Valencia’s Wine and Food Fair Reaches New Heights!

Valencia’s Wine and Food Fair Reaches New Heights! – Part 1
Valencia’s dry river bed this weekend is hosting the 22nd Valencian Wine and Quality Food Fair organised annually by PROAVA, the wine and food promotional body here in the Community. And to my mind this has been the best yet, a view clearly shared by fellow visitors and exhibitors alike. Several of the bodegas are exhibiting for the first time and others have chosen this rather than an international wine fair to launch their latest wine releases. Also this year more winebloggers have been evident taking their notes and discussing the wines with the enologists present. With some sixty bodegas great and small present there is an awesome amount of wine to be sampled.
Also present are cheesemakers, chocolateers, a specialist beer brewer , turron producers, bread from artesan bakers, sausages and jamons and other meat products from Requena, Ontinyent and other towns across Valencia, Alicante and Castellon which make up the community.
First of the new wines is a real champagne style cava from Bodegas Hispano Suiza. Their `Tantum Ergo´ is a  tour de force. Made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, ( they have the only plots of Pinot Noir in Utiel Requena and I commented on  the Bassus Pinot Noir in my review of the winebloggers tasting ) the same combination as Dom Perignon used. Indeed Pinot Noir has only been permitted in Spanish Cava since 2007. Pablo Ossorio of the bodega believes the brut nature is a wine champagne lovers will also enjoy with it´s  mediterranean overtones. Following initial freezing the grapes are then pressed to obtain a white must. This is passed to American oak barrels holding 400 litres where the first fermentation takes place after which it spends 20 months in bottle before being disgorged. It produces a cava with distinct Champagne notes and a Valencian finish! 
I took an early opportunity to talk with Adela Hernandez and Mariano Taberner from Bodegas Cueva from La Portera near Requena and which was the subject of my first blog last September . They were showing their 2008 Macabeo 100% (which is still wonderful). They are not making wines from the 2009 vintage, either red or white because Mariano considered the fruit too ripe when it was harvested. He is however experimenting with a small quantity of Vino dulce from the crop. I have no doubt this will be as good as the Moscatel he produced from grapes brought in from around Cheste with its incredible almost gingery nose and concentration. Also tasting was the 2006 Barrica Selecion from Bobal, Tempranillo and Garnacha. At 14.4% ABV the wine is deep cherry red, with long slow legs and a real jammy nose. In the mouth it remains full and round with deep red and black fruits, meaty and very satisfying. I really recommend this wine which is one of the many biologically produced wines at the fair.
Mariano Taberno with his Barrica Selecion and Tinto Joven.
Bodegas Alvarez Nolting was created in 1998. They are one of a number of bodegas using social media and have their own facebook page as well as a website. The 2009 Blanco is Chardonnay with a touch of Sauvignon Blanc and 12% ABV. Selling at 8€ it is pale yellow, clean and bright with long slow legs. Initially the nose produces catspee and gooseberry before displaying a complexity and depth. On the palate a good fresh attack was followed by tropical fruit flavours and a long dry finish. Second wine was the same blend but with 20 months in French oak and selling at 12€ the bottle. This was deeper yellow watery at the rim, clear and bright. The sauvignon was less apparent on the nose which was more grassy. That nice fresh attack of the previous wine was followed by an altogether smoother creamier long finish.
The Syrah 2007 is 65% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Tempranillo. A crianza with 12 months in oak, it is 13.5% ABV and 9 € the bottle. This is intense red with a violet edge and very long legs. On the nose cherries, touches of boiled sweets. On the palate light and fresh, good fruit and touches of soft tannins. A very nice wine. The 2006 was an equal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo. 13% ABV and 14€ a bottle. This has spent 18 months in oak. It is a deep garnet in colour with shorter legs than the syrah. More obvious cabernet on the nose with minerals, red fruits and tobacco on  the palate it was full and meaty, flavouful with mature red fruits and touches of wood,
Here were four very good wines with distinctive metallic labels  that I will seek out again.
