavender grown in their own herbal garden. This gives you an idea of what fabulous food is served at the Juan Quintanilla restaurant in Bodegas Bentomiz! Lunch is by reservation only and can be booked online at www.bodegasbentomiz.com and here you can decide which menu you would like and specify any special requirements you have dietary wise. they can seat 32 guests and look forawrd to catering weddings and other tailor made parties. If you have been a few years back, trust me, it's now to time to revisit like me!

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