A Visit to Bodegas y Viñedos Carres

A Visit to Bodegas y Viñedos Carres.
This new bodega which only released it´s first wine late last year is situated in the hamlet of Casas de Eufemia. As you drive from Requena along the straight N322 road towards Albacete you are struck by the size of the flat dry plain on either side stretching  to the South and to the North and entirely covered by vines. After 14km and passing a couple of unidentified bodegas sat in the shelter of pine trees you come to the exit for Casas de Eufemia which sits just a km from the main road.
Yesterday was cold but dry and sunny and the sun bounced back off the steel tanks of the Cooperative Inmaculada which sits at the entry to the village. This co-op dates to 1972 and makes a rosado sold in bottle and bulk directly. Another local private bodega was making a Bobal Rose 10 years ago sold exclusively to the Madrid market. I was here to meet Jose Luis Carpio-Torres a dynamic young winemaker with a garage sized project of which he is justifiably proud.
Jose Luis is 30 next week and having studied at the Requena Wine and Viticulture College he emerged a qualified oenologist and is currently employed at the co-operative in La Portera which makes wine for Coviñas, the giant organisation in Requena itself. Jose Luis has a lifelong experience in wine as his father and grandfather before him made wine, sold in bulk to friends and family who he remembers coming with various sized cubitainers over the years.
The family own a number of parcels of vines, mainly the regional Bobal, but also some tempranillo. It is the Bobal that ignites his passion and Jose Luis set aside 2.5 hectares of non-irrigated vineyard, strictly chemical free and makes his wines according to the lunar calendar. In this he is one of a growing number of new winemakers in the area.
His project started properly in 2008. A family house in Casas de Eufemia , in Calle Francho , was available and they set about creating a small warehouse in which to make his new wine. Even his mother helped to paint the floors. This property had been the site of the family winemaking tradition for four generations mentioned above. The family live in Requena itself but the house is being renovated to provide accomodation again.
Jose Luis bought in some small tanks giving him an initial capacity of 20,000 litres and 28 barrels, each of 225 litres, all French oak, but from three different sources.
Jose luis´s passion for Bobal and its potential affects you from the moment you meet him. He is very clear about the quality of fruit that can be produced and thereafter the wine but believes a huge amount of care needs to be taken, tests need to be made on the developing harvests and that they need to visited on an almost daily basis to ensure all is well. His vines are over 50 years old from plots called Olivastro, from which the wine takes its name. Needless to say Jose luis is backward and forward between nearby La Portera and his bodega although his father also helps.
The lunar calendar and biodynamic practice underline the whole process in the bodega as well as the vineyards. Certain tasks are performed only according to the calender depending on whether they are appropriate to Fruit, flower, leaf or root days.
His vineyards are close to the house and the grapes are collected in small 15kg boxes and taken staright to the bodega. A small destalker removes the grapes almost intact and a speed that allows individual grapes to be removed from the belt taking them to the tanks allows for a second selection process, the first being in the vineyard. The small tanks, each of 5,000 litres are filled slowly, and carefully and the fruit is then preserved in dry ice which acts an an antiseptic and means that no sulphur is used at all. Here they remain for several days before their own natural yeasts commence the fermentation process.
Following this alcoholic fermentation the grapes are gently pressed and the wine put straight into the barrels where later they undergo a malolactic fermentation and absorb the tannins from the wood. They remain here until bottling determined by regular tastings and evaluation of it´s progress. The wine is bottled unfiltered and the for the 2008 vintage had been in wood for 9 months.
The first wine the 2008 Olivastro produced just 7464 bottles , selling well to local restaurants and through a distributor for about 9€. A D.O. Utiel-Requena the wine is described as `vino de autor´ but Jose Luis confirmed it could have been a crianza within the rules of the C.R.D.O. He however does not want to feel constrained at this point by the tight rules that apply. Although Olivastro 2009 is now well on it´s way maturing in the bodega he is not guaranteeing to produce a wine of the same style every year. Firstly of course he could expand as other family plots are available to him and secondly because there is also tempranillo although he conceded that the wine made from that variety was strictly for the family and not the market as it had not responded in the same way as the bobal. I believe Jose Luis will make a wine which best expresses in his view what the fruit can produce. And we must not forget that that while his 2009 approaches release other local winemakers have not made red wine in 2009 because the fruit was either too mature or the tannins were too gripping. He makes the point that the soil absorbs the water from the rains very quickly and that the Bobal can suffer very badly espaecially as in years such as last with their excessively long ,hot and dry summer. This makes winemaking with Bobal more complicated.
What is not in doubt is the quality of fruit or the wine drinking experience with Olivastro 2008. It is a deep red with violet edges belying its young age and the style of winemaking. Initially the nose is just a huge red fruit salad with plum jam and cherries and blackcurrants fighting to get out. This explosion of fruit is just as apparent in the mouth and followed by toasted flavours from the wood. It has a long rich finish memorably of plum jam. As jose Luis talked the wine opened out more and by the time I had finished my glass I was getting smoke and flavours more redolent of Syrah and Crozes Hermitages. Jose explained that his wine developed slowly and in three ways as the glass emptied.
We then tried a barrel sample of the 2009. This was clearly much younger and still to develop but to my palate all the boiled sweets apparent in Beaujolais Nouveau were developing but much deeper with some complex spicy aftertones. This wine not unexpectedly was purple and left its mark on the glass in deep red long slow developing legs.
Jose Luis may be unclear at this point about where the Bodega will be in 5 years and what wines he may be making but there can be little doubt that as it becomes better known in Valencia his bodega´s wines will be quicly snapped up. His wine is easily drinkable on it´s own but also makes an excellent accompaniment to lamb in particular, cheese and jamon.
A wine maker with a bright future, Jose Luis Carpio Torres is seen here with a selection of equipment in the bodega, the barrel park and top left, the cooperative Inmaculada at the entry to Casas de Eufemia and an old Bobal vine cut in vase shape.
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