Ferevin 2010

 Ferevin 2010.
This weekend 26-29 August was the 18th festival of the wine harvest and 20th festival of the Requena Wine Fair, the oldest in Spain a fair of Cultural Importance visited by professionals, Valencians with a passion for their wine and culture and International visitors who know how to have a good time! Quite how it is only the 20th fair when wine has been made in the area since at least 3500 years before Christ escapes me but let us not dwell on that.
The vintage festival is a traditional town fiesta with the very traditional costume events, bands, bull fights and cultural events and this began a couple of weeks ago and continues into early September. Ferevin ( or the Feria Requenense del Vino ) is the important one and this is an extremely well organised wine fair held in the open air under the plane trees on the Avenida Arrabal in the centre of town, dominated by the monument to the Vendemia. Ferevin is actually an association of bodegas (separate from the DO Utiel Requena ) who are charged with promoting the regions wines, have an HQ in the old town  where every day except Monday ( closed ), those in the know can attend at mid-day and enjoy a glass of wine from one of the participating bodegas. Next door is the HQ of the Ruta del Vino who promote wine tourism throughout the area.
Entry to Ferevin.
A number of bodegas, the DO and associated organisations and producers take stands and offer their wines to the public at the price of 7€ for eight tasting tickets which gives you an engraved quality tasting glass and eight glasses of wine. If you travel by train from Valencia you can deduct 2€ from the price making the session between 11.am and 2pm a very cheap experience, not to mention an unforgettable trip through the mountains and gorges of the Hoya de Buñol.
This year I had decided to take a more leisurely view of the proceedings and to taste over three days, commencing on Friday and continuing over Saturday and Sunday. The aim was twofold, firstly to show some friends in detail the local grape varieties ( particularly Bobal ) and the quality and range of wines it can produce, but secondly also improve my contacts and friendships in the winemaking business. Utiel-Requena is almost unknown as a wine making name outside Spain yet it produces wines of outstanding variety and quality and more of it is becoming available in the UK, China, Japan , the USA and Europe generally.
We commenced day one with a tasting in the company of Hervé Gómez Armero, commercial director of Bodegas Torroja which I visited in May. There were some gaps in my knowledge of their range and therefore here was a golden opportunity to close them. The bodega is owned by the Garcia family and was covered in my blog of 29 May and it also has an excellent restaurant, El Alambique, where incidentally we were to  lunch on day two.
We tasted the Tardana Unico 2009 and the Cañada Mazan Rosado 2009, both covered in the May blog before moving on to the Syrah 2006 from the Sybarus range. This is a 14%ABV wine, fermentado en barrica, and a crianza and was from a chilled bottle as the temperatures were around 40 degrees. Selling at about 6.50€ a bottle the wine is cherry red of medium density and has very long slow legs. On the nose black cherry and smoke predominate with a hint of liquorice but the fruit and oak are dominated by tannins  and this needs another six months in bottle yet. 
In contrast the crianza Bobal 2006 from the same range at 13.5% ABV was a little paler in colour and density, but still with long legs. On the nose wood fruits sun and smooth tannins gave a generous wine , nicely balanced and easy to drink now on its own or with food. To finish the reds we also tasted the 2002 Reserva de Familia, 13.5% ABV and 15€ the bottle. This is a vino de autor, a wine which expresses the winemakers personality and which is a blend of the best casks of Cabernet Sauvignon for structure, Merlot , Bobal and Syrah for the aromatics and a touch of Pinot Noir for the special touch as Hervé describes it. This is a silky wine and a full review is available in my May blog.  
Sybarus 2006 Bobal DO Utiel-Requena Bodegas Torroja
We finished with the Dulce de Bobal, a 15% ABV Vino de Licor which shows what Bobal can produce when left on the vine to dry out like sultanas. Rusty red with long legs, concentrated raisiny very mature fruit and a lovely deep mouthful of concentrated dried fruit. This was exceptional with a salty dry old goats cheese but would go well with nuts, fruit or spooned over ice cream or into the centre of an ogen melon. 5€ a 500ml bottle.
