1st Valencian Cava Fair


Our winemakers bubbles raise Valencia to Heaven!
 
Under this motto the 1st Valencian cava fair took place last weekend in the grand and appropriate setting of the Cloister of Valencia’s University. As one grower put it, `a serious venue for a quality product ´. And he wasn´t joking. This was my first opportunity to taste a number of Cavas in one sitting so to speak and I was wondering why this was the first Cava fair. However it seemed all too obvious when almost all the growers said that they had only been making Cava for about four years. In fact since Bodegas Torre Oria won the right to call their `traditionally made ´sparkling wine Cava, ( something they proudly display from memory with a copy of the court judgement on the wall of their impressive tasting room at the bodega near Requena) the making of Cava has taken off in an impressive way. That was amply displayed at this fair with a range of sixteen producers some with multiple wines to taste.
 
 
I don´t mind how much it is necessary to spit when tasting but I do find there is a limit to what the palate will take whether it is Cava, English traditional method wines or even Champagnes, especially when the wines are young.
 
As there were some wines I was already familiar with I set out only to sample as many new ones as possible with my four tasting tickets! Apologies therefore to Murviedro, to Vegamar, to Torre Oria and others whose products are not mentioned here.
 
First up was the Brut Nature Reserva from Union Viticola del Este a new bodega which debuted in 2007. Their `Beso de Rechenna ´ at 11.5%ABV is a wine I have seen advertised often but not encountered before. It was worth the wait. Described by the bodega as unique, complex and intense I found this 80% Macabeo,20% Chardonnay blend superb.This pale yellow with its even, persistent, rise of small bubbles was brilliantly clear. On the nose it had fragrance, was slightly redolent of wet wool initially then fruit with citrous afternotes. It provided a strong attack on the palate,creamy, full and persistent  with toasty aftertones and a balanced, elegant long finish. Available at specialist outlets and through restaurants etc for around 8€ a bottle we were off to a flying start. More info on the company at cava@uveste.es
 
Second was ( or as it turned out second, third and fourth were ) the cavas of Bodegas Sebiran, www.bodegasebiran.com 
 
Although not vintage wines all the wines were from single harvests. The Coto DÁrcis Cava Brut runs out at 12%ABV. After fermentation and ageing in bottle for at least 9 months the yeasts are then expelled and expedition liquor is added. The wine is pale straw in colour with bright hints and reasonable bubbles. Fresh and clean the wine is balanced, dry light and fresh in the mouth with a long finish. Again this wine retails at around 8€ and is 100% Macabeo.
 
A step up was the Cava Brut Especial also 12% ABV. This has 18 months in bottle before disgorging and the difference shows immediately. The wine is light straw, with definite green hues and more persistent rise of bubbles. It positively sparkles! On the nose there is an array of fruits, apples, herbs  and and balsamic tones. It has a fuller smoother and longer finish. It retails for around 15€ the bottle. The wine is 80% Macabeo with predominantly Xarel-Lo making up the rest.
 
Finally the top of the range ( for me ) was the Cava Brut Nature also 12%ABV, the same blend as the previous wine  and 15€ the bottle. This wine has rested for 22 months with it´s yeasts. Light straw, crystal clear and green gleam. The nose was so much more full and fragrant with apples , tropical fruit flowers, yeasts and so much more. Complex and heady. On the palate the wine is expressive but so so smooth. An absolute delight and candidate , for me for best wine of the fair.
 
Next I turned to Bodegas Torroja from the hamlet of El Azagador outside El Ponton and near to Requena. The Sybarus Brut Nature at 11.5%ABV was pale yellow with green hues though only light bubbles. With 80% Macabeo and 20% Chardonnay, the nose was fresh with tones of fennel, something I have found in Macabeo before. The wine commenced with a good attack becoming more smooth with a full, persistent, long finish with later toasty creamy flavours Very nice.
Visits are possible and meals can be taken in the attached El Alambique restaurant. www.bodegastorroja.com .
 
Finally I had to try the legendary Pago de Tharsys Unico. This wine from a progressive and friendly bodega on the outskirts of Requena is unique for being the only cava made from 100% Bobal in the manner of a blanc de noir champagne. The comparison does not end there retailing at 22€ a bottle this has much more in common with a champagne made from pure Pinot Noir. Old gold in colour with medium sized bubble rising gracefully in long lines, clean and bright. On the nose hints of red fruits bread and yeasts, a strong heady mix. On the palate this is the fullest most complex, different and complete wine, an absolute joy and equal contender for wine of the fair.
 
This fair has to be held again in future years. There are far too many new Valencian Cavas still to be tasted! As suspected more than one grower confided that it´s proximity to Xmas was deliberate and all felt that the wines from Valencia beat their Catalan cousins hands down. Who am I to disagree and many Valencians clearly seemed to enjoy it all as well!
 
 
 
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