VII Certamen de Vinos de Venta del Moro

VII Certamen de Vinos de Venta del Moro.
Friday 6 August, a very hot day in Valencia with the relentless summer sun and humidity intensified by maritime cloud rolling in off the coast. However come 6 o´clock in the evening and it was time to drive the 100km inland from Valencia to the small wine growing town of Venta del Moro, also a centre for wine tourism and adventure holidays using the River Cabriel. The town is in Fiesta and tonight is the 7th annual wine show bringing together producers from the town, its nearby hamlets and other local villages. Some ten bodegas attended as follows:
Agricola Jaragüense
Agricola La Union
Bodega Proexa
Bodegas de Utiel
Latorre Agrovinicola
Coop San Gregorio Magno
Casa Lo Alto
Coop Virgen del Carmen
With the exception of Aranleon, Latorre and Bodegas de Utiel who regularly show their wines at fairs this was an opportunity to sample wines from others, some I had not heard of and others like Dagon of which I had heard much promise.
The stage was set, the music quietened and the crowd politely listened to local dignitaries formally open the show and thank the local housewives association who again provided the food, a superb gazpacho manchego and orejas ( sweet flat bunuelos. )
The stage is set on a cool sunny evening.
First bodega was Proexa and I chatted with Jose Luis Lopez, their administrator. He told me that it is a family affair, and although the bodega has made wine for many years it was only in 1996 that the current Bodega, in Los Marcos,  came into existence.
They currently vinify 4 wines, but there is a new Bobal, made by the maceration carbonica method, fermented in barrel which is due to be bottled in October and which will hopefully hit the market in April next year. The bodega is entirely ecological and the wines now exhibit their certificated labels. 90% of the production is sold in Germany where the market for ecological wines is more appreciative of the product than that in Valencia he felt.
Proexa´s stand with the Vega Valterra range
We started with the Aldobanes, a blend of Syrah, Tempranillo and Merlot, selling for 12€ the bottle and 14.5% from the 2007 vintage. This was black cherry, medium density and had good strong legs. On the nose nice black fruit and on the palate good body, lovely ripe fruit, meaty, silky, lovely balance and a long satisfying finish. An excellent wine.  The 2007 Crianza from the Valterra range is Tempranillo 100%, and 14%ABV. Slightly lighter in colour than the previous wine it was still a dark cherry colour medium density with good legs. On the nose it was a little closed, the bottle had only just been
 opened, and on the palate the fruit was a little short, giving way to smooth tannins and a long lean finish. This needs a little longer or opening an hour earlier at least. The 2006 vintage of this wine had won a medal in Germany at an ecological wine fair.
The 2006 Reserva, also pure Tempranillo, also 14%Abv, was a similar colour but with a more violet edge. Again the wine was just opened and slightly warm, but displayed good black fruit on the nose. On the palate there was more fruit and tannin, balanced and with good potential but needs keeping for a while. This is clearly a bodega with great potential and successful marketing and I hope to visit next year to taste the Bobal, which should be worth the wait if their other wines are anything to go by!
The Aldabanes from Bodegas Proexa.
I have written about the wines from Bodegas de Utiel, from nearby Caudete de las Fuentes before. They produce three ranges of wines from the Finca el Renegado, Capellana, Nodus and Actum. I first tasted the Sauvignon Blanc from their Actum range the grapes for which are harvested at night to protect the freshness of the fruit and after a short maceration the wine is in oak for a couple of months. Pale lemon yellow with green flashes, clean and bright with good legs. On the nose good varietal characteristics, fruity, fresh intense herby and grassy aromas, and in the mouth well balanced fruit and acidity, a long satisfying finish. 13% ABV.
Second up was the Capellana Tinto de Autor 2008, the top wine from this range of normally joven style wines. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo and 13% Abv, the wine is a crianza. On the eye a medium cherry colour of medium density with long legs. On  the nose a very fruity nose, complex with vanilla and liquorice, mature red fruits and balsamic touches. On the palate fruity, smooth tannins well structured with a good body and long finish.
 Bodegas de Utiel with Actum, Nodus and Capellano wines.
Finally I tasted the Nodus, Reserva de Familia 2005 and 13.5% Abv. Again top wine from this range the wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Merlot. The wine begins life with a short maceration, before spending 18 months in French and American oak and then a long period of ageing in bottle. Deep red, almost crimson with a brick edge, and long legs. On the nose spicy peppery and complex with a herby edge. In the mouth black fruit, velvety peppery and with strong balsamic notes. A long satisfying full finish, a wine to keep. I like these wines and fortunately they are available from Els Bodeguers outlets, Las Añadas and El Corte Ingles making them one of the easier wines to find in Valencia.
