A bitty couple of weeks into recuperation and it has all being going on…or is about to!
Vino-Valencia is nearing the summer break at the end of the third season. Actually this year has been smoother than some earlier years with generally less problems with restaurants, venues or bodegas cancelling at the last-minute!
A reminder….originally founded by Piet Bos and Dora Birindelli with input from John Maher, Vino-Valencia was set up to provide a platform for bodegas to promote their ( Valencian ) wines, restaurants to marry some tapas with them and participants to enjoy a social networking evening in Valencia. Three years on Piet has gone back to Beijing and Dora still organises the venues and tapas whilst the onerous task of finding bodegas falls on my shoulders.
Is the organisation still valid and firing on all six-cylinders? I think so!
Last Wednesday around 45 supporters filled the Circulo de las Belles Artes, in the narrow streets between the Lonja and Calle Caballeros in the heart of the city. Whilst there were new faces… a feature of many events this season, there were many regulars there as well. From the start there has been an eclectic mix of English ( mainly retired) looking to try Valencian wines with food, Dutch, Italian and Spanish professionals ( mainly younger people experiencing a world of work some of us can only dream we had the opportunity to have tried ) and others looking to network. Today the interaction is no less vibrant than the first time I attended in October 2009!
Nor should it be said is the selection of bodegas faltering. Wednesdays event with Finca Collado ( DO Alicante) presenting the new 2011 Blanco, Mas de Rander from Benlloch in Castellon presenting El Tiemps, and Vicente Flors from Les Useres ( also Castellon ) showing Flor de Clotas 2010 was particularly strong, the selection being accepted with great support from those attending!
It was good to see a number of professionals in the export trade of Spanish produce there as well. Mick Messum of Messum Export who represent Seins from Villena and Pago de Tharsys attended his first event. John Maher whose blog is still very relevant was also there, he of course being the publisher of Joan Martin´s ( doyen of Valencian wine writers ) works.
The summer break may be coming but Bodegas are being lined up for events from September onwards, an opportunity they need to grasp with both hands, as the cost to them of publicity is minimal but very widespread and influential!
Awards season is also in full swing. Bodegas from Valencia, Alicante and Utiel-Requena have been pumping up the Golds, silvers and bronzes won at the recent Bruxelles wine fair and the International wine challenge. Needless to say big bodegas such as Murviedro and Coviñas have done very well again but this year it was good to see smaller independents who probably find the cost of entering their wines a bit more difficult, triumphing! Special mention must therefore go to Pago de Tharsys, Dominio de La Vega and Nodus ( Finca El Renegado ) all from Utiel-Requena and all of whom picked up prestigious awards!
Gandia has also held its Concurso de Fidueàs this week, which sadly I did not make it to. Over the weekend the fair has also enjoyed the first Gandia International wine fair with wines from Lanzarote and Argentina included. Lets hope this initiative is successful and continues next year!
One debate seems to have reared its ugly head again with a piece in one of the National newspapers.
The one DO suits all for Valencian wines argument has been running for some time. I have referred to it twice in previous blogs over the last two years. It started with the DO in Utiel-Requena considering adopting a `Wines from Valencia´ description because no-one had heard of the local region or area. The feeling was that Valencia was a bigger name, better known for its prestigious sporting events, and clambering on this bandwagon might be a better bet. Of course those promoting the idea were not the independent bodegas doing all the promotion of local grape varieties and small quality production, but rather the growers with no interest in making wine, rather selling their crop to the co-ops or other producers. They hoped a generic Valencia title would bring some more cash in against declining income.
Well, rumour has it that almost the last act of the last Valencian Government was to give itself powers to not only combine DO Valencia and DO Utiel-Requena but also absorb the immensely succesful DO Alicante and the rapidly emerging IGP Castellon wines as well! It would be difficult on a normal day to see who would benefit from this, except perhaps the small grower who sells his or her crop to some-one else. I can see benefits for the three or four super companies, Gandia, Murviedro and Cherubino Valsangiacomo and maybe Anecoop. One DO would save on separate labels as they have interests across the three provinces and four DO´s.
Of course that was all before the corruption and financial mismanagement surrounding the Valencian Government hit the news, with all the major banks needing saving by central government, the prestigious sporting events unravelling one by one….no Americas Cup, Formula 1 every other year, etc etc. Valencia currently stands on the brink of becoming a name synonymous with everything bad in Spain! Certainly not the prestigious name the Government wants to capitalise on to sell its wines!
Needless to say the idea has gone down like a lead balloon in Alicante! A fight back has already been launched suggesting the truth is well ahead of the rumour! In Castellon the mood is split, there are those who believe passionately in reviving the fortunes of one of Spain’s foremost former exporting provinces. Others could see the shortcut offered by the catch-all DO.
This debate looks set to rumble now the cat is out of the bag…..lets hope wise heads prevail! But with the Agriculture Ministry employing those with family interests in at least one of the four super-bodegas mentioned above it might be considered reasonable comment that the die is already cast……
In which case with the amount of wine sold from Utiel-Requena direct to Rioja bodegas and blended into their final products we might just as well give up on local wine and go for the catch-all `Wines from Spain´DO!