We crossed the Avenida Arrabal to the stand of Chozas Carrascal where Maria-José López, daughter of the owners and a friend from the winebloggers event in April and other fairs and Vino-Valencia presentations greeted us enthusiastically. I unashamedly like the wines from this property and the Pedralba wine circle will be tasting more of them in the future. The 2007 Brut Nature Cava is a big wine. At 11.5% ABV, 55% Chardonnay and 45% Macabeo it has spent 21 months en rima, ( in the bottle on the lees) giving a cava of depth, body, nice toasty yeast scents and flavours and a hint of wet wool on the nose. It is a quality cava of depth and body and any previous feelings that it was short in the finish were dispelled today.
Las Tres, a blend of Macabeo for acidity, Chardonnay for structure and Sauvignon blanc for the tropical fruits and white flowers on the nose is elegant, very full and has a long persistent finish. Next we tried the Dom Perna Batut, a 2007 St Jean de Minervois from a parcel of vines the family own in this French village producing excellent fresh muscats. A vin doux naturel it is pale gold, has green flashes and long legs, an initial floral then fat full nose and is honeyed in the mouth with peaches, apricots and a persistent finish.
I reviewed the 2006 Las Ocho in my `winebloggers tasting´ blog in April and today we were able to taste the 2007. Essentially a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot , Garnacha and Bobal it is topped up with seasonings of the four other grape varieties grown at the property and the blend varies according to the year.
At 14%ABV, the 2007 is a deeper bright cherry red than the 2006 with long legs. It has red and black fruits in abundance and smooth tannins and is intense, a wine to keep.
Finally, before arranging a visit next weekend to the bodega before the harvest commences, we tasted the 2007 Cabernet Franc from a bottling of 7714. Only just now being accepted as a noble variety and authorised by the DO this is actually their best red wine. At 14% ABV and with 7 months in new oak the wine displays fabulous varietal characteristics with just a hint of the mediterranean about it. Violet with red fruits, green peppers, smooth tannins and full bodied this is another quality wine to watch.
Next we crossed back over the Avenida to Dominio de La Vega´s stand where Raquel Armero the wine maker was on hand to help out. It is only less than a month since I visited the property to taste cask samples and cavas en rima ( see August blogs). Today was an opportunity to taste the finished product. 
First wine was the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, fermentado en barrica at 12.5% ABV. This is another wine from the reserva range which includes the Bobal reviewed in the winebloggers tasting. Pale gold with green flashes, clean and bright, with long slow legs this has tropical fruit, white flowers and fresh fruit on the nose. In the mouth dry acidity is balanced with good fruit which invites you back quickly for a second sip. It has a long finish.
Sauvignon Blanc from Dominio de la  Vega
After  my recent visit I reviewed the Pinot Noir en rima. The finished wine does not disappoint! Pale raspberry with a near onion skin colour, a touch of wet wool on the nose it reserves its pleasures for the palate. Here a good attack, persistent bubbles, toasty yeasty vanilla flavours lead to a creamy elegant finesse and long finish. A classy cava this one!
Last year a vino dulce was introduced, strictly an ice wine, it is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Macabeo and 12.5% ABV. Lemon yellow with green flashes, clean and bright with long legs, it has a slightly wet wool nose with emerging tropical fruit and white flowers. Lightly sweet in the mouth, fruity and quite different to taste a sweet wine from dry grapes!
The first blog I wrote, last September was about a visit to Bodegas Cueva, the project of Mariano Taberner and Adela Hernandez. I have long admired the two reds produced, essentially the difference being that the Finca Seleción is a product of fermentation in stainless steel whilst the Barrica seleción has spent a few months in european oak. Both from the 2007 vintage the joven style former wine still has incredible depth and fruit flavour and shows no sign of tiring. The latter shows the influence of the oaking process and is a rounder, fuller, more expressive wine. Harvests have not been kind to the Bodega and last years was written off because the fruit was far to mature. This year has been difficult as well for a number of reasons mainly due to the weather, and it looks as though Mariano will be buying in grapes and experimenting again. In the meantime the bodega is open for meals and details are  available from Adela. The white is a good example of the experimentation process. Mariano was showing a pure Macabeo which has undergone a second fermentation in bottle and shows the lacteos produced in the process, a spritzy full bodied dry white with undertones of milk and cheese.
