Bobal Masterclass in Valencia.


 

DO Utiel-Requena continues with its wine educational programme, this time bringing their `Jornadas´ programme to Valencia City itself, with the attendance of VIvid.

Monday and Tuesday 7/8 March saw two very special events which were held in the Royal Academy of Valencian Culture.

In support of the Territorio Bobal initiative to have Utiel-Requena and its predominant grape variety granted UNESCO world heritage status the DO organized two separate events.

The first was a conference on the Bobal variety, its value in agricultural terms, its quality as a producer of wines, and how it has shaped the life of Utiel-Requena.

The second was a tasting of five wines from the variety, exemplary wines which demonstrated the quality, potential, ageing characteristics and versatility of the variety.

Neither the history nor the quality of the wines are any novelty to VIvid. We have followed closely the UNESCO campaign, attending regular presentations and reporting on them, tasting the wines and even presenting them in tutored tastings ourselves, most recently in a training course in the English language for the DO itself.

What made this pair of events different was that they were presented by Jose Vicente Guillem Ruiz ( Pepe) whose standing in the wine world in the Valencian Community is  unparalleled.

Born in 1945 and qualified as an `Agricultural Engineer´ he is a specialist in the industry, management of companies in the sector, has been Director of the Requena  Estación de Viticultura and Enologia and is an expert with links to both the Valencian Institute of Agricultural Quality and the Agriculture Ministry of the Valencian Government.

He is President of the Proava tasting panel for the Concurso de Vinos Valencia, the Provinces most important wine Competition on which VIvid are jurors.

We attended the specialist tasting precisely because we knew we would learn something more about the wines we regularly use! And so it proved to be.

20160308_193748First of the five wines was an Espumoso, Pago de Tharsys Unico 2008, a wine made by the Traditional Method but not allowed to be called a Cava because the Bobal variety is not permitted by the DO. The vines are well known to us, we helped harvest the 2014 vintage. With more than 20 years of age they are from an ecological vineyard. Gold in colour, brilliant with gold flashes, this wine has 20 months on the lees in bottle before disgorging. Fine persistent bubbles rising in spirals from multiple points in the glass, typical summer fruits of apricot, toasted almonds and white flowers on the nose and repetition in the mouth, this is a quality wine with a long, full finish. Elegant.

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The Parreño Rosado 2015 is a `classic´. Fresh rose in colour with the typical violet edge of the variety on the nose it is all bubble-gum strawberry and pear drop boiled sweets! Fresh, well balanced in the     mouth and with a wonderful acidity and volume, yet fresh and easy to drink. The best vintage we have ever tasted.

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Al Vent Bobal 2014 is also a young wine from Coviñas. Black cherry in colour it shows slightly menthol notes, fresh cherry and blackcurrant fruit as well as the childrens sweets characteristic of the variety. With notes of a short period in barrel it is unctuous, balanced and seductive. A wine to share with friends.

 

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Caprasia Bobal/Merlot 2014 from Vegalfaro is distinct for the varieties having been picked in mid September and the last week of October, vinified separately then blended after  just three months  in second use oak . Cherry red, with lots of red fruits on the nose the acidity of the Bobal is counterbalanced by the sweet plum fruit of the Merlot. Well balanced, fruity and a delight to drink!

 

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Finally the Casa Don Angel  Bobal 2011 from Vera de Estenas with  18 months in French oak . Cherry in colour but with its characteristic purple edge, something which barely diminishes with age it had a distinctly oaky elegant nose, ripe plum, chocolate, liquorice and smoky notes . Powerful but still young on the nose. In the mouth intense with black fruit, cinnamon, vanilla, cedar wood, an elegant wine with a long finish and many years life ahead of it.

This was a masterclass in all senses of the word, a tasting not to be forgotten.

DO Rías Baixas and Albariño triumph in Valencia.


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Last Monday, 8 March, DO Rías Baixas swept into Valencia with a selection of wines, mainly from the Albariño Variety. The white wines , often with three years ageing and various lengths of time in contact with their lees have a strong following in the Valencian Community.
The day gave an opportunity for the DO to publicise their products to the press, sumilleres , distributors and the restaurant trade. It started with a lunch for the specialist press, including VÍ vid, followed by a tutored tasting and an open  session in which 22 bodegas showed a range of 78 wines.
Lunch was held in `Apicius´, one of Valencia´s finest of fine dining experiences where chef Enrique Medina plies his trade with a mixture of fusion and classic combinations all of them with only the freshest, tastiest and seasonal ingredients ( in this case Maresme peas and truffle!)

Lunch was served with two Albariños. The first, Zarate 2015 sightly pale gold, fresh, clean, with citrus fruit on the nose and a clean fresh sparkle in the mouth.It had a well balanced acidity and long mineral finish. The second Fillabao 2014 had more time on the lees, a deeper golden colour, more developed, perfumed and elegant nose and rich elegant and round in the mouth.
Over lunch President of the DO Juan Gil de Araujo spoke of the possibility of growing sales in the Valencian Community, where the wines are already popular. Some 30% of sales are exported and 2015 saw production grow by 5% to 20.3 million litres.
The aperitivos were Kakao del Collaret, and Melón del Pil Pil and were followed by starters of  Croquetas caseras and bocadillo of truffle with jamon.
Ceviche Nikkei de Bonito del mediterraneo and then Tuétano trufado ( marrow bone) followed. The sugar snap peas made their first appearance in the next dish with a poached free range egg and truffle and then a spicy Hurte ( Sea Bream ) de Cullera with curry verde, a green Thai recipe.
A classic game dish of Pichón ( Pigeon) de Lombers con su ravoli y berenjena was the main meat dish. This was served rare, a breast and leg with the liver in a ravioli and smoky aubergine.


A clever palate cleanser of the peas, sweetcorn, and parsley in an ice-cream came before the dessert, Chocolate en texturas.
The food was noted for the  combination of flavours working together, the freshness of each component and the intense depth of flavours that Enrique had married together. Not just `pretty´food but seriously flavourful food too!