Next I spoke at some length with Sebastien Hernandez from enologicaoleana, a young winemaker with a sense of humour. His wines from Sinarcas near Utiel Requena do not follow the D.O. rules. The Marsilea Tempranillo Rosado Joven is 12.5% ABV. Quite an intense red, almost onion skin brown in colour it has a very fruity cherry nose. Sebastian describes this as being `minola´which is a strawberry childs sweet – something else to look out for! This was quite dry with restrained fruit on the palate and a long dry finish. Sebastian describes it as a pink wine with pretensions to being a red and matches it with paella and arroces. His second wine was the 100% Bobal. This has 7 months in wood. It is also a biologically made wine using no chemicals at all in the process. Deep cherry red with long legs on the nose as it developed I found touches of smoke and licquorice and tar. On the palate it is nice and dry with red fruits vanilla and a smooth finish.
Sebastian with his range of wines from Sinarcas.
Third from this stable was the Tinto Fusion, a blend of Bobal, Tempranillo, Syrah and Merlot. This was a deep ruby red with long legs. On the nose more mature tannins and  balsamic notes, whilst on the palate it was deep, meaty, a full bodied red with balsamic notes and liquorice. An excellent wine. Finally Sebastian pulled out his Marsilea Brut Nature the only espumoso made from Bobal,12% ABV and 16 months on the lees. This has the same onion skin colour and long legs with a good crown. It was disgorged on the 3rd November and has an interesting complex nose and on the palate is full and yeasty, very pleasing.
Sebastians sense of humour runs to a dig at those who want warnings printed on the labels. `This could be an aphrodisiac-drink in moderation!´
It has to be said these wines were much appreciated by members of the Vilamarxant Wine Club on their first visit to the fair.  
On my arrival at the fair I encountered Javi Prats, a fellow enoblogger who I had met in Utiel at the winebloggers tasting.
He recommended the ecological wines from Bodegas Porsellanes from the Valle de Travadell in the Mountains near Alicante. They use no chemicals in the winemaking and forbid herbicides in the vineyards. When I arrived at their stand Javi had moved in and looked the part of winemaker!
Cecilia Ivars the Export Director introduced me to their wines. Recently returned from Alimentaria in Barcelona she told me their wines are better known in other European countries. This, whilst good for business is a shame as they should be better known in Valencia as well! The Èntrepins´2007 is 84%Merlot and 16% Cabernet Sauvignon and 13.5%ABV. It has spent 12 months in wood. Ruby red with long legs the nose complex with jams and wood and fruit all of which was perfectly balanced in a full dry palate. Javi  finds a touch bitterness in Merlot from the Mediterranean which adds the complexity to the finish. For me it was rather a dry finish and very satisfying. The `Agullo´2007 is 80%Tempranillo and 20% Cabernet with 14% ABV. Deep ruby red almost black at the centre, on the nose fruit, black fruits and vanilla. Even a touch of sheep droppings! On the palate lean initially, more blackberry fruitand then a powerful jammy finish. Very satisfying.
From left to right, Javi Prats, Cecilia Ivars, Caraita with the green triangle and Miguel.
Third wine here was the Mas de Caraita 2007 Tempranillo, Syrah and Garnacha blend and 14% ABV. This was cherry to garnet in colour with medium legs. Restrained soft fruit with hints of sunshine and quite lean in the palate, vanilla red fruits and developing into a full fruity long finish. Three more very good wines from a finca  worth the visit for the the views of the Sierra de la Mariola and the countryside alone. The wine is made at the Bodega in Benissa.
La Pobla del Duc is a town renowned for its Moors and Christians celebrations  is historic and proud of its Civil War refuges which can now be visited. It is also enthusiastically promoting its wine, a Valencia D.O. made from Garnacha and Tempranillo which spends 7 months in the highest quality French oak. The 2008 at 13.5% sells for 5€. A deep red with a cherry edge and good legs, has a nice mixture of red fruits and wood on the nose. On the palate these characteristics are coupled with good fruit, smooth tannins and elegance. It has a satisfying long finish.
The wines of Murviedro are often reviewed in my blogs because there is always something new to try. Their new range of Cavas under the marque `Luna´are already award winners. The new Rosada Brut Cava 12% ABV was only released onto the market on 6 April. From Garnacha it is onion skin in colour with good bubbles and a full crown. It is light,fresh and yeasty on the nose with light red fruits. Satisfying and smooth on the palate it is light with a good fruit finish. For some reason cheap lambrusco is popular in Valencia which produces it´s own sparkling vinos de aguja.  Murviedro have introduced Estrella, an espumosa of just 8%ABV and a blend of 60% Moscatel de Alejandria and Viura ( Macabeo ). Surprisingly yellow in colour with green flashes it has an unmistakeable apple and pear nose with citrus undertones. On the palate it is light fresh and creamy with a bite from the bubbles. Not a mans wine but I guess it will be good seller!
