L’Alcúdia Gastronomy Fair.

L ‘Alcúdia holds it’s 15th fair of local gastronomy.
The long holiday weekend of 8-12 October saw the latest gastronomy fair take place in the town of L’Alcúdia, some 35 km south of Valencia down the N340. The town, with nearby Carlet, is the centre of the Kaki ( or Persimmon ) fruit growing area which sadly  this year is suffering from fungal attack. Over the last few years the fair has invited wine growers and artesan food suppliers from across the Valencian Community to exhibit and this year moved to a new site on the edge of town.
These gastronomy fairs are very popular with Valencians and tourists alike. The former because Valencians are immensely proud of their local gastronomic traditions and the latter because they offer an opportunity to try different products be they wine, olive oil, preserved sausages, local cheeses and fruits , beers or a host of other traditionally made items. A visit to www.firagastronomica.com shows just how diverse the exhibitors were.
Entrance was 10€ and this gives visitors a tasting dish, a wine tasting glass and 10 tickets for sampling the items available. In my expereience many of the bodegas are happy to accept a single ticket for the first wine and then allow you sample across their range. This allows for an extensive tasting opportunity!
Food Favourites.
Whilst the principle reason for my visit was the bodegas exhibiting, the food exhibitors should not go unmentioned. This fair has a ´street of cheese´ which allows the visitor to sample different styles of Valencian cheeses as well as different varieties e.g. soft, medium and hard from cows sheep and goats, something it is rarely possible to acheive in one place. This is run by the Valencian Association of cheese ( www.quesosvalencianos.com ). To my mind best of the individual producers was  artesan cheeses from ´Quesos Jamesa´ representing  the town of Llosa de Ranes.
Requena sausage and meat products were available from Embotits Encarna and carniceria Emilia, two of the best known traditional artesan producers and worth going to the Sausage Fair in Requena in  February on their own.
It is also always worth trying the local Housewives Association stall for a taste of local recipes, be it tapas , cakes or bunuelos.
The Bodegas.
This year many though not all the bodegas were from the Alicante province of Valencia and specifically from Ontinyent, Enguera and Fontanars de Alforins. It was these I wanted to check out.
First was the small bodega of Josep Tortosa from Fontanars. These D.O. Valencia wines are from a small scale producer making about 10k bottles of each of his wines each year. The vineyard was planted at the beginning of the millenium and debuted with the 1996 vintage.
This year has seen the introduction of a white wine, 80% Xasan and 20% Macabeo. This was pale lemon in colour ,clean and bright with long legs for a 12% wine. Nice and clean on the nose with hints of citrus and apples. In the mouth after an initial attack the wine fades leaving a long creamy finish.
The Josep Tortosa barrica autor  is 100% monastrell, and weighs in at 13.5%. It spent 3 months in French oak. A medium  cherry in colour, this had long slowly developing legs and was warm and jammy with cherries on a full generous nose. On the palate the wine is full bodied, open, rounded, beautifuly balanced with rich long finish and aftertastes of vanilla and leather.
Finally the Portella with 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Tempranillo  was a deep garnet again with long legs similarly with 3 months in oak. On the nose it was initially floral, then fruity with the whole gamut of wood fruits, strawberries, blackberrys, bilberys, cassis and peppers all of which were present on tasting. A long full bodied wine with a great finish and hints of chocolate. 
At around 7-8€ a bottle these represent very good value for money.
Second up was Finca Collado ( www.fincacollado.com ). Again a new production although the estate has produced grapes for many years and has been a bodega likewise, under new management a newer style of wine is developing. 
First was a white Finca Collado, a blend of  50% each of Chardonnay and Muscat, 13%.  Golden yellow with green hues, clean and bright. On the nose very intense, both floral from the muscat and hints of wet wool from the chardonnay. It is the chardonnay which dominates the palate with its hints of wood ( the wine is barrel fermented ) full round, toasty and balanced perfectly. A lovely wine for just 4.50€
Second was the Finca Collado Tinto 2005 with 14 months in barrel. Predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with merlot this wine won a silver prize at the Vallodolid wine fair. This is the first tinto made under the new direction. It is 14.8%, deep red in colour with long very slow developing legs. On the nose mature red fruits and spices. Complex. In the mouth a positively full wine with a huge intense flavour and long full finish. The bodega believe this wine has a potential for long ageing. At 6€ a bottle this is definitely worth a gamble on a case or two!
I was also able to taste the 2004 made in the former and  lighter style but still popular with many customers. This was an immediately likeable and approachable wine smoother and fruitier. Worth the contrast and worth a visit to the Bodega ( maricarmen@fincacollado.com
Thirdly I tasted some of the popular range from Daniel Belda ( www.danielbelda.com ) who produce more than twenty different wines.
 This is a much more commercial operation than the previous bodegas.
First of the three wines was a Verdil joven 2008.Verdil is the regional grape much as bobal is to Utiel-Requena. Another pale straw wine with green hues. Clean, bright. 11.5%. Tropical fruit ( pineapple, passion fruit and tart apple. On the palate much more smooth than expected  fresh and quite subtle. A wine for drinking now and 3€ the bottle.
The winery was founded in 1931 and the second wine tasted was the 75 anys released to commemorate the anniversary. Actually from 2003 and from Monastrell, tintorera and shiraz at 13.5%. This is a deep red with youthful violet at the rim. On the nose there is resinous monastrell, tartness from the tintorera and fruit, smokiness and sweetness from the shiraz. On the palate dry, complex but well structured. Another wine to keep for a little while.
Finally I tasted the Ca´belda. This is monastrell and Tintorera with 12 months crianza in oak. 14.5% by volume. Again an intense deep red wine with violet edges. Very complex on the nose with hints of marmalades and jams from red fruits. Well balanced, full flavoured. At around 20€ a bottle this is a treat!
On to El Angosto, the bodega in Ontinyent. www.bodegaelangosto.com  and info for  visits  from info@bodegaelangosto.com . Visits can involve a full vineyard tour , simulation of the matanza, and a meal for groups up to 50 persons.
Angosto Blanco 08 is a blend of Verdejo, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscatel and chardonnay. 12.5% by volume it produces a pale lemon, clean, bright, wine. Very light unyeilding nose but much fuller on the palate, round full bodied which grows and has a long finish with tropical fruits, different and very pleasant. 4.20€ the bottle.
The Angosto Tinto Crianza 2007 is from a production of 27,000 bottles. A blend of Syrah, garnacha , Tintorera and Petit Verdot.
This is a deep garnet with violet edge. Vanilla, earth and black fruits on the nose, very meaty and full on the palate a solid wine for 5€
Finally El Tribu is 50% each of Monastrell and Syrah. 14% by volume it has spent 2 months in French oak. Black cherry red, with long legs. On the palate mature red fruits, balanced very full and meaty. On the long finish slightly burnt. Also 5€.
All in all agood opportunity to taste some new wines, several of which have been cellared for future reference. All of the above had very helpul staff with lots of information available.
Future events.
This weekend sees Utiel Gastronomica, one of the best of the local fairs. Again a large open area hosts wine and food from the region and visiting producers. You can also try the tapas trail, around 20 local bars each producing a local speciality and a drink usually for 2€.
Visit the Ajuntamiento website after the bank holiday weekend for further details- hopefully!  Only an hour and a bit by train from Valencia and well worth the effort.
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