The wines perfectly complemented the food and following this working lunch some 50 sumilleres were treated to a tutored tasting in the Las Arenas Hotel. This was followed by an open fair where we tasted wines from several bodegas including Palacio de Fefiñanes ( the President´s bodega, ) Martin Codax, Viña Cartin, Bodegas La Val, Mar de Frades, and Viñas y Adegas Galegas, good representatives of DO Rías Baixas.

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VÍ vid

An intense and educative day for VÍ vid assessing wines with short and long crianzas and time on the lees , and a valuable one.

http://www.restaurante-apicius.com

http://www.doriasbaixas.com

 

 

Craft Ales from Brooklyn (NY) hit Valencia!


 


Craft Ales (US), Real Ales(UK) or Cervezas Artesenales ( Spain), call them what you like, are now very much the fashion wherever you are. Here in Valencia we even have our own annual competition for breweries within the Valencian Community called the `Lupulo d´Oro, ´organised by Chema Ferrer a journalist at `Las Provincias´ newspaper.

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VÍ vid are currently jury members for this competition and from time to time we put the wine glasses down and go to visit a brewery and enjoy a `real ale´ tasting. Why `real ale´? Because the beer undergoes a fermentation in the bottle or deposit and remains in contact with its yeasts which add body and flavour to the finished product.
Last Thursday evening `Tyris on Tap´, the central Valencia outlet for the Riba Roja based brewery `Tyris´gave its space over to the Brooklyn (NY) brewery´s beers. Rob Capitelli, described as a craft ale pioneer and the brewer at this historical brewery, was over from the States with his beers at the Barcelona Beer Festival. He had been invited to Valencia to enjoy some of our Spring culture ( Fallas) and thoughtfully persuaded owner Gonzalo Abia Diaz to let him bring some beers as well!
Good move. We tasted four guest `ales´ during the evening.
The first was a lager, but much darker in colour being a pale amber. Fermented at low temperature for about three weeks with toasted malts it is `dry hopped´after the process allowing the flavours to steep into the ale. With a lot of brioche on the nose it was fresh, full bodied but very pleasant with its bitter hop finish.
Second ale was Brown Ale. A darker amber colour with a good consistent and persistent creamy crown, it had a hoppy floral nose with citrus notes and a well balanced body and bitter finish.
Fruity would be the best way to describe the third ale, `Pumpkin´ which also had a good crown. Its nose was fruity, and it had a long full fruity complex refreshing finish.
All these ales were around 5%ABV
The last, a Porter style was a dark black ale. ` Black Chocolate Porter´was a healthy 10% ABV with a good crown, smoky nose redolent of a light `marmite´. This took me back to the good old days, drinking barley wines such as Hardy´s Ale from the now defunct Eldridge Pope brewery in Dorset ( 11.7%ABV and with a life expectancy of 30 years).
This was deep, creamy with a very full body and lots of flavours. Our favourite ale on the night!
Tyris´s initiative in setting up a central Valencia bar has led to other brewers taking up the theme. Now `guest´craft ales are coming as well, albeit for a short period.

Tourists in the know now flock to the `Tap, ´ many on guided tours to taste the excellent range of beers from Valencia´s pioneering brewery.  Good luck exporting  your beers to the UK!

Tyrisrange

The `Tyris´ Range.

 

`Sabor a Málaga´ visits Valencia!


Last Thursday, 18 February Sabor a málaga visited Valencia and presented four wines from the DO to a selected press audience, including VÍ vid  over lunch at Macel.lum restaurant.

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This initiative took place the day before `Verema Experience´ one of the best annual wine events held in Valencia and at which the Diputación de Málaga were supporting the presentation of the DO´s wines.

Málaga is known for its sweet rich wines from the Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel varieties but in recent times new sub-zones of the DO have been created. One of these is around the district of Ronda and we were to try two wines from this region as well as two of the more traditional styles.

Macel-lum is also a well known restaurant in Valencia, not least for its chef, Alejandro Platero, recently a contestant in Spains `Top Chef´television contest, streets ahead of the `Masterchef´ equivalent. Carlos Caballero Sanguino and he had created an eclectic menu which were about to enjoy.20160218_161922

The first wine Dulce Delicià Numero 12 was a golden almost amber, pure Moscatel with an orange marmalade nose, which did not disappoint in the mouth. This complemented a ceviche de concha fina de la caleta de Vélez.

The second was a white from the Serrania de Ronda district. Lunares, 2014 Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay was a pale yellow wine. The nose took me back to my childhood with its hints of rose hip syrup on a complex nose. But in the mouth came the real surprise. With five months in contact with its lees this is a creamy, smooth wine with depth , complexity and a very long fruity finish. A wonderful wine.

This accompanied a carpaccio of gamba màlagueña and subsequently a gazpachuelo màlagueño con rape curado. Both dishes worked well with the wine.

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The red  was a pure syrah Perezoso, with 14 months in oak. It had bright violet tones raspberry and other red fruit notes and in the mouth rounded tannins, big red fruit berry flavours and a long satisfying finish.

This matched beautifully with the Chivo màlagueño a rich meaty dish which was very tender.20160218_154240

Finally the Malaga Dulce Añejo was a pure deep brown Pedro Ximenez with eight years crianza. Full of dried grapes on the nose it is a typical deep, rich sweet wine and a very good reperesentative of the regions wines. This was superb with a confection of mango, white chocolate and almond.

This was a timely reminder that Màlaga still produces wine worthy of matching with  fine dining  and the new wines from Ronda show real potential for future consideration.

 

 

 

Coopera Sumiller Seleccion 2015, A Huge Step!


Coopinvite

 

In a very interesting and most enjoyable ceremony involving music and poetry six of Valencia´s best Cooperative Bodegas introduced twenty new wines to an invited audience in the `Merchants Palace´ in Calle Caballeros.

The Organisers

The Organisers

The event was organised by the Federation of Valencian Sumillers (FASCv) , whose President Mari Lu Martin had invited VÍ vid  to participate, and the Coop Federation responsible for agricultural and food products whose HQ the palace is. It commenced with an opening welcome from Mari Lu and Vicent Insa of the Coop Federation.

