Around and About ( The Early November Tastings) In Valencia.

Conservas Don Bocarte at Las Añadas.

The tastings came fast  and furious this week making it the busiest beginning to a month so far! First up was an almuerzo at Las Añadas on Tuesday morning, this time paired the seafood from Don Bocarte, the Cantabrican  producer from Northern Spain. Top  quality anchovies were served with a slice of fresh cheese, Bonito del Norte on bread, Jibión del Cantabrico ( squid cooked in its own ink from a 1968 recipe ) and Octopus legs, cooked to perfection and just waiting to be sliced with pimenton or served with oil and parsley.

The company uses fresh seasonal catches of these and other seafood products, conducts all cleaning by hand then processes with entirely natural ingredients to ensure a quality product ready for use by the cook. None of the produce is frozen at any point.

The seafood, all of it  absolutely tender and ready was served with DO Cava from the Requena house of  Vera de Estenas.  Those present at the breakfast were treated to a detailed explanation of Don Bocarte´s company philosophy as well as being able to talk to the affable Felix Martinez, owner of Vera de Estenas who came to see for himself how his cava formed the perfect `maridaje´ with  the seafood available. All the products are available from Las Añadas extensive delicatessen on Xativa in Valencia as is the cava.

DO Jumilla, the controlling body for these wines

Wines from Casa De La Ermita, DO Jumilla.

from Murcia also hosted a public tasting this week in the SH Valencia Palace Hotel. Some 20 or so bodegas from the DO were exhibiting their wines and I decided to look at around four of them rather than go around randomly sampling an odd wine here and there.  

I started with BSI Bodegas San Isidro from the town of Jumilla, a Coop whose past has been varied. Originally founded in 1943 by around 50 members it grew until the 80´s-90´s by which time it had expanded to 2000 members. An internal crisis led the company to restructure, shed members and establish a philosophy of quality of product. The bodega today progresses well.

I looked at two wines from the Gémina range, both pure Monastrell the regional grape variety. The first was the 2005 Cuvée Selecíon at 14%ABV which has undergone a crianza of 6 months in French oak. This was garnet, of medium density and had good legs. On the nose red and black fruits and a touch of balsamics. On the palate this is an easy to drink wine, smooth, a good quaffer with just a hint of oak at the end. By contrast the Gémina Premium Reserva also 14% ABV was a little lighter in colour, with long legs. On the nose softer, sweeter and with plums. In the mouth this translated to nice jammy fruit, smooth tannins and a satisfying long finish.

I have tried occasional bottles from the better known Casa De La Hermita also from Jumilla. Together with old vines from Tempranillo and Monastrell they make wines from Viognier, Syrah, Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot.

Wines from Bodegas San Isidro

In the North of the El Carche natural park and at 750m above sea level they produce ecological wines. The bodega is surrounded by it´s vineyards adding to the natural beauty.

First wine from here was the white, 2010 and straight from the deposit! This is 100% pure Viognier and was pale lemon with gold flashes and good legs. On the nose tropical fruits, huge, with a full nose redolent of boiled sweets. In the mouth full apricot fruit, not a restrained viognier at all and a long full excellent finish. Highly recommended!

Next up was a light red from Monastrell and Petit Verdot. Roble 2009 at 13.5% ABV is cherry red, good legs and medium body. On the nose big green pepper and some red fruit. In th mouth light, smooth and with a good finish.  The Crianza 2007 at 13.5% was 60% Monastrell and 40% Petit Verdot. Also light cherry red this had a nice oaky nose, again was light in style with a smooth long dry finish.

Pie Medauna 2006 at 14.5% ABV is 50% each of Monastrell and Petit Verdot from 80 year old vines.This was a deeper cherry red with very long legs. On the nose mature cherry fruit was joined by plum jam. In the mouth immediately fruity then lean with oak and pepper. A nice long finish.

Next I tried the 100% Petit Verdot, 2006 with 13% ABV and 13 months in barrica. Deep ruby red with very long legs which colour the glass. On the nose initially closed then opening slowly, nice black fruit, spice light wood and smooth tannins. This is a wine to keep as indeed is the 2004 which I love. They will both go with game and strong flavoured meat dishes.

Finally I tried the 100% Monastrell Dulce, a sweet red from late picked grapes. 2008 and 14.5%ABV. To the eye, a nice deep garnet with legs that slithered down the glass like a slow worm. On the nose sweet with natural sugars and grape juice. In the mouth concentrated, full and a wine for Foie, blue cheese or pure chocolate! To look out for!

The wines from Silvano Garcia also looked worth a try. Founded in 1925 and with a reputation for making the best Dulce wines with multiple prize winning appearances in competitions since 2001 this was an opportunity to see what all the fuss was about. Actually I started with the dry white, a 2009 Macabeo. Pale lemon in colour with pale gold flashes and long legs. On the nose nice  green apple, melon and tropical fruits. In the mouth quite light, dry and appley with a nice smooth finish. The Rosado from 2009 is for drinking next year and improves with a year or two in bottle. !00% Monastrell and 13% ABV it was pale rose, clean and bright. On the nose unashamedly strawberry fruit and in the mouth nicely balanced with a fresh attack and good finish.