Finca Casa Lo Alto produce two wines in a very small production, the Chardonnay in just 4260 bottles and the Tinto 9610 bottles. Unfortunately the owners were not available to answer questions about these wines and I have yet to locate any info about the bodega except that it is in Los Isidros, near to Venta del Moro, and that 10 years ago it was part of the Swiss empire of the Egli family where I suspect most of the wine is sold. The Chardonnay 2008,14.3% Abv is pale lemon with green flashes and long legs. On the nose initial wet wool gives way to tropical fruit reminiscent of a good Meursault from Burgundy. A wine that is madurado en barrica, this lacked none of the tropical fruit flavours, ripe mango and full satisfying balanced finish. A truly good wine. The Tinto Reserva 2006 is a blend of Syrah, Garnacho and Cabernet Sauvignon and is 14.8%Abv. A light cherry red in colour with, medium density and long legs. On the nose red and black fruits, concentrated, and in the mouth full bodied, smooth, velvety with a great finish. This has spent 12 months in French and American oak.
Finca Casa Lo Alto and the Tinto Reserva and Chardonnay.
Nearby to Los Isidros is the  hamlet of Casa de Pradas home to the Coop of San Gregorio Magno. Again around ten years ago this bodega was made up of 120 small producers with a total of just 279 hectares and a production of around 20k hectolitres. Founded in 1950 the bodega sells all its wine to commerciants in bulk and they had not left the bodega with much to show. A rustic ecologic rosado sold as vino de mesa was salmon pink with some underlying fruit and was quite tart.
Dagón bodegas is in nearby Los Marcos. It also makes ecological wines. An experimental project, although the family owned bodega goes back three generations, work commenced in earnest in 1988, with the first wine being released in 2003. This was the first time I had seen Dagóns wine. These have a reputation for being concentrated, full of scents and flavours with great complexity, perhaps the product of a chemical free life and allowing the terroir to dominate. The Bobal grapes from which the Miquelius, a sweet red is made are over 60 years old. The wine from  Finca los Pedriches has spent 14 months in oak and has won several awards. A deep cherry red, very full in density and with long legs, on the nose an interesting complexity reaches out of the glass and grabs you unsuspecting. Concentrated, spicy, chocolaty and sweet on the palate the word `ìmpresionante´ immediately sprung to mind. This was pure concentration, a wonderful wine which remains in the memory as yet another example of what Bobal is capable of. 32€ a bottle at the bodega where pre-arranged visits can be arranged.
The Miquelius from Bodegas Dagón.
After sampling the traditional Gazpacho at this point as the long queue had finally diminished, I turned to the Venta del Moro bodega of Latorre Agrovinicola for final sampling before the journey home through the vineyards and the motorway south.
A patient Valencian queue for food!
The bodega markets its wines in three ranges, Catamarán, Parreño and Duque de Arcas. Javier Aguilar Marí, commercial director told me about the wines and the bodega. They grow Macabeo, Malvasia and Verdejo in white and Tempranillo, Cabernet sauvignon and Bobal in red. A third generation family bodega they make both modern style and traditional wines with a philosophy of acheiving the best of itself. The entry  wines are from the joven style Parreño range. I went for Catamarán, a 2006 Macabeo which is the intermediate range. This is about to be replaced by the next vintage which is being bottled shortly. Consequently it was a fuller aged wine than will be available shortly. 12.5%ABV the wine was gold, clean and bright with long legs. On the nose it was very full with ripe fruit, which on the palate was concentrated with nice balance and structure. About as good as it will get as oxidisation is not far away it is a wine to finish up. Not bad for all that!
The Duque de Arcas range are traditional crianzas and reservas found more in other parts of Spain. I began with the Crianza, from Bobal, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. This was very deep garnet with long legs. Served chilled the nose was quite closed but in the mouth it opened up, smooth with nice black fruit,  smooth tannins and touches of vanilla and oak. The Gran Reserva Bobal 2001 at 14.5%ABV was a deep cherry red almost plum with good legs. On the nose warm jammy fruit, touches of vanilla, balsamic notes and slightly vegetal. On the palate the fruit opened up fully, jammy complex and smooth tannins, pepper and vanilla and that warm feeling at the back of the throat. At 12€ a bottle this is a wine with good ageing potential and needs good food.
All in all another very good evening tasting with insufficient time to try another local co-op and revisit the great wines of Aranleon. This is a fair that is growing and there will always be next year. It was also better for having met up with friend and fellow wine blogger Javi Prats. I dont know who officially won the best wine prizes but for me Dagón, Aldabanes and Casa Lo Alto were my favourites on the night.
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