VÍ vid, Ready for the tasting

VÍ vid, Ready for the tasting

 

The sumilleres took their places and a tasting, tutored by the representatives of the individual  bodegas commenced with Pablo Cortés of the Moixent Coop, San Pedro Apostol, and three wines from their Clos de la Vall  range. And what a start it was, beginning with one of VÍ vid´s favourite white wines, the oak aged Pedro Ximenez. This wine from a variety associated with sweet wines from Jerez, is a pale gold colour but it is on the nose and in the mouth that it shines! One of the most complex noses I have come across has citrus fruit, white flowers, citrus and tropical notes followed in the secondary notes after swirling the glass by honey, figs acacia, dried fruit, nuts vanilla and orange blossom ( orange). It does not disappoint in the mouth either with its ripe fruits, complexity of flavours and a round very long finish.

Mari Lu Martin and Vicent Insa introduce Pablo Cortes

Mari Lu Martin and Vicent Insa introduce Pablo Cortes

 

This was followed by the Clos de la  Vall Tinto Negre a blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Monastrell. Deep cherry red with good glycerinous legs, the nose is full of blackcurrant, cherry and güindas, ( a type of cherry preserved in alcohol) and marmalade. 6 months in barrica gives this wine good  fruit, easy tannins, hints of güindas ( from the Monastrell) and it is a perfectly balanced , rounded wine with a long finish.

 

Finally from this bodega came the Clos de la  Vall Vino Autor from the local Mandó variety. 10% of the wine is Monastrell and it is a deeper black cherry colour than the previous wine. Smoother on the nose and lighter this has hints of morello cherry on the nose. It is a variety which needs care during the growing season and is generally better with ageing in French oak, and this wine repays that care with its slightly rustic finish, a distinct very pleasant wine.

Maria Angeles, La Viña

Maria Angeles, La Viña

Next came Maria Angeles from La Viña whose wines we are very familiar with and very happy to use in tastings. We started with the single variety Juan de Juanes Petit Verdot which has had eight months in second use oak. This gives the wine a softness and less harsh effects from the wood, notable on the nose which has fresh red fruit and blue flowers ( violet), a meaty mouthful, well-integrated and balanced wine.

Petit Verdot, La Viña

Petit Verdot, La Viña

The Icono Special Selection 2013 is a blend of Tempranillo, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha Tintorera and Monastrell with ageing in French and American Oak. Another deep black cherry wine with mature  fruits, floral notes on the nose and in the mouth mature black and red fruit against a background soft tannins. Another wine with a long finish.

Finally we tasted the Venta del Puerto 12, one of the bodegas flagship wines with Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah  and  Merlot, blended and then aged in oak. The wine is cardinal red, with a fruity but very pleasant oaky nose dominated by blackberry and blackcurrant fruit in the mouth. Very well-balanced and a very competitive price for the quality.

Joan Pico. Baronia de Turis

Joan Pico. Baronia de Turis

Joan Picó, Technical director from Baronia deTuris was the next to present the new wines from this Bodega. We had been invited to the press launch for these wines last week, aimed at the restaurant trade and a departure for the bodega better known for supermarket wines.

We were impressed by the new Son dos Dias 2015 a fresh dry Moscatel, pale yellow, with a fresh aromatic nose of apricot , lychee and mango and in the mouth light, fresh, expressive which opens out leaving a fuller long apricot fruit finish.

Notetakihg

Note taking.

Henri Marc is the name of their new brand for monovarietal reds from vines planted around 15 years ago. The bodega is famed for its traditional wines but they too are stepping out of this mold to experiment with quality wines. The first of two was a Syrah. This is a variety which generally grows at about 650m and more above sea level and needs the temperature changes between night and day to function at its best. These vines are planted in the Valencian hinterland at about 350m where the difference in temperatures is far less marked. However, the bodega has achieved a wonder with this wine. Very good red fruit, forest fruits and a touch of minerality in the nose, in the mouth an explosion of fruit with smooth tannins and a long fruity finish.

Second wine from the range is the Merlot, a touch more classic than the Syrah. A very short period in French oak has given this wine a roundness, damson, plum, deep fruit but  not too mature. In the mouth the variety grown here can give a bitter finish. This wine avoids that with a nice oaky finish.

Eva from Bocopa.

Eva from Bocopa.

From Bocopa, the DO Alicante bodega producing 70% of the province production came five wines. First was the classic Marina Alta dry Moscatel, consistent every year, and a very popular wine to accompany seafood dishes.

The second wine was the Marina Alta Espumoso, a 7%ABV sparkler made in the traditional way and with natural fermentation. I love this wine, it is fresh, very approachable has a very distinct nose that is initially like fresh asphalt , then herbs, fennel and in the mouth has lovely fruit, lively bubbles….. and is as refreshing as a chilled beer. Love it!

Third wine was a Chardonnay, pale gold in colour from a run of just 11,000 bottles and a departure from the bodegas normal style. Marked in the nose by its brioche, bread, patisserie overlaying tropical fruit in the mouth it displays nice Chardonnay characteristics in the French Challonaise style. A worthy new addition to their range.

Sumilleres at Work

Sumilleres at Work

The Laudum Crianza is Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, garnet in colour and with mature fruit on the nose. In the mouth it has body and with good fruit and Vanilla and a long finish.

The Laudum Roble with its distinct columnar bottle  is a blend of Monastrell and Syrah aged in three different types of oak, French , American and Hungarian. Deep garnet in colour and violet at the edge it is pure jam on the nose, figs, dates and vanilla. On entry you note the oak but it is a very fresh, easy to drink with a deep creamy finish.

We are looking forward to getting to know these wines better at the Bodegas Valencia launch on tomorrow.

El Villar.

El Villar.