Mariano Taberner of Bodegas Cueva
We finished the first session at the stand of Pago de Tharsys, the Requena bodega with a growing list of awards for its wines. First visited in 2005 and later in 2007 I have never done a full blog on the property despite regularly enjoying the wines and this will be rectified before the end of the year. Now producing an Eau de Vie and an Orujo from Albarino and Bobal respectively their best wine for me, best cava all round, is the Unico at 23€ a bottle. This is 100% Bobal but a blanco de Negre and was reviewed in Decembers blog of the cava fair in Valencia. For me no cava has yet displayed the same depth of flavour, body and sheer intensity of this wine. We also tried the award winning Brut Nature, a wine with classic persistent bubbles rising in straight lines and the 100% Garnacha cava rosado with its long creamy elegant aftertaste.  It is time this bodega received its full review and this will happen before Xmas.
The second day of this years fair started somewhat cooler than the 42 degrees of the previous afternoon and evening. I have written of Murviedro’s wines on a number of occasions before and at any fair they are worth visiting for the quality and size of the range of the wines they produce. Giant commercial entity they may be but again the awards for innovation and quality wine do not flatter them…and of course their wines sell well in the UK, whether under DO Valencia, DO Utiel-Requena or DO Alicante.  A friend who was tasting with me  has not had the opportunity to try this range before so we undertook a quick tour across a few of their signature wines. The `Estrella´ range for example with its pure Muscat or rosado made from Muscat blended with Garnacha, both sweet but both fresh and versatile wines and sold in a handy 50cl bottles are an absolute pleasure to drink.
Murviedro have this habit of dragging you back because there is always something you haven´t tried such as the Luna range, the new cavas or the new labelled `M´ a range of monovarietals which have proved popular in supermarkets this year. We tasted the the 13% ABV Tempranillo 2008, a medium density dark cherry wine with violet edge, on the nose fresh, fruity and heady, a young wine which in the mouth is full of red and black fruits smooth tannins and well rounded. A satisfying supermarket wine, unpretentious and popular… can´t be bad! Signature and serious wine from DO Utiel Requena is the Cuevas de Perdon ( there is a separate wine of this range from each DO, ) 2007 , 14.5% ABV and 18€ the bottle it is a medium density cherry red with a violet edge. Still quite closed on the nose it has a nice black cherry bitter fruit, long full and satisfying this is a wine to hold onto!
Vereda Real, another Requena winery, and another range of quality wines with a habit for winning awards. They have a passion for the local varieties and a desire to provide wines which do not rely on overuse of oak, indeed trying regularly to vary the blend of American, French, Hungarian and Caucasian barrels. Perhaps not uniquely they are also trying spanish oak.
First from their range was the Maccabeu 2008 11.5%ABV Blanco. It is pale yellow with bright flashes, clean and bright and on the nose we enjoyed floral tones, white flowers especially, butter and melon. In the mouth this wine expresses its harmony, the floral notes, cream and soft acid blending perfectly. Second was the rosado, a Bobal 100%,  12% ABV from 2008. Deep rose in colour, clean and bright, with long legs. On the nose fragrant , strawberry flavours, clean with vanilla and in the mouth warm and acidic, inviting you back for a second sip immediately. The Bobalia roble was covered in my report of the `winebloggers tasting´ but for me this remains a favourite supermarket wine, elegant , fragrant and with something fresh that a short period of time in oak gives this astonishing grape.