When I first arrived in Spain the first white wine I tried came from the Santa Barbera Cooperative in Titaguas. The Llanos de Titaguas D.O. Valencia Alto Turia is still produced there, one of the few working co-ops in the D.O. and at 11.5% pure Merseguera it sells for just 2.50€ a bottle. Pale yellow, clean and bright with medium legs it has a fresh citrus fruit aroma. On the palate it has a clean fresh attack and a long satisfyingly dry finish. Now there is a second wine to go with it. Merse is Merseguera and a little macabeo fermented in the barrel, also 11.5%. golden yellow with old gold flashes and  is clean and bright. It is light and fresh with quite a closed nose. On the palate citrus and spices mingle almost like a gewurztraminer with a full round finish. It sells for 5€ the bottle.
Opening bottles of Llanos de Titaguas and Mersé
This is a food fair as well and as well as world award winning cheeses from Quesos Cati and Romero Gonzalvez whose Queso Jamesa I have written about before, the artesan cheeses of San Antonio from Callosa D´en Sarria ( Alicante ) are also on display. A generous mix of soft and harder cheeses from cow, cow and goat and goat on its own can be had in exchange for a tasting ticket. These were cheeses highly rated and recommended by the Vilamarxant wine club.
Torre Oria is a bodega whose wines I have often seen and tasted and indeed we visited the Bodega 2 years ago with friends who were visiting on holiday. Not long after we arrived here Torre Oria modernised their labels and have clearly had an eye on presentation ever since  which is just as important sometimes as the product in the bottle. 
Santiago Sancho Rosello the head of sales and his team were happy to discuss the wine and introduced me to two new wines in the N.V. Range which are actually D.O. Valencia rather than D. O. Utiel Requena where the bodega is situated in Derramador. First wine was the new N.V Chardonnay 2008 13.5%ABV. This was pale gold, bright and clean. On the nose light, fresh floral and fruity. On the palate fresh with nice acidity, a long dry creamy finish with hints of minerals. This was followed by the 100% Macabeo 12.5% ABV from the Marques de Requena range which won best white wine in the Els Bodeguers tasting. This is pale lemon, even from centre to rim, with good legs. Quite closed on the nose this had a fresh clean attack, round fruit and a creamy long finish. This is a really easy drinker from a range that is designed to be just that – easy drinking and at a good price around the 3€ mark.
The Marques de Requena 100% Tempranillo Crianza 2005 at 12.5%ABV also fits this bill. 9 months in American oak provides a wine, garnet in colour with a cherry rim and long legs. On the nose wood fruits, particularly blackberry, on the palate a touch of wood, smooth tannins a hint of bitterness but a long rich fruity satisfying finish. Again an unpretentious easy drinker which does not need food . The N.V. 100% Syrah 2009  from the new range is a tinto barrica wine at 13.5%. This has been in French, American or Hungarian oak for between 4-5 months until considered ready. It is between a joven and crianza in style. Deep cherry red this has long slow developing legs. The nose is still quite closed but shows a touch of both wood and fruit. On the palate black wood fruits persist and it has a long dry lean finish. I feel this wine will have more to offer after a little longer in bottle.
Wines from Torre Oria including the new range.
The Chozas Carrascal range of wines from the Lopez family bodega is one I have dipped into at fairs before. It is also a social network aware organisation . And of course Las Ocho  was on show at the winebloggers tasting. The bodega is high on my list for a visit, possibly next week  but I ventured a tilt at the Cava Brut Nature 12.5%ABV and 50% each of Macabeo and Chardonnay. This is gold, a nice even colour clean and bright but in the wrong glass to observe the bubbles rising. The crown was good. The nose is yeasty and toasty but there is no domination by either variety. On the palate there is a nice fresh attack, light fruit and and a long dry balanced finish with a hint of citrus. This is a very easy drinking Cava and I look forward to my visit to put the whole range in perspective.