El Villar, the Cooperative from Villar de Arzobispo showed three wines from the basic Laderas range, popular in bars and restaurants across Valencia. The white is Merseguera with 30% Macabeo in the blend and has a fresh floral nose. in the mouth it is typically dry, with fresh fruit flavours and a long dry mineral finish.

The rosado is a blend, also. In this case Tempranillo with Bobal it is traditionally bright strawberry in colour, fresh strawberry and raspberry nose and typical fruity, bubblegum flavours, A light very easy drinking wine.

Finally the Tinto from Tempranillo was garnet in colour, forest fruit flavours and bramble fruit. Good fruit in the mouth, very round and quite full. Easy drinker.

Diego Morcillo, Coviñas.

Diego Morcillo, Coviñas.

Last but by no means least Diego Morcillo, technical Director of Coviñas showed three wines from  this Requena based Bodega who have been making great strides recently with innovative wines.

The Marques de Plata Brut Nature Cava is yellow with green flashes, small well-integrated bubbles and again has plenty of patisserie and brioche on the nose with white flowers and hints of fennel from the Macabeo. A really good attack in the mouth, smooth, with good volume, and a finish full of mature melon fruit.

The Al Vent Rosado 2014 is one of three wines in this range we regularly show in tastings. It has three months oak ageing which means, when it reaches it second year it has some body to keep it going. Many prefer their Bobal rosados fresh and fruity but this wine has class to go with it! Old rose in colour, it still has lots of fresh fruit but the oak gives it an elegance in the mouth.

Diego presents the cava

Diego presents the cava.

Adnos, the new Bobal Alta Expresion was introduced a year ago and we have followed its progress. It is a wine which amply shows the characteristics of the variety, Deep colour, cherry fruit, liquorice, chocolate both on the nose and in the mouth we love its depth . A fitting finish to a quality tasting.

This of course was only the first part of the evening. The sumilleres withdrew before the competition began. In the second part they were to be presented with one of the wines and using their notes had to identify the wine and write a professional tasting note.

For the record the wine was the Petit Verdot from La Viña and the competition was won by Javier Cantos, Sumiller at our favourite restaurant in Cullera, El Rincon de Faro, enhorabuena Javi!

The rest of the evening was taken up discussing with the bodega´s their new philosophies and aims for the future.

In the Presentatin.

In the Presentation.

If this was a blog about cooperative wines from France it would be very different. The reality is that there is a real purpose behind the philosophy currently in vogue here in Valencia. Firstly all the bodegas are moving more towards bottling wine rather than selling it in bulk although that will always be a source of income for them. Now the mood is to provide quality wines which show varietal characteristics and both satisfy the new market and the demands of a new range of younger wine drinkers.

Many of the new wines are single variety rather than blends but even the latter have their markets as well.

The tasting was interesting because it brought the cooperatives together with the sumillers who recommend their wines in restaurants etc FACSv are to be congratulated for this initiative and for us it was a rare opportunity to look at and compare what  forms the backbone of representative wines in the hostelry trade which tourists and other visitors are most likely to see and drink on a visit to Valencia.

Overall we would give these Coops a big thumbs up!

I’m sure VÍ vid will be enjoying closer relationships with these bodegas and playing our part in showing more of their wines in our forthcoming tastings.

 

 

 

 

Valencia Holds its 3rd Cava Fair, this Weekend !


 

CavaFair2015

This evening sees the start of a three-day fair celebrating Valencia´s cavas. Many associate the production of Cava in Spain with Catalonia but Requena, 80 Km to the West of Valencia provides around 5% of the National production. DO Cava is unique in Spain in being a National DO with defined geographical areas making Cava.

Ten Bodegas will show their wines.  UVÉ, Pago de Tharsys, Dominio de la Vega, Vegalfaro, Coviñas, Chozas Carrascal, Torre Oria and Hispano Suizas are part of the association of Cava Producers and they have invited Murviedro and Vegamar to participate.

The fair will be held in Colon Market, an iconic building in the centre of Valencia, not unlike London´s Covent Garden in concept.

The fair opens at 19,30 until 22.30 this evening, continues tomorrow Saturday from 12.00pm until 15.00pm and later from 19.00 until 22.30pm and again on Sunday from between 12.00-15.00pm.

José Hidalgo.

José Hidalgo.

Opening the press launch attended by VÍ vid, José Hidalgo , President of the Association invited Valencia to come and try some of the best cavas produced in Spain…not an idle boast but a fact backed up by a seemingly endless line of awards at International wine-fairs  and independent evaluations such as Penin, Parker and various Sumilleres associations!

Members of the public attending will be able to find the best Valencian gastronomy available to accompany the wines which cost 10€ for four tastings. Several outlets in the market will provide catering  for the public and there are three very good restaurants at least for those wanting a more substantial meal.

feriacava3

The fair also gives participants the opportunity to stock up with local products, cava included,  for the forthcoming Xmas festivities. Between them the 10 bodegas will show a wide range of excellent cavas including   those  from the new range of Reservas from Dominio la Vega and  Hispano+Suizas cavas which regularly come top amongst  Spanish Cavas.

Cuchita Lluch.

Cuchita Lluch.

As a final touch Cuchita Lluch, outgoing President of the Academy of Valencian Gastronomy was awarded the title of `Ambassador of Cavas from Requena´by the Association  in recognition of her unswerving support for everything good about Valencia and its gastronomy.

 

Bodegas Vegamar Launch their 2015 Wines.


Vegamar Monovarietal Range.

Vegamar Monovarietal Range.

Yesterday lunchtime VÍ vid was invited by  Bodegas Vegamar, based in Calles in the Alto Turia district of DO Valencia, to the launch of the new wines from the 2015 vintage together with a new addition to their monovarietal range.

Technical Director Pablo Ossorio and winemaker Maripaz Quilez introduced the new Rosado made from Merlot as well as talking about developments at the bodega to the specialist press, including VÍ vid.

Pablo, whose second year this is as head of the bodega,  spoke of the progress which has been made highlighting the success in selling the majority of the 2014 vintage as well as the improvements which have been made to the wines from 2015.

Technical Director, Pablo Ossorio.