Laura evaluates a wine at Sierra Norte
Sierra  Norte was a bodega I first came across at the sausage fair in February this year and although I have tried the occasional bottle I have not written up my notes since then. Big mistake and unfair on a bodega with a range of excellent wines that deserve a visit and a greater degree of attention from here on in! I concentrated on the Bercial range while my acompañera tried the Fuentesca range as well. The Bercial El Rosado 2009 Premium is a blend of Merlot, Garnacha and Bobal. A crimson pink ( rose with violet edges) clean, bright, with long legs, it was initially pure raspberry on the nose giving way to tropical fruit and smoky notes. Long smooth satisfying finish and one to buy to add the range of rosados to enjoy before the summer is out… probably November!
The Cerro Bercial range and Pasión de Bobal from Sierra Norte.
The Cerro Bercial Clásico Reserva 13.9% ABV 2004  is deep black cherry, with surprisingly medium quick running legs. On the nose black fruit, plums and quite mature fruit. This a blend of Bobal and Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo, the latter having undergone maceración carbonica. The first two grapes undergo a malolactic fermantation in oak before a transfer to new French oak and 2-3 year old French and American oak for the tempranillo. A complicated process but one which produces in the mouth a wine of intensity, bags of black fruit and which is well balanced and  structured but which I feel needs a little more time.
The Pasión de Bobal 2008 has spent six months in oak and comes in at 13.5%ABV. A medium density cherry red with long legs this reminded me initially of a young wine with it´s boiled sweets nose, light summer fruits and youth. However in the mouth it is an easy drinking, fruity long finish wine with cream and vanilla notes.
Unusually for me I went back to try a further white wine. This was the Bercial Blanco Premium, a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Garnacha Blanca. This was a yellow straw colour with gold flashes, clean bright and hiding a huge potential. Of course with this eclectic mix there were tropical fruit notes, citrus, white flowers and those wonderful smells of the French pattisserie! On the palate a creamy long persistent confused but very pleasant mouthful evolved.
The wines from this bodega have a very definite elegant but experimental style about them and this a bodega to watch in coming years for continued innovation. 
I have also written about Covilor wines before, ( Utiel Gastronomica October 2009 ) and it was a pleasure to try a couple of their Altas Cuevas wine range again. The crianza 2007 at 13.5 % ABV  and at 3.5€ a bottle very good value. Of medium density and dark cherry colour, this has good legs, oak, vanilla,  red and black fruits on the nose. On the palate round, balanced, neither tannin nor fruit predominant. Lovely and popular with those members of the Vilamarxant wine club present on the day.
Some of the Alto Cuevas wines from Covilor
The reserva 2006, at 4€  a bottle,  25% of the coupage spent time in French Allier oak as well as American oak   whilst the previous wine had spent time in Indiana rather than Missouri American oak. For me the reserva had a little more of everything, density, flowers,  fruit, jam and oak and particularly on the palate vanilla confirming the influence of the French wood! 
Next we moved on to Bodegas Sebiran, based in Coto Arcis who produce a good range of quality wines, cavas as well as aged reds. We were particularly looking for a Reserva or Gran Reserva style to contrast with some of the more modern styles we had tried previously. Gemma Sánchez Pérez kindly opened a bottle of the 2005 Reserva Sebiran a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Garnacha. 14%ABV, the wine is deep, intense and dark cherry in colour with long legs. On the nose initially closed deep black fruits emerged, mature fruit and in the mouth it was smooth, silky, oaky and with balsamic notes. A wine to keep.
Gemma Sánchez Pérez  and a range of Sebiran wines from Coto Arcis.
From here we moved to Covilor whose wines I had written about after Utiel Gastronomica last October. This small group of producers make a range of wines under the Altas Cuevas label. Still in the search for Reservas we tried the Crianza 2007 first, a 13%ABV wine which sells for 3.50€ a bottle. This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Bobal and Tempranillo which has spent time in Indianan oak rather than the traditional Missouri. A medium density dark cherry in colour with long legs, oak, vanilla and red and black fruits were prominent on the nose. On the palate this is round, very well balanced, and has good fruit. The 2006 Reserva which sells for 4€ a bottle, had about 25% in French oak and the rest in American. From Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon this was deeper in colour with long legs. On the nose  it was at once floral, with sweet fruit, and jammy with a little toffee. On the palate smooth tannins, vanilla, a little soft oak and a little more fruit than the crianza. A very nice wine which showed the influence of French oak in the coupage.