Hormo del Hoyo is a small enterprise of 4 hectares in Campo Arcis near Requena. It is partnered by a similar enterprise in Castellon which I tasted in Utiel 18 months ago. Toni Sancho is looking for buyers for his production of just 8000 bottles and should not have too much difficulty if he markets directly to restaurants whether here or in the rest of Europe.
The 2007 is 40% Cabernet sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 20% syrah. The wine undergoes the almost compulsory treatment for new wines in the region of careful selection of bunches, individual destalking, malolactic fermentation in barrel , 12 months crianza followed by 12 months minimum in bottle. This attention to detail gives a wine which is ruby red with a violet edge and long legs. It has aromas of blackcurrant and blackberry, floral tones from the syrah ( violets) and pepper, fennel spices coco and vanilla from the wood. On the palate I found it powerful and balanced with a long finish. It claerly has a good ageing potential of at least 5 years. One to watch. 
Horma del Hoyo, Utiel Requena
The next wines we tasted were from Finca Collado whose wines I wrote about after the L´Alcudia gastronomic fair last October. Mari Carmen Lopez very kindly put on a full tasting for the Vilamarxant wine club members. Starting with the 2009 Blanco at 13%ABV this is a blend of Chardonnay and Moscatel de Alejandria. There is a limited production of just 6000 bottles of this wine which sells for 5€. It has spent three months in French oak and comes from vines with an average of 15 years of age. First and malolactic fermentattion takes place in wood. The resulting wine is golden with green flashes. Tropical fruit dominates but quickly gives way to the chardonnay which gives gentle fruity tones and a lovely balanced long finish.
We tasted the 2003 and 2004 Finca Collado as well as the new 2007 vintage which is Cabernet sauvignon and Merlot. This wine is now resting new in bottle and will be on the market in May,hopefully. 14%ABV and from a production of just 4000 bottles it is light cherry red with a violet edge and long legs. The nose is still closed after 14 months in wood but on the palate there is incredible fruit and depth.
More and more I like these wines and this was clearly the view of the wine club who are clamouring for a visit to the Finca in Salinas towards the end of May.
Val, Ian , Brian, Tony and Alan from Vilamarxant!
Bodegas de Utiel sits in the pretty little town of Caudete de las Fuentes, one of the towns which make up D.O. Utiel Requena. From the Finca `El Renegado´ they produce three ranges of wine, Actum, Nodus and Capellano. I looked at a couple of the wines from the Nodus range which seems to be making a name for itself in restaurants locally. The Nodus Chardonnay Madurado en Barrico 12.5% won the 1st prize in this category at the Els Bodeguers tasting. After 9 months in French oak the wine is yellow, clean and bright. A quite grassy nose gives way to tropical fruit on the palate with predominantly pineapple but it remains nice and dry with a full long finish. It is certainly the best chardonnay I have tasted so far at the fair. It sells for 10€. Next I tried the Reserva de Familia 2005. This Tinto de Autor is 13.5% and is a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo.It has spent 18 months in American oak. The wine is deep garnet with touches of brick at the edge. On the nose their are powerful red and black wood fruits, spices and a hint of smoke. In the mouth it is a powerhouse. Huge ripe fruits, blackcurrant jam, round and very long on the finish this is a wine that will stand up to just about any food. Time did not permit any more chance to look at other wines and this will have to wait for a visit. However having previously tried wines from this and the Actum range I know this is a bodega to watch.
Alicante in particular is home to distilleries whose products sell well and are well appreciated in the community. In fact the spirits produced are themselves under the control of a D.O. which specifies the regulations for the products. Antonio Botella Canto, a member of the third generation of the founding families of Destillerias Tenis was very generous in throwing open his whole range to the wine club to sample and extended an invitation to visit them in Monforte del Cid, Alicante. The four products allowed by the D.O. are Cantueso Alicantino distilled from the flowers of the Cantueso, Anis Paloma de Monforte del Cid, Aperitivo Cafe de Alcoy and Herbero de la Sierra de Mariola. Distelerias Tenis also produce liquors from mandarines, a limoncello , coffee, green apple, mint  and peach which are popular as either aperitifs or shots after a meal. They have a range of Anis products and also produce a popular gin. We were all struck by the depth of flavours in the liquors and the clean attack of the anis seco.
To be continued…………………………………………………………
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