Technical Director, Pablo Ossorio.

2015 has seen a doubling of the production of grapes, not by increasing yield per hectare but by a combination of better weather and the fact that some newer plantings were now producing grapes for wine production.

The bodega´s introduction of monovarietals and their championing of the regional varieties Merseguera ( white wines ),  Garnacha Tintorera ( red wines )  and Moscatel  ( sweet wines) last year was partly experimental and lessons have been learnt. In particular this year they have tried specific yeasts for fermentation which can enhance the  aromas in the wine.

This technique has worked exceptionally well with the Merseguera which can at times have almost no bouquet ( or nose). With hints of almond and apricot kernels 2015 it is incredibly expressive on the nose with lots of floral and herbal notes, fresh and attractive. In the mouth it was an unctuous wine with good body and a lovely acidity, well-balanced and shows just what can be achieved with the variety.

The Vegamar Team.

The Vegamar Team.

The Sauvignon Blanc also had a very aromatic mediterranean nose for the variety, with tropical fruits as well as floral notes in abundance . In the mouth this was full and round, a big wine.

The third wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc with Moscatel. We have noted a number of white wines from the 2014 vintage made in this style, taking a classic dry variety and blending it with  aromatic notes. These wines are generally big and fruity on the nose but remain dry in the mouth, the art of the exercise being to get the percentage of the second variety correct so that it does not dominate the palate. Moscatel is a classic variety to acheive this but other bodegas use Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay to acheive a similar result. This wine fits the criteria with the freshness of the Sauvignon Blanc (68% ) on the nose and the aromatics of the Moscatel (32%) giving a very pleasant and complex bouquet. In the mouth the acidity was perfect and the wine is rich with a long full finish.

Merlot Rosado

Merlot Rosado

The new wine is a Rosado from the Merlot variety. This is a pale rose colour, very similar to the fashionable French rosés, though not onion skin in colour! On the nose the fruit coming from such a pale wine was remarkable. In the mouth the fruit and acidity combined perfectly to give quite a big , dry rosado that will match well with many dishes but would be very pleasant on its own. A perfect wine for the English market.

Vegamarteambottles

The first of the reds is also a pure Merlot and it was here the fruity aromas of the variety are immediately obvious. Plums, herbs and a touch of minerality on the nose were replicated perfectly in the mouth. It is a young wine, intended for drinking now and is certainly very characteristic of the variety.

The second red was a Garnacha Tintorera, a variety which also had started to die out as the vineyards of the Alto Turia from Lliria to the West were being grubbed up and replaced by oranges. We loved the colour, the bouquet which is at the same time fruity and spicy and which in the mouth was very well-balanced, the tannins smooth. This can be such a good variety and Vegamar can take credit for producing a wine which should be very popular.

Vivid.

Vivid.

To finish we also tried the bodega´s Moscatel, a variety which can be incredibly aromatic on the nose with apricot and peach fruit, but in the mouth can be fat and almost oily. This wine has preserved the aromatics but with a lighter touch in the mouth and more residual sugar which makes it more easily drinkable.

Vegamar can be rightly pleased with the 2015 vintage which has produced a selection of wines which as well as being immensely drinkable are a good price for the quality starting at 6€ a bottle.

´The best noses know us and recognise us.¨

 

 

 

Bodega Mas de Rander Revisited – The Innovation Continues.


Mas de Rander

Mas de Rander

It is hard to believe that I have not been back to this eco-sustainable bodega since my initial visit in April 2012, just five months after the bodega opened. ( http://wp.me/p16pqB-p4 ).

Owner Juan Domingo Tárrega had kindly agreed to our request for a visit when we had met him in Peñiscola the week before.

The bodega´s project continues apace and little had changed visibly either inside or outside. Juando explained that the two main wines, `Syrah´ and `Temps´ were well established in the market, still very much the local restaurant trade.The bodega has been gaining recognition, not least winning a silver award for the Syrah in a prestigious International competition for the variety, just one of eight from Spain and in which France, Chile  and Australia had predominated.

Silver award for the Syrah.

Silver award for the Syrah.

Juando told us  about developments and plans for the future before going on a visit to the bodega below us. He explained that he had  plans  to possibly  introduce a new white wine.

White wine lable.

White wine lable.

The on-line shop offers a white from Macabeo, Viognier and Moscatel, three of the white varieties that they grow, but he is much more interested in a new variety, Picapulla. This is the same variety grown down the French Mediterranean coast and known as Picpoul de Pinet. There is good reason for him to consider this variety.

In the Vineyard.

In the Vineyard.

Firstly it is a variety, sold from Sete in the Llanguedoc  to the Spanish border, the vineyards close to the sea and which sells out annually,  bought by those in the know to accompany the local oysters and mussels etc grown in the lagoons such as Bouzigues. Mas de Rander may be physically on top of the mountain range which runs down the coast near Torreblanca but it is the closest bodega to the sea in Spain, its vineyards enjoying sea breezes which help keep the vines healthy and the grapes free from stress as temperature changes are less marked.

Further, some of the varieties planted most recently are now ready to produce wine.

mdr deposit

Two reds fall into this category, first is Garnacha Tintorera and Juando is interested in making a monovarietal from it which would be the first to be produced in the Valencian Community and sold with 12 months bottle ageing without having been in cask. Normally it would be blended with other varieties.

Second is Monastrell which should be ready to give its first wine in 2016. He is also interested in producing his own monovarietal,  from this autoctonal variety.

We set off on a tour before tasting from deposit, some of the varietals that Juando has ready for his future wines.

Juando selects from deposit.

Juando selects from deposit.

Some changes were noted and the bodega was awaiting a final clean before the harvest starts the next week.

In the deposit room, there were more of the stainless steel tanks he prefers. He explained he does not use the double skinned type. He prefers to use `plaques´ to control the temperature of the fermentation. This is confined to contact with the core of the wine to avoid heat loss through the walls and is better than cooling random parts of the tanks with the traditional `serpentines´. Moreover, temperature can be controlled more rapidly this way.

