On the 10th of June something rare will be happening near the town of Sayalonga. A Steinway grand piano, brought in from Granada, will arrive at Bodegas Bentomiz. It will be set up on a stage on the forecourt between the winery and the vineyards ready for a night of wine, tapas and classical piano music.
This is the launch event for Mountain Wine and Music – a series of classical, flamenco and jazz performances to while the nights away at the bodega this summer. It is especially exciting because classical music performances are relatively few and far between here in the hills. Malaga city has plenty of venues; Nerja caves offers special concerts in August; Granada has a wonderful music festival – but where do you go to hear the classical piano among the pueblos blancos? Now we can answer that question: Bodegas Bentomiz.
This winery, run by Dutch couple Clara Verheij and André Both has been quietly producing prize-winning premium quality wines that are gaining international recognition – Masters of Wine from Britain's Jancis Robinson to Norway's Merete Bø have given them fabulous reviews and ratings. More recently André, in collaboration with chef Juan Quintanilla, has developed stunning dishes, designed around the wines, to serve in the winery's “Wine Salon” with views that take in both the dramatic Sierra Tejada and the Mediterranean Sea. “We have been serving wine-centred lunches, Wednesday to Sunday for a couple of years,” explains Clara, “but we can also do tailor-made special events, such as conferences or birthday parties. And then there's the summer evening concerts. That began when flamenco artist Daniel Casares performed for us last year: they were wonderful events – we had to do more!”
So who is performing on the 10th? The pianist is Thomas Kaurich. A musician of international renown, he has performed all over Europe and North America, from New York and Washington DC to Munich, Paris and Athens. In London he has performed at the Barbican and the Royal Festival Hall and once played in a special concert for HRH Princess of Wales. As International Marketing Director for Warner Music International and EMI Music in London, Thomas worked with a small galaxy of stars, such as Plácido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa, Natalie Dessay and Daniel Barenboim. “We are hoping he will bring a few of them to the bodega,” laughs André, as he and chef Juan Quintanilla work on developing exciting new tapas to serve, alongside the Ariyanas wines. Indeed a glass of wine and a tapa are included in the ticket price (35€): with the bar open from 6 o'clock and the performance at 8 o'clock there will be time to drink and relax before the music starts. By that time the sun will be setting, giving the Sierras and evening glow, and the full moon rising. In fact Thomas will be playing Beethoven's “Moonlight Sonata” – though it was chosen for its aural beauty ahead of the celestial accompaniment! The program will also include well-known and much loved work by Schubert, Debussy, Chopin and more.
This will be the start of a wonderful summer of music. In July Flamenco dancer Marina Aranda will be performing to the passionate sound of the guitar; later in the month La Bejazz, describing themselves confidently as “the best Andalusian Jazz band” will be proving their point!