Located in Parcent, in the Marina Alta area in Alicante, this small, family winery stands out for its efforts to revive the region's traditional wines, particularly sweet muscats. The founder, Felipe Gutiérrez de la Vega, has made good use of his love of music, opera and literature to name his wines after several classical pieces.
From the 2010 vintage, Gutiérrez de la Vega is no longer under the Alicante appellation so only vintages and grape varieties are mentioned on the labels. “We are back to the times when brands were more important than appellations”, says founder Gutiérrez de la Vega.
One of the reasons for abandoning the DO has to do with historic sweet reds in the area. As far as Felipe sees it, the fondillón was the rancio wine which peasants used to keep form their harvests while the “Alicante” revered across European royal courts was an unfortified sweet red made in the Huerta de Alicante area from grapes left to dry on the vine. Accordingly, Gutiérrez de la Vega makes vintage wines under the brand Recóndita Aromonía either in a young, two-year-old aging style (€15 for a 50 cl. bottle) or older —up to 10, 20 or 30 years (€60 for the 10-years-old which is sold in 50 cl. bottles), as well as some limited “sacas” (releases) from his soleras which come in tiny 100 cl. bottles. These wines share the concentration and fruit expression of a vintage Port rather than the drier rancio-style flavours favoured by Fondillon producers in Alicante.
Severe draught over the last few years has pushed annual production down from 70,000 to 50,000 bottles, yet the range is particularly wide. Despite making the dry white Casta Diva Cosecha Dorada (€10.5), Muscat sweet wines are the real speciality of this producer. The range includes the fresh, stainless-steel fermented Casta Diva Furtiva Lágrima (€12), his flagship label Casta Diva Cosecha Miel (around €15) —a vin doux naturel made with overripe grapes and barrel fermentation arrested with alcohol—, and the concentrated La Diva Vendimia Tardía (Late Harvest, €22) also fermented and aged in barrel. From 2011 they also produce Esencia, made with bunches dried indoors; tiny quantities are made of this concentrated wine sold in 100 cl. bottles which Felipe may transform into a solera-aged wine.
Daughter Violeta Gutiérrez de la Vega, who is now in charge of winemaking and has trained in Sauternes (France), acknowledges the blurry nature of sweet wines. She favours the use of alcohol instead of adding SO2 to stop fermentation.
Red wines are made with indigenous grape varieties. They are trying to recover the red Giró which seems to be a native from Baleares and is the basis of single-varietal Rojo y Negro (€14), while Príncipe de Salinas (€14) is a Monastrell single-varietal and Viña Ulises (€14) blends both grapes.