In the barrel park.

In the barrel park.

In the barrel room there were more barricas than on my last visit, French, American and Hungarian but his Russian barrels have now been firmly rejected.

Following a trip around the bottling line etc we returned to the deposit room and found some wine-glasses for the next stage of the visit.

The first wine we tried was the Merlot 2014. This is giving Juando a bit of a dilemma. Should he use it as normal in a blend with Cabernet Sauvignon ( Temps) for example or release it as a monovarietal?

mdr riki tasting 2

The wine is a vibrant plum red in colour, medium bodied, clean, with very long slow legs. ( This is a vineyard which cannot produce a red wine with less than 14% ABV and usually they are nearer to 15%!)

On the nose the plum and damson fruit are rich and ripe.

In the mouth the wine is immediately rich, ripe, meaty, full of flavours of red and black plums and it has a very long finish.

mdr vivid book

It is a little lighter in depth of colour than maybe I had expected but it has a very solid structure. One half of VÍ vid thought it might be best in a blend to which that structure would be added and that it might lose some of the  fruit which makes it so currently attractive in the bottling process and not last with time in bottle. On the other hand the other half felt it was worth trying as a monovarietal because the wine is so attractive now as it is. No wonder Juando has a dilemma!

The second wine was the Syrah 2014, destined to be the next vintage of the wine which is sold as a monovarietal. Annual production of this wine is about 20,000 and this will be bottled in October. A short period to handle bottle-sickness and it will be on the market in the new year.

Garnacha ( left ) and syrah.

Garnacha ( left ) and Syrah.

Medium bodied wine, a little deeper cherry in colour, again with long slow legs. On the nose this is what the Spanish call a `bomba de frutas!´ It is full of raspberry fruit. In the mouth it is fresh, fruity and a big mouthful. It is no wonder this is a popular wine.

Third wine was the new Garnacha Tintorera, 15% ABV, with 10 months in deposit. . Very deep black cherry in colour, dense, opaque. Youthful long legs, coloured the sides of the glass.

On the nose blackcurrant, Cassis, mature black fruits. In the mouth initially a little astringent it had a creamy side to it as well. Full bodied, meaty, fruity, with depth, this too could end up as a monovarietal, with around 1500 bottles only it will be a flagship wine.

mdrjuando

Finally with 10 months in oak, then 6 months further in deposit to stabilize the wine we tasted the base of the 2012 `Temps´.

A pure Cabernet Sauvignon this was garnet in colour with long legs.  Very reminiscent of the variety with lots of characteristic notes, slightly vegetal, fruity, with menthol and herbs in the background.

In the mouth, it is strong, very rich and round, full of mature fruit, long , full complex finish and a little salty. Elegant, but it faces blending later with Syrah and or Merlot.

VÍ vid in the barrel park.

VÍ vid in the barrel park.

Once again we had spent a very useful morning learning more about the wines from Castellon and the development of wines and their evolution. On reflection we both noted that wines from this bodega have much more notable fruit in their make-up than those from inland near Les Useres and Benlloch itself. We could not help wondering if this was at least in part due to the location of the vineyards closer to the sea. Certainly their counterparts from just 15-40km away have more `terroir´than Juandos wines.

The future wines from Mas de Rander certainly have potential!

 

Roll of Honour, the Syrah awards.

Roll of Honour, the Syrah awards.

 

 

 

 

 

Eating in El Saler (Valencia) ? VÍ vid Recommends Arroceria Estibador.


 

EstibadorLogo

South of Valencia, across the new river bed, ( built to avoid floods like those which caused death and destruction in the City in 1957) , is the Huerta Sud and the Albufera Natural Park. This very rural area is highly agricultural in its nature, here start the rice fields.

Most tourists exploring the area head straight for El Palmar famed for its restaurants.

However fewer know that the family friendly beaches at Pinedo and El Saler are also a good bet, or that there are several restaurants on the road running just behind the beach which separates it from the fields beyond. This stretch of beach and the two towns are just 10 minutes by car from the City of Arts and Sciences and a bus service also runs down this road.

Finding ourselves in El Saler this week we went to  L´Estibador, one of the restaurants which fronts right onto the beach.

From outside the temptation is to think it is another of the `chiringuitos´ for which Valencia´s beach front is famous. Any such thoughts disappear as you walk through the door into a very well-appointed reception area with views into the restaurant itself.

VÍ vid in the Chill-out bar

VÍ vid in the Chill-out bar

Inside a bright airy restaurant opens up, with well-appointed tables. We were shown first to a chill out area and offered aperitifs whilst we sat in comfy armchairs enjoying the views out onto the beach, the blue-green sea glistening and sparkling in the summer sunshine.

Overhead an ample number of fans kept the air circulating freely and our drinks cool but we were offered refreshers before moving to the table.

We had been greeted by the Restaurant Director and Somellier, Lester López Estrada and it was he who showed us to our table which looked straight out over the beach.

Lester López Estrada, Restaurant Director

Lester López Estrada, Restaurant Director

The restaurant offers both a set-price menu meal ( currently 22€) or an A La Carte menu with an average spend of just under 40€ a head.

Lester chose some dishes from the A la Carte option for us we and started with a take on a Valencian salad, with local Perello tomatos, anchovy, Boqueron and salazones shaved over the top. This was a fresh and appetising dish, top quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar being available to the taste of the individual diner, the sweet tomato contrasting well with the salty salazones and the fish.

Ensalada

Ensalada

With this we drank Menade Verdejo an organic white wine from Rueda which was fresh and clean and complemented the dish perfectly.

There are dishes which have to be tried, either because they contain your favourite ingredients or because they sound too good to be missed.

Carrying on with the `entrantes´, the next dish was  tuna, cooked at low temperature, aubergine colour in the centre but perfectly tender. This is served with a salsa and  emulsion ( pesto, a salsa  of garlic and almonds with pickled  onion and tomate confitada.) The combination of flavours and textures make this dish unforgettable.