Vera de Estenas is a quality bodega whose wines I have tasted on many occasions in Valencia, Utiel and Requena and whose range I have long admired, from the pure Chardonnay fermentado en barrica, a masculine white wine, through the varietals and the Martinez Bermell range, the merlot from which had been at the `Winegbloggers tasting.´ But there were two wines which had eluded me in the past. First of these was the Casa Don Angel Pure Bobal 2005 Reserva with 18 months in oak and 14%ABV. Luckily this was open on the stand and we were able to taste a great wine albeit chilled because of the heat. Straight away I would concur that this is a wine to keep and which may well be at its best when about 15 years old. From vines with 100 years of age the colour is dark cherry red with a hint of terracotta at the edge, with very long legs showing the high glycerine content. On the nose the toast from the barrel, spices and rich ripe fruit blend harmoniously, and in the mouth it is full bodied, meaty rich with smooth tannins and it opened out nicely to give a long satisfying full fruity finish. This  a truly great wine with potential and I aim to drink it again, hopefully being able to arrange a visit soon and obtaining some bottles for my cellar!
As a bonus the Brut Nature Cava was opened as well.. the second wine to have eluded me so far! At 11.5%ABV this sells for around the 8€ a bottle mark, and is 70% Viura ( Macabeo) and 30% Chardonnay. It is barrel fermented and then spends 18 months en rima. Pale lemon with a good crown, clear and bright with small bubbles persistently rising in straight lines, a touch of yeast and wet wool on the nose, then floral, in the mouth it is beautifully balanced and full. This is a cava to drink with good food.  
To end the second day we visited the stand of Ernesto Carcel, one of the two El Rebollar bodegas. Here I went straight for the 1999 Gran Reserva, 12.5% ABV 100% Bobal and 10€ a bottle. This was garnet with a slightly brick edge, nice long legs. On the nose a mix of ripe red and black fruits and balsamic notes. In the mouth it is smooth, round , velvety nice fruit and lots of life left in the wine…I would give it another 10 years.
Day three commenced and was to end with further visits to Dominio de la Vega where the enthusiastic Raquel Armero started us on an aperitif of the Bobal fermentado en barrica which is so popular amongst all my friends. We also tasted the 2006 Crianza 13.5% ABV which is 60% Bobal and 40% Cabernet and syrah. Deep cherry red with long legs, plum jam on the nose and red and black fruits, it is a soft easy drinker with nice fruit and smooth tannins. This was the prelude to the top wine Arte Mayor a 100% Bobal from La Beata near San Isidros, and a blend of three vintages from the same plot. ( 2004/5/&6) This wine is only made when the finished vintage produces a wine of sufficient, depth, quality and concentration. Bottled in August 2007 it has spent three more years quietly maturing. A deep plummy red with very long slow legs, on the nose deep, spicy plummy concentrated fruit, which after 20 minutes in the glass opened out even further. On the palate it is very approachable, soft smooth tannins ripe rich fruits, pepper, concentrated with a huge potential.
Raquel  then showed us two of the range of Cavas as a precursor to a treat at the end of the fair. First was the Brut Nature Cava 100% Macabeo. Nice and creamy with good bubbles, pale gold in colour. On the nose toasty flavours yeast and fresh bread and on the palate full and fruity, a quality basic cava.
The Brut Reserva Especial is 80% Chardonnay and 20% Macabeo with 20% of the wine having spent two months in oak and then 24 months en rima. This has a huge crown, is a little lighter in colour with gold flashes. On the nose it is creamy and this is carried onto the palate where it is unctuous with a long full finish. A real step up from the basic level but the tease was we were invited to come back at 2pm to try the top of the range Arte Mayor.
Some members of the Vilamarxant wine club with Raquel Armero enjoying wine from Dominio de la Vega.
