D.O. Valencia, Moscatel and Sweet Wine Fair.

Valencia Celebrates it’s Moscatel and Sweet Wines at a Special Fair.
Last weekend saw the first wine fair dedicated to the Sweet wines of Valencia and proved a great success by all accounts.
Although some producers take examples of their wines from this end of the spectrum to the various gastronomy and wine fairs of the community it is unusual to find quite so many available in one place to taste and compare at the same time. The  fair followed a recent evaluation tasting by Els Bodeguers, a collective of Wine Merchants who evaluate each vintage and award prizes to the bodegas of the region.
Some 10 bodegas  exhibited their wines, some of them Co-operatives, some huge international companies and some small bodegas. This was also an opportunity to see the variety of presentation of the wines from the traditional 75cl heavy glass bottle with it´s embossed grapes through the traditional screw top to  the innovative trendy 50cl format in different shapes.
A variety of Valencian moscatel and sweet wines showing some different bottle styles.
The first wine tasted was from Bodegas Enguera from the Alforins area South of Valencia. This wine ( not pictured above) is made from Verdil the regional grape of the Val D´Alforins. Winemaker Alvaro de Nieves Toledo explained this wine was naturally fermented  from grapes which had acheived 13% alcohol in the first week of October. Subsequently frozen to minus 10C for 15 days this process breaks down cells in the skin which in turn releases aromatic components which would not otherwise occur in a natural fermentation. The subsequent wine acheives 9% ABV and has already won a Silver medal at the 2008 Brussels World Wine Competition. It is straw yellow with green reflections , clean and bright. The nose has distinct notes of honey and cinnamon and this is reflected in the mouth together with citrus fruit and minerals. It is fresh, sweet but delicately balanced and makes a fine aperitif wine.
Second up was the Fusta Nova a traditional moscatel from Bodegas Vicente Gandia famous in Valencia for a range of wines but better known in the UK for Castillo de Lliria which has been on sale for some years. This is 100% Moscatel of Alexandria, the traditional Valencian variety and is a multi award winning wine. 15% ABV this also undergoes a cold fermentation without pressing to acheive maximum expression of the fruit. It then spends three months in French oak. This is a golden yellow wine ( pictured fourth from left above ) brilliant and clear, full citrus, honey and apricot nose but remains fresh if full and beautifully balanced in the mouth. This is a versatile wine suitable for aperitifs as well as serving with Valencian cakes or fruit. It sells for around 6€ a 50 cl bottle.
I have looked at the wines from Daniel Belda, the Fontanars de Alforins bodega before ( October 2009 L´Alcudía Gastronomy fair ) but this fair provided a new range. Third wine up was Tendencia, a brand new wine to the market at 12% ABV and just 3 € the bottle. This wine is Verdil blended with moscatel to produce a light fresh dry but fruity wine ideal for seafood dishes. Pale yellow and clear and bright, this has an almost sauvignon blanc nose, all herbs and spices and flowers. It has a good attack on  the palate, fresh floral and balanced long finish. This could become a firm favourite in my house. ( Picture to the left above ). Second wine from their stable was Anima de Cup. This is a traditional style Moscatel de Valencia at 14.5% ABV and also 3€ the bottle. This had long slow developing legs with a pale green gold hue clear and bright. The style is a little fuller with currants and honey syrup on the nose, very smooth on the palate with honey but not cloying. Last but not least was the Belda Vi Dolç a sweet red from Tintorera and Monastrell. Also 15% ABV this showed long slow developing legs, light red with a very fruity nose, spicy redcurrants, and wood fruits it was sweeter on the palate than anticipated, light and fruity. I think this was shown a little cold and needed to warm up a bit to show its promise but a very interesting wine and also 3€ the 50 cl bottle. ( Pictured third from the right above.) 
Miguel Velázquez is well known on the wine fair circuit, a charming friendly young man with a passion for making good wines. As owner of Bodegas Los Frailes famous for their dry reds ( Biologia and Triologia) his After3 100% Monastrell Vi Dolç is a refreshing alternative. 15.5%ABV and 12€ the 50cl bottle ( not pictured above) this naturally fermented wine was possibly the highest strength wine in the fair. It is cherry red with long , very slow legs and on the nose showed the most evidence of wood together with wood fruits. It was also slightly drier on the palate making it perfect to accompany cheese and nuts and is perhaps a little more in the Southern French style.
Next we turned to the Baronia de Turis, the big co-op with a range of cheap ( around 1.15€ the bottle) but immensely  popular satisfying supermarket wines which underplay the quality produced. New to the range late last year is a premium range selling at around 5€ the bottle called Luna de Mar. The white in this range is 100% Moscatel from the Moscatel de Valencia sub-zone around Turis and Montroy. Handed picked only the best grapes from the best parcels go into this wine. These are picked slightly early to obtain the best extraction of aromas with the fermentation taking place in contact with the skins. The wine itself is 11.5% and currently on sale is the 2008 vintage. Straw yellow in colour the wine has the typical white flower and tropical fruit nose, slightly tart on the attack the balance is round  fruity and long and this is a wine for paté, fish and seafood. Also available was their Dona Dolç from Moscatel de Alejandria. At 15% ABV this is pale yellow, clean and bright with good legs. The nose was typically honeyed and in the mouth this was a satisfying if not exceptional deep moscatel.
Last but not least I looked at the Marques de Caro range from Bodegas Cherubino Valsangiacoma. This Italian sounding name is in fact Swiss with vineyards in Valencia and Alicante. The bodega is one of the two ugly sisters bodega complexes sitting next to the Madrid-Valencia motorway on the outskirts of Chiva.
Wines from Bodegas Cherubino Valsangiacomo.
The dry white muscat is blended with merseguera and is described as coming from the Alto Turia sub-zone.This is pale yellow, clear and bright with a honeyed floral nose. On the palate it is floral and full, good acidity, freshly  balanced with a long finish and is good value at 3€ a bottle. The Marques de Caro Vino de Licor is by contrast a 15% ABV wine selling for 5€ the 50 cl bottle. This was winner of the Els Bodeguers tasting 2010. It is deep burn´t gold with long legs. Rich with fruits and blossoms, peaches and honey on the nose this a full style moscatel, sticky on the palate, coating the mouth with rich honeyed fruits and with a full satisfying finish. Not for the fainthearted!
Also showing were Murviedro whose Estrella range were covered at the Utiel Gastronomic fair last October and Bodegas El Villar from Villar de Arzobispo. This fair should be repeated as there are many more examples worthy of a public outing and comparison with their peers.
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