Utiel Gastronomica 2010. A Fair Not to Be Missed!

Utiel Gastronomica, Utiel´s riposte to Requena´s wine and sausage fairs is a showcase for the gastronomy of the region but one which generously allows guests from different parts of Spain and even France to showcase their wares. Moreover it is not just a fair on a single site as several bars in the town offer a tapa typical of the region during the event, thus drawing visitors into the town itself to see more than just the Paseo d’ Alameda where the bulk of the action takes place.


Ready for the off!

 This years fair took place in  bright sunny weather in stark comparison to last years chilly event when attendance was badly hit.

We started by sampling the mortuerelo ( Valencia´s paté ) ajoarriero ( cod and potato) and morro all produced by one of the two housewives associations and some pisto on bread from one of the local bakers washed down with  generous glasses  of the local Coop´s Rosado and Tinto, both fresh and perfectly acceptable.
This year Vicente Gandia, the giant bodega whose HQ is nearby at Hoya de Cadenas and whose huge bottling plant is in Chiva were exhibiting a good range of the companies products. This is actually the first time I had had the opportunity to sample so many of their wines at the same time. Vicente Gandia is a legend in Valencia, a founder of a company which goes from strength to strength, an innovator and a visionary who saw the way the Valencian wine industry had to develop.
First wine we tried was the Hoya de Cadenas Chardonnay2009, at 12.5%ABV. Not a wine I had tried before it was pale gold, clean and bright. On the nose apples and tropical fruits and floral notes abound. In the mouth buttery, a hint of vanilla, nice soft fruit and a long dry full finish. The wine sells for 3.25€ and is a lovely example of the grapes characteristics. Second wine was the Fusta Nova from a range of wines with this name.

Range of wines from Vicente Gandia

The blanco 2009 is 45% Chardonnay, 20% Moscatel and 35% Sauvignon Blanc. Chardonnay here adds the body and structure to the wine whilst the Sauvignon Blanc adds acidity and the Moscatel all of the aromatics. On the nose the floral notes are elderflower, with peach, and Apricot. In the mouth nice, fresh fruit is balanced with good acidity in an elegant long finish. A very nice wine.
El Miracle Music from Syrah and Garnacha is subtitled a `chill out´ wine from a lifestyle range.
A  joven from 2009 and 12.5%ABV This was a nice light rose coloured wine, clean and bright with long slow legs. On the nose it was all boiled sweets and red berries and in the mouth concentrated redcurrant  with another long and satisfying finish.
Before moving on to the reds we sampled another wine from the Fusta Nova range, this time a mistela, the legendary sweet moscatel which traditionally accompanies valencian cakes and biscuits. A multi award winning wine which I last sampled in February at the sweet wines fair it is 15% ABV and has spent three months in French, Allier, oak. A golden yellow wine with good legs,it is brilliant and clear. On the nose honey vies with a hint of citrus,  peaches and apricots and just a hint of vanilla. In the mouth it is unctuous without being too cloying, full fruity and honeyed. Nicely balanced!

Generacion Uno, Homage to Vicente Gandia

First of the reds was Élite 2007 a blend of 85% Bobal and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and selected from the best 100 casks. Surprisingly it was only 7.5€ a bottle. Again the Cabernet Sauvignon is in the blend for the structure it adds to the wine. A deep dark wine, with a light purple edge, a hint at the Bobal in the blend, with long legs. On the nose complex,with fruits of the forest, plum, concentrated with a hint of green pepper. In the mouth jammy fruit, not too concentrated, nicely balanced with a full finish.  

Next we tried `Bo´ a 100% Bobal and Gandia´s answer to some of the young concentrated wines being produced now such as Olivastro and by Dominio de la Vega. From 2008,  13.5%ABV and around 9€ a bottle it was a pure purple colour, of medium density and with long legs colouring the glass. On the nose there is concentrated fruit, particularly blackberry and is quite subtle. However in the mouth I found it lighter than I expected, leaner and not quite balanced.

Generación 1, a wine for ageing is homage to Vicente Gandia, the bodegas founder. A blend of 70% Bobal, and 15% each of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon it sells for 20€ and is 13%ABV. From the 2006 vintage and selected from the best 80 barricas from the best parcels of wine it is a `vino de autor´. Deep black cherry with long legs it oozes damsons and plums, black fruits and has a very full concentrated nose. In the mouth it is silky smooth, with lovely concentrated black fruit and elegant long finish. This a truly good wine and worth a try.