We next sampled a `bollo´ the traditional bread with sausage and bacon which makes good blotting paper on such occasions before introductions to the group at Bodegas Cueva again.
Typical Bollo and breads from Requena.
Next we tried the wines of Carlos Carcel, currently President of Ferevin and a winemaker of note, also from El Rebollar.
Here we tried the Carlos Carcel Crianza at 14% ABV and 8€ a bottle. A blend of Tempranillo, Bobal, Garnacha and Cabernet sauvignon with 14 months in American oak. This was an even deep cherry red, with long slow legs. On the nose soft red fruits and on the palate full fruity with good depth, a long persistent finish and an easy drinker.
The Reserva Bobal 2001 13.5%ABV  is from a production of just 4116 bottles, is 100% Bobal and has spent two years in wood. A deep cherry red with long coloured legs on the nose mature red and black fruit, balsamic notes,  and on the palate huge, concentrated, smooth tannins with underling soft oak, vanilla, smoke,  pepper and balsamic notes. Another huge traditional style wine for long ageing.
Torres Luna, Bodega y Viñedos are also in the hamlet of Campo Arcis. The finca Los Señoritos is surrounded by pine trees, almonds and aromatic plants. I first tried a Macabeo / Tardana blend (15%) which at 11.3%ABV was from the 2009 vintage. Izan de Luna is pale lemon clean and bright. On the nose it is initially floral then quite full with melon. In the mouth a searingly dry white with good attack, then fuller with more fruit. A balanced long dry finish leaves you wanting a second mouthful of this excellent wine.

Izan de Luna from Torres Luna

The second wine was Crianza, Pradia Noah 2007 a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, and Syrah.This had 12 months in oak, is 13.5% ABV and sells for 7.5€ a bottle. It has a nice deep plum colour, medium to full density and good long legs. On the palate plum jam and the usual red and black fruits, aromatic. In the mouth soft jammy fruit, round and balanced with a persistent fruity finish..very nice.
Finally I tasted the Pradia Noah 100% Syrah, Crianza at 13.5% ABV and with 12 months in the barrel. This a deep black cherry colour of good density and  long straight legs. On the nose liquorice , smoke , spice and pepper underly the characteristics of the grape but with a warm sunny mediterranean edge, and in the mouth that warmth is evident in the fruit, a spicy jammy explosive mouthful which is peppery full bodied and with great balance.
Pradia Noah Crianz from Torres Luna
This is an essentially `family´ fair held in the beautiful Avenida Arrabal with enthusiastic friendly growers who cannot wait to show and explain their wines and philosophy. Visitors are made very welcome and I for one cannot wait for next August. The harvest is being held against a backdrop of economic woe, bad weather and mildew, with many growers telling me it would be a difficult harvest, if indeed they harvested at all. At the back of all this is a proposal to scrap the DO Utiel Requena name and go in with DO Valencia which some of the smaller growers believe has a more marketable name. Frankly I do not accept it and becoming smaller fish in a bigger pond will not make the wine sell more easily…it is not as though the market will itself be bigger for a merger, just more competetive. Utiel Requena with it´s distinct Bobal is a brand worth saving and if some of the smaller growers succumb to market forces, shame though that  would be, that is life!
The crowd enjoying Ferevin 
And so the fair came to an end but not before tasting the Arte Mayor from Dominio de la Vega. A blend of two vintages, 2002 (20%) and 2003 the wine has spent 6 months in new oak (60% French, 40% American) and three years in bottle on the lees. 40% Macabeo and 60% Chardonnay, and from a production of just 4801 bottles this is not just a classy wine but one with real breeding, a luxury cava up there with Unico from Pago de Tharsys and Cuvee Especiál from Sebiran. Golden  with a good crown and fine bubbles, on the nose balsamic notes, cream and toast from the wood. Intense full bodied creamy cava with a persistent very full bodied finish. A blockbuster!
Raquel Armero and the blockbuster cava, Arte Mayor
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