Tuna

Tuna

Next we tried a signature dish Octopus from the Brassa . The Brassa is neither a barbecue nor a grill. It is a wood based fire over which food is cooked giving quite distinct flavours to the food , different to  charcoal. It is a very important part of Valencian gastronomy. The Octopus was accompanied by  papas arrugadas, an emulsion of piquillo peppers, served with a garnish of crumbs of aubergine and black garlic. Again, the octopus was perfectly tender matching well with the textures and flavours.

Octopus

Octopus

With this we drank an Albariño, Pazo  Barrantes, voluptuous, citrus, floral with pears. Elegant with a long finish.

Our fourth entrante was foie,  on a panettone base with a confit. This was sweet, concentrated and a perfect way to prepare for the main course to come.

Foie mi-cuit

Foie .

The wine chosen to accompany this was from Lanzarote, a white blend of Malvasia and Moscatel from Bermejo. It is some time since I have tasted white wine from Lanzarote, a former favourite holiday destination. This wine was aromatic and fresh on the nose. In the mouth it was complex and spicy, but not so full or rich that it competed with the foie. Excellent choice and probably the best of the three whites!

Paella

Paella

Our main course was an arroz, rodaballo and gambas. In season it is served with ajos tiernos ( green garlic) .

The key to all seafood rices is getting the stock right first in which the rice is cooked. In this case a bigger paella pan is used with a thinner depth of rice. The stock is built up in stages by adding the ingredients and concentrating the natural flavours. It is however more difficult to obtain a good socarrat as the difference in cooking time between this and burning the rice is minimal! This dish was superb, it was a combination of flavours to die for and the first time I had had turbot cooked this way. A Repetir!

The wines

The wines

As we ate we spoke  to Lester about the wine selection. All the wines we had tasted were from outside Valencia but the wine list contained a good selection of Valencian wines. He explained that the restaurant enjoys a mixed clientele and at times when local families are predominating then many local wines are sold. But they also have a lot of visitors from the rest of Spain who know the wines much better from Rioja and Ribero del Duero for example. He aims to satisfy all tastes although he conceded that more Valencian wines could be sold with recommendation.

We were also joined by Nuria Sanz who owns and runs the restaurant with her mother and family. She explained that they had tried many of the local rices that make up the base for their dishes but had decided the local Bomba variety was the best, being consistent and of a high quality.

With Nuria Sanz

With Nuria Sanz

For Nuria, her clients always come first and her philosophy is that they should be treated as if they were in her home.

We moved on to dessert, an ice cream ravioli with carpaccio of pineapple, very elegant!

Ravioli and carpaccio

Ravioli and carpaccio

This was served with Casta Diva Moscatel Miel, a highly concentrated wine from DO Alicante.

Finally, with the coffee we were introduced to Chef Pascual Leydet who explained his philosophy was to use the traditional  cuisine of the seaside but with modernist touches. We had no doubt that this was being fully achieved.

We can only recommend this restaurant very highly. Attention to detail was perfect. Plates, knives and forks were changed with every dish, the tablecloths and knapkins and glasses were all of high quality.

For the waiting staff nothing was too much to do for the customer.

This was one of the best dining experiences we have had and we will be going back!

 

 

 

 

 

IGP Castelló Show Their Wines in Peñiscola.


Peniscola

 

With a session for professionals from the wine, hotel and restaurant trade and the specialist press on Monday morning and two afternoon sessions, Monday and yesterday  for the public,  IGP Castelló took its wines to Peñiscola.

Indication of Protected Geography is the way in which the EU currently designates new wine areas and despite its long history of wine-making Castellon province is recovering from a 20th century that all bar destroyed the vineyards.

IGP is often seen as a route to obtaining full Denominación de Origen ( DO ) status and this is certainly the aim of bodegas which make up the IGP.

Led by Ismael Sanjuán Monzonis ( President) and Guzman Orero ( Secretary) the IGP has quietly been working its way through the complicated procedures with around 12 of the bodegas in the province. There are more bodegas but not all are ready or able to meet the standards required yet.

Guzman Orero, Masia de la Hoya and Secretary to the IGP.

Guzman Orero, Masia de la Hoya and Secretary to the IGP.

The bodegas in question have all submitted wines for analysis and their production methods have been scrutinized with success leaving the powers in Brussels to fix a date for DO Status to be awarded.

All of this enjoyed the support of the outgoing politicians in the agriculture and tourism departments and hopefully their successors from local elections held recently will continue that.

Ricardo´s blog discovered some of the wines of Castellon originally at the annual wine fair held in Valencia´s dry river bed 5 years ago ( organised by Proava) . Subsequently VÍ vid has been following the progress of the IGP generally and much more specifically the individual bodegas, making regular visits to several to taste wines from the cask or deposit, pre-bottling and subsequently on release. We hope to spend one day at one of our favourite Castellon bodegas picking this years harvest.

Professionals at the Inauguration.

Professionals at the Inauguration.

The IGP has shown its wines regularly in Castellon city, firstly in the Old Casino and subsequently in a local park where they have combined the wine fair with artisan food products .

This fair in Peñiscola was a deliberate attempt by the IGP, (many of whose bodega´s have small production and thus sell their wines to local restaurants) , to improve knowledge of their healthy and quality products.

The morning session was dedicated to introducing this local hostelry trade to the wines and cheese etc to the North of Castellon. Apart from the hostelry trade, bloggers and the local TV company attended.

TV Mediterraneo at Baron D ´Alba.

TV Mediterraneo at Baron D ´Alba.

VÍ vid´s relationships with the producers are well documented with visits to the towns of  Les Useres, Segorbe, Vivers, Vilafamés, Castellon and to individual bodegas such as Roques Negres, Mayo-Garcia, Flors, Baron D´Alba, Mas de Rander, Masia de la Hoya, Ismael Sanjuan , Besalduch  y Valls amongst others, all of which have their own blog post in the archives.

During  the inauguration of the fair by the mayor of Peñiscola, Andrés Martinez, he exalted the local quality produce and said `it should be considered normal to order them in local restaurants and to recommend them to visiting tourists´.