Finally we enjoyed a palate cleanser with the Hoya de Cadenas DO Cava Brut Nature at 11.5% ABV. From 100% Macabeo. Pale lemon yellow with fine bubbles and a good crown it has a nice yeasty, toasty nose. On the palate a little floral, light, nice acidity but a little short on the finish.

Wines and patés from Pertuis in the French Luberon

 One of the guest exhibitors was from France and more specifically from the Luberon. Pertuis were exhibiting a range of patés from Hare, venison, rabbit, wild boar ,pheasant etc, vegetable pastes and three wines from the family property. Produced by Guy Coquillat from Chateau Arnoux in the Alpes de Haute Provence these pates had a rougher texture more like terrines but lovely concentrated flavours and are perfect for aperitif biscuits.Each sold for just 2.5€ a 135gram tin.  The wines were interesting with a white from grenache blanc and mourvedre, light and fresh, a classic provencal rose from grenache with its pure onion skin colour, a buttery aftertaste but one which invited you back for more. The 2008 red, also from grenache was a pale cherry red with cherries on the nose and in the mouth. Light, fruity but satisfying!


Cheese and Sobrasada from the Balearic Isles

Amongst the cheese producers were Quesos Cati the world award winning cheese makers, and guest producers   Quesera del Zancara with a wonderful old cheese wrapped in rosemary amongst others and cheeses from Mahon on Menorca and Sobrasada the wonderful pork and pimentón paste from Mallorca   Also guesting were Montilla-Moriles , the Cordoba based DO for sherry style wines, who had a lovely  all dry nutty and salty fino to taste with exhibitions of the traditional pouring method.

We passed on to  Bodegas Covilor the Cuevas de Utiel based Coop whose wines  I reviewed in August at Ferevin in Requena. Their Cuevas range of wines are all good value for money and on this occasion I tried the rosado, a pure bobal from 2009 which is fresh, light and an easy drinker.

Venta del Moro is home to Oleícos del Cabriel whose olive groves in the Hoces de Cabriel national park I had visited and written about very recently. At the time Marta Navarro Cañas had told me they had entered their ecological virgen extra olive oil `Aurora Real´ in a competition in Madrid. She and brother  Luis were busily promoting their olive oil at the fair but found time for a long chat during which it emerged that their oil had won the gold medal…..an astounding feat for a first entry into a competion and testament to the genuinely superb quality of this local oil!

Marta Navarro Cañas of Oleícos de Cabriel, award winning ecological olive oil producers!

Also from Venta del Moro was the local Bodega Latorré whose wines were reviewed after the `Certamen del Vino´during the towns fiesta in August. ( See earlier post). That night I had chatted at some length to the marketing manager and this time I was introduced to the bodega´s enologist. We tasted the current Parreño blanco a golden yellow macabeo  which is reaching the end of it´s shelf life but remains a nice easy drinker. Straight from the deposit he had brought the 2010 version of this wine which has just finished fermenting and is still cloudy. This Vino Turbio is from Macabeo mixed with Verdejo and is 11.5% ABV. On the nose it was full of fennel, a characteristic of Macabeo, melon and tropical fruits. Light on the palate then nice fruit and a good finish. This will be a nice wine and I look forward to tasting it when it is cleared and bottled.

Next we sampled the Parreño Rosado a pure Bobal. This had a lovely strawberry colour with good legs. On the nose lovely strawberry nose and on the palate red fruit, beautiful acid and good depth with balanced acidity. Another wine to add to next summers drinking list! Finally we tried the top of the range Duque de Arcas 2001 Bobal Gran Reserva at 13.5% ABV. THis is very much the old gran reserva style of wine! Garnet of medium density and with long legs, the nose has a touch of astringency from the oak and blackberry fruit. On the palate a full bodied with hints of balsamics and full spirity dry finish.  Old style it may be but none the worse for it!

And so our visit for 2010 came to an end. We never did have time to go around the town and try the tapas but maybe that was because we stayed and tried the Gazpacho Manchego, a classic stew of mountain rabbit and further goodies from the housewives association stall. And we could have tried a huge range of cheese cakes, fruit tarts, bunuelos and other offerings from producers. After a last palate cleanser of Murviedro´s Luna de Murviedro 100% Garnacha cava rosado we slipped away and returned to Valencia. This really is a fair to be visited and fortunately does not close at lunchtime allowing sampling to continue uninterrupted from 10.30am until into the evening…a much more civilised affair!

Gazpacho Manchego with mountain rabbit.

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