The past weekend saw European Wine Tourism Day and in Utiel-Requena this was marked by a number of events both in the old centre of Requena where visitors could enjoy a glass of wine and a tapa ( not actually a local tradition) in the castle square. On the Sunday visitors to a number of bodegas were able to check on the progress of the 2011 vintage wines.
Due to previous engagements I did not get to the castle square but I certainly have managed to try a number of the new wines and some destined for blending and ageing over the next few months.
I started at Dominio de la Vega where I had to call-in to buy some wine anyway. The bodega seemed to have a good number of visitors and having completed the purchase of some 2010 Bobal I was invited to try the new Bobal….which curiously had a label calling it `Primum Bobal 2011´. By all accounts the harvest of Bobal was a spectacular success with quality up, production down but acidity, fruit and concentration all that might be hoped for.
This particular bobal was still at the end of its malolactic fermentation and not ready for sale but clearly has a huge amount going for it! Deep purple with a violet-blue edge, not quite clear due to the ongoing malolactic activity, but with long legs. On the nose deep, very fruity with lots of boiled sweets, bubble gum. In the mouth youthful, deep, warm and fruity with lots of black fruits and liquorice. Good start!
This is a young wine destined to be released as such. Hopefully by Christmas we will see `Primum Bobal´, the wine being produced by Dani Esposito at the bodega, for the Primum Bobal Association of seven local bodegas dedicated to promoting the variety and improving its production and then in March the bodegas´own young bobal with oak ageing being released. 2011 clearly has more depth and concentration than 2010 and the time can´t fly by fast enough for me!
Second visit of the morning was to Vera de Estenas where Felix Martinez had promised a tasting of cask or deposit samples of the headline grape varieties.
We started here with the Chardonnay, destined for the Viña Lidon 2011. Harvested on the 2nd September and having been committed to barrel on the fourth of November this wine was also undergoing its malolactic fermentation. As a result it was still turbio ( or cloudy ) but on the nose the hint of ripe banana was balanced with fresh acidity in the mouth. To me this is reminiscent of the young 2010 which is widely recognised as the best vintage of this marque. Destined to be a lovely wine, which is very lucky given the unwanted attention of hailstorms and young rabbits both of which caused much damage in the vineyard this year.
Second sample was the Malbec, which at 13.41% was also undergoing its malolactic fermentation in deposit. Also a youthful purple with long legs and slightly cloudy, the nose had lots of red fruit and clove, and grass and herbs. Harvested on the 20th September this wine is the most forward and will finish its `malo´this week, go to deposit to clear and then to barrica before eventual blending as the bodega´s second wine.
Third was the Merlot which is the first red harvested at the Vera de Estenas and destined for the Martinez Bermell marque. At 13.1% ABV this has already had 15 days in barrel and was a medium cherry red with a very closed nose. At present this is light and fruity in the mouth. The short barrel ageing will round it out before its release in the Spring.
Next up was the Tempranillo, at 13.13% ABV with just three days in barrel. A similar colour to the Merlot it has raspberry , red wood fruits and grass on the nose. In the mouth quite dry and this needs some time in barrel before eventual blending.
Finally we tried the Bobal which Felix describes as the best yet, at least at this stage! 14.91% ABV this was just starting its malo and is a very deep cherry colour with the trademark blue edge. Destined for the flagship Casa Don Angel Bobal this wine allowed a little fruit to emerge with lots of aeration, and in the mouth had huge depth, potential and meaty body. Without a doubt 2011 will be a vintage to lay down for some time when it is finally released….in 2014!
This was a really educational tasting for which, many thanks Felix.
We ended up at Finca Ardal for a tasting of wines from Luis Gil Orozco´s excellent range finishing with the Ocho Cuerdas Bobal, one of my favourites and the bodegas Primum Bobal wine. One of my favourites! Luis is President of the rutavino in Utiel-Requena and it is worth recording there were events also at Pago de Tharsys, La Madroñera, Chozas Carrascal, Torroja, Vegalfaro, Hoya de Cadenas, Pasiego, Aranleon, Utielanas, Torre Oria, Vereda Real, Emilio Clemente and Coviñas ( who had a wine and chocolate tasting) as well as several Hotels and restaurants in the region.
When I say we ended up at Finca Ardal it was of course only relevant to the Sunday and if there is any opportunity to extend events it is a given that I will try to do it. So on the Monday ( yesterday) we paid a flying visit to Finca Collado in Salinas ( DO Alicante) to see how the new wines we helped to pick ( or in my case watched being picked!) were progressing.
Guillermo is positively fizzing over this years wines and having tasted the musts I wanted to try the wines at their next stage.
We started with the rosado, a deep cherry red from pure Merlot which, subject to losing maybe a little colour in a light filtration could just as easily be marketed as a `joven tinto´given its deep colour. This was the result of picking and leaving the grapes for twenty-four hours before pressing. On the nose this wine has bags of boiled fruit sweets and in the mouth is fresh, light and fruity. A really easy drinker this should be ready hopefully in time for Xmas!
The moscatel by contrast is currently showing quite dry and fresh with lighter fruit than expected whilst the Chardonnay by contrast, currently undergoing barrel ageing was very fruity, elegant ripe banana and mango but with a lovely fresh acidity balancing the touch of oak. This is destined for the blend which makes up the Finca Collado Blanco which promises to be every bit as good as the 2010 award-winning wine! Hopefully there will be enough Chardonnay to produce a small amount as a monovarietal.
So good progress here as well and an educational weekend overall.
These events help everyone understand the evolution of wine and are very welcome! The one conclusion that flies out is that 2011 has indeed been a very good year for wine making here!