Sergio Rodríguez, Sumiller

Sergio Rodríguez, Sumiller

The press etc then moved upstairs to the Council chamber where an informal tasting of some of the wines on show had been planned. This was opened by Guzman Orero who invited Sergio Rodríguez , Nariz de Bronce in the 2014 competition, to introduce the session. Sergio is sumiller at Restaurante de Mediterraneo del Grao in Castellon. He too spoke of the natural inclination to recommend local quality wines to accompany food served in Castellon´s restaurants. He also spoke a little about Castellon´s distinguished wine history and in particular how their  wines were originally present in the top hotels throughout Argentina.

Each of the eight bodega´s attending then introduce a wine for tasting.

We started with Guzman Orero´s Syrah from Masía de la Hoya. 13.5% ABV with 12 months in different oak barrels. We rated this very highly, a medium bodied cherry red wine with long glycerinous legs. Elegant cherry fruit nose, soft oak and smooth tannins in the mouth, this is a rich, round ripe wine with a lovely long finish.

Second wine was the 2013 Syrah, Alvaro Gil from Bodegas TorreGil. This is a new bodega to us, a bodega which has arrangements with other bodegas for the elaboration, storage and bottling of their wines. A little lighter in colour, garnet even, it has had 10 months in French oak. On the nose ripe fruit, almost brambly, mature fruit, in the mouth it was a sensation! A very nice fruity , easy drinking red with real class. We hope to meet the owner again next week to learn more about this `bodega´and its wines!

Wines from DiVinos y Viña

Wines from DiVinos y Viña

The next wine was an `Odisea´ from Bodegas De Vinos i Viñas. This Segorbe based bodega has so far eluded a visit from us and when Tofol and Carmina return from the Baleares where they also have vines, we will catch up with them! The wine was Odisea 2014 Bonicaire, Ull de llebre and Cabernet Sauvignon. The first variety is found very rarely, we have encountered it in the Alto Turia and Terres dels Alforins of DO Valencia as well as in Castellon. Well made , often into Rosado it is excellent. The second variety is the local name for Monastrell. This wine was much brighter, younger and deeper in colour. Bramble fruit, tobacco leaf, but ripe fruit. Tannins kicked in after an easy pass and for us this needed a little more time in bottle. Good wine though!

Next we tasted the L ´Alcalaten , Bodegas Les Useres 86 Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon  with 12 months in American oak. This from the bodega which is not a coop but had 86 growers who founded it, hence the name! A younger , fresher fruitier wine, the fruit on the nose almost sweet and concentrated. In the mouth smooth, brambly fruit, Tempranillo at its best.

Wines from Bodegas Les Useres.

Wines from Bodegas Les Useres.

Juan Domingo Tarrega whose bodega this is has had much advice and consultancy from Michel Poudou, the legendary french wine-maker who also used to look after Chozas Carrascal. Mas de Rander, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah from Benlloch , 14.5% ABV is a big wine in every sense. Intense black cherry, opaque and with long slow glycerinous legs. On the nose, fruit, liquorice, and oak. In the mouth very big, round , smooth tannins and a very long finish. Can´t wait to taste the newer vintages from deposit and cask!

Juando Tarrega, Mas de Rander.

Juando Tarrega, Mas de Rander.

The Clotàs Tempranillo (with 15% Cabernet Sauvignon) from Bodegas Vicente Flors is another big wine at 14% +ABV. Vicente is one of our favourite bodegueros. This genial ex-bank manager will spend hours patiently explaining wine-making techniques and given that he did not come to this business till he retired and took over a derelict family building and recovered the vineyards his reputation is awesome!

Bodegas Flors.

Bodegas Flors.

 

Intense, deep, opaque black, very  black cherry colour. On the nose this wine is redolent of very mature fruits of the forest, violet floral notes and spice, cinnamon, clove and vanilla.

In the mouth dry, well-balanced, lots of fruit with chocolate and roasted coffee in a long finish.

On what was a very hot day we were to end with two whites.

The first was the Baron, D´Alba Gewurztraminer/ Viognier 2014. We tasted and commented on this wine just six weeks ago when we visited on one of our tasting tours. The wine was ready to be bottled. All I am going to say is that this white is floral and fruity on the nose, with huge aromatic depth. In the mouth it is huge , full of citrus, white fruit such as apricot, spice, mandarine peelings. The acidity is perfectly balanced…this is heading to be our best white wine of 2015!

Victor Bellmunt Introduces his Brut Espumoso.

Victor Bellmunt Introduces his Brut Espumoso.

Finally Victor Bellmunt showed his Ildum Vinarius Espumoso de Castellon, Bellmunt and Oliver Brut from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Cabanes made in the traditional manner with 15 months in rima. This wine won the silver prize at the recent Proava cava and Espumosos fair.

IGP Bodegueros and their Wines.

IGP Bodegueros and their Wines.

 

 

On the nose this wine has ripe green apple and patisserie. With evolution there is a touch of tropical fruit, pineapple. In the mouth full, rich, appley, creamy and fresh. A very long finish lacking only a little depth in the bubbles.

Following the tasting we visited the artisan cheese company Tot de Poble some of whose products we had recently tasted with white rioja wines.

Also showing were Guadirium, an internet based shop selling jamones and salchichones, several of which we tried.

Cutting Jamon , Guadirium.

Cutting Jamon , Guadirium.

KM0 were selling a range of artisan beers and cheeses from Cati and several of the bodegueros were now trying the craft ales, the heat having finally got to them!

KM0 with Cheeses from Cati

KM0 with Cheeses from Cati

Magistratus were showing a similar range of fruit and vegetable marmalades which are becoming incredibly popular here with cheese plates and local artisan breads.

We hope the public sessions have gone as well. This was a sensible initiative which has attracted a lot of publicity…hopefully it has increased knowledge of the wines and gourmet foods from Castellon not just around Peniscola but more widely!

VÍ vid Tasting in Peñiscola.

VÍ vid Tasting in Peñiscola.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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