A visit to Bodegas Cueva

Bodegas Cueva


Country: Spain

D.O. Utiel-Requena

Locality: La Portera (Requena)

Calle Mayor 2

Tel: 963931827

e-mail: Adela@bodegascueva.com





Approached from Bunol, La Portera sits ahead of you across a plain which is dominated by the tanks of the local wine cooperative of La Union Porterensa. The road up  the valley past Hortunas consists of many, many bends, winding through carob and olive groves interspersed with pine woods and a careful driver would allow an hour to cover the relatively short distance between. They might reflect later on the similarly slow  approach to wine making at Bodegas Cueva which sits in the  centre of this small hamlet near Requena, conveniently close to both  the local bar and restaurant.


This small and relatively new enterprise is the dream made reality of Adela Hernandez and oenologist Mariano Taberner. Both have other employment but their dominant passion is to make quality wine on a small scale, to nurture it and allow it to express itself through minimum intervention and maximum attention to natural processes.


The Bodega


The small 18th century bodega is undergoing slow restoration  in a very traditional style and clearly with Adela’s hand and eye for detail in control. In its day, long before the big cooperative took over, the property was an important local centre for wine growers to deliver their grapes. Today it seems positively  tiny but the same attention has been paid to restoring an old press, re-roofing where necessary, installing a modern bottling line, stainless steel tanks, three varieties of oak barrels and much much more.



The Wine Making Process.


Very much Mariano’s province  the wine making process is carried out with huge care. The grapes are from parcels of vines  close-by and next to the Requena road. They are entirely accredited ecologicaly farmed parcels and the bunches are hand picked by a few family friends, brought quickly to the bodega to avoid early expression of juice and unwanted oxidation and pressed straight away. This is  probably the only quick part of the process as thereafter  the wines are left to their own devices with as little intervention as necessary. Initially all the wine goes into stainless steel and local wild and natural yeasts begin the fermentation process. Along the way temperature is monitored and controlled if necessary but the wine will sit in these tanks for a minimum of 8 months allowing a natural deposit to remove  solids etc unwanted in the wine. There is no waste though as these solids go to make home made soap bars. As a result there is no filtering and only a little fining with egg white.


Thereafter a choice is made from the red varieties  between a ‘joven’ style wine which is bottled and  stored in the subterranean bodega to mature peacefully if not silently ( of which more later ) for several more months. The remainder of the crop is split between French, American and Hungarian oak where it sits also below ground for 4 months after which it is returned to the tanks to harmonise for a further 8 months before bottling and eventual release as a crianza style wine.


During this process the wines are moved as little as possible using almost no  energy and chemicals, with sulphites, for example,  being almost limited to the cleaning of pipes etc.


If the wines repose in the in the dark it is not always in total silence. Mariano is interested in the work of the Japanese Masaru Emotu who has studied the molecular response of water to music being played and photographed the spectacular results. Mariano believes that just as man is made up of a large proportion of water and responds positively to music, wine should do also. He is known   to play music to the barrels and bottles underground to help their natural development in a ‘good mood’.


The Wines.


I can only speak from personal experience but I share the view that this long and natural process is a huge success.


Currently the bodega is experimenting with a white wine, 100% Macabeo, which was originally destined for a family cava. The wine, which was shown at the Valencia Wine and Food Fair in April this year is spectacular with massive flavour including hints of apple, round and with huge depth. Adela and Mariano show this wine with great pride on visits ( by previous arrangement ) to the bodega.



The joven superior  and barrica selection are made  with  Tempranillo, Bobal and Garnacha and   are wines of intense colour, multiple fruit aromas and  full on flavours including chocolate and liquorice.They have immense depth and  complexity. Whilst made to accompany food they are perfectly capable of being drunk on their own.


Recognition and the Future.


All this adds up to wines of distinction which despite only making their debut in 2007 are already winning the recognition they deserve.


The tinto Joven was awarded the PROAVA Cata Els Bodeguers prize for Best Wine and the Test tinto Joven award by the Valencia Club de Enofilos in 2007.Following on from the Summum Vinum award from the Enofilos de Utiel Requena  Mariano has subsequently received recognition for his personal progress as winemaker by the Valencia club.


 New winemakers in Valencia who put this sort of effort into producing wines of quality will only help to promote the area in general at a difficult time for the wine trade. International awards should not be far away given sensible promotion outside the Valencian Comunity.


And for the future? With a production currently limited to 20,000 bottles a year the bodega has some space to offer other winemakers who wish to produce quality wine with the opportunity to work with this charming and enterprising partnership.




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  • […] In an attempt to create a full and varied day for Helen & co., we had added a second, very different, winery, Bodegas Cueva. I have been meaning to visit for ages, as it’s a project I admire. A wine enthusiast, Mariano Taberner, and some friends, decided to do up an old bodega and make wine with the imagination, knowledge and equipment they could lay their hands on and develop. All of this with a commitment to organic and natural processes. Mariano even plays music to his wines in the cellar. Apart from the Cueva reds in the market, the winery is always experimenting. So we kicked off our meal with a cloudy vino turbio with a hint of spritz, that was just like drinking cider. If you don’t believe me, read Riki Wigley’s blog […]

  • […] with a hint of spritz, that was just like drinking cider. If you don’t believe me, read Riki Wigley’s blogBut as much as visiting the winery, it was the food and company offered by Adela, Lourdes and co […]

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