Wines and olive oils from Hacienda Pinar

The tinto Joven Viñahonda 2009 Monastrell was ruby red with good youthful look and on the nose was very fruity with blackberry and red plum and a touch of pepper. In the mouth the sense of youth persisted, peppery but smooth with a warm spicy long finish.

The Viñahonda Crianza has spent 8 months in 1st and 2nd year oak 60 % French, the rest American. It is a blend of Monastrell Cabernet sauvignon and Tempranillo. Ruby to garnet in colour and medium bodied. On the nose initially oaky, but with nice fruit, in the mouth very smooth mature red and black fruits, and a nice finish.

And so to the prizewinning dulces and first the Moscatel. From a limited edition 2009 bottling of 50cl formats, and 15%ABV. Pale gold with bright flashes, on the nose powerful, full on tropical fruit, peach apricots and honey. On the palate smooth, long , honeyed, apricoty and ….lovely! The Monastrell Dulce from 2008, also limited edition 50cl format and 15% ABV. Deep ruby red with very long legs. On the nose olives, powerful and very concentrated. In the mouth full, jammy, sweet with a powerful intense long finish. Very satisfying and a wine to look out for. (Available from the Jumilla on line wine shop.)

An interesting comparative tasting which sadly did not allow for more on the night due to another tasting this time of wines from Alsace.

Keintz Cremant D´Alsace

 Samuel Poullain was on hand to guide a small group of professionals through the new releases from René Kientz, the Alsace winery on Tuesday evening at VinsKM.0 whose shop contains some interesting imported wines.

On arrival a glass of Kientz Cremant DÀlsace Brut was proffered, very pale wiyth a light green edge. On the nose fresh with white flowers and in the mouth good fresh attack with a hint of sherbert, quite full for a Northern sparkler and very refreshing!

Alsace is one of those districts of France which has passed between German and French ownership over the centuries. All that adversity has worn off leaving Alsace with a bit of a complex….complex varietal wines which are neither french nor German entirely and frankly ( no pun intended ) you either love them or hate them! The wines are classified by style and not by district so the AOC Alsace is very different to the DO system in Spain. Principally wines are made from Sylvaner ( light entry level wines ) Pinot Blanc and Riesling for delicate whites, Muscatel de Alsace for dry fuller whites, Tokay Pinot gris for opulent full whites with character , Pinot Noir for light fruity reds to go with venison and charcuterie and Gewurtztraminer for robust whites to live up to everything else!

The French expect to taste the soil, or in this case stone in their wines rather than the spanish who are now looking for maximum extraction of fruit, flavour and concentration so this made this an interesting and different tasting hard on the heels of that from Jumilla!

The Sylvaner 2009 was pale lemon clear and bright. Light on the nose, slightly sherberty but in the mouth nice acid, balanced light fruit and essentially a minerally long dry finish. The 2009 Riesling 12.5%ABV is from very flinty soil. Pale gold, clear and bright on the nose citrus,grapefruit and melon with the faintest hint of hydrocarbons ( petrol .) In the mouth nice ripe fruit balanced by light fresh acidity which was perfectly balanced…elegant and with finesse.

The winery has a 300 year old tradition of winemaking, using very old large wooden barrels ( foudres ) which are for ageing rather than imparting flavour. They have just invested money in a new pneumatic press, new stainless steel vats, and updated their labels, important in a competetive market.

Next we tasted the 2007 Grand Cru Riesling Kientz Wintzerburg. Lemon, clear and bright, this was less minerally and more petrolly on the nose, concentrated with lemon and a hint of coffee. In the mouth spicy even a hint of ginger… a truly lovely wine. As indeed was the Gewurtztraminer 2009 at 13.5%ABV. Clean bright with good legs on the nose lychees , roses, spice very aromatic with a hint of cinnamon. In the mouth lovely, full, rich, ripe, spicy and seductive…for me the wine of the night.

Avalability through Vins KM.0 at or 963283024 in Valencia (Russafa).

Finally Hipercor´s latest offering was a tasting of the reds from Aranleón, the Venta del Moro  winery with vineyards in Venta del Moro, La portera ( both Utiel Requena ) and access to Monastrell from Fontanars. Maria Sancho led us through the tasting which was very interesting and popular with those attending.

Maria Sancho and the Bogeoga´s winemaker.

First wine was Blés, a wine named after the local plant which grows between the vines and lives harmoniously with them. The 2007 is a new wine, about to be introduced to the market. DO Valencia rather than Utiel Requena on the grounds of the Monastrell from outside the latter DO. This is blended with Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon to give a wine of 14%ABV. A nice cherry red of medium density with good legs. The wine needed a little time to open out, but when it did there were red and black fruits and herbs. In the mouth it is easy to drink , creamy and smooth, with blackberry fruit and smooth tannins. A nice addition to the range!

Aranleón Solo 2007 has enjoyed 13 months crianza and is a blend of Bobal, Tempranillo and Syrah. More ruby red with a slightly violet edge and good legs. On the nose fruits of the forest , intense, and in the mouth elegant with figs, minerally full, long warm satisfying finish. The 2003 was the debut vintage of this wine and for a couple of years the only wine produced by the then  new bodega.

Finally we tasted the Arbol Blanco, currently the bodegas best wine and the one which reflects most the style and philosophy of the property. From 2005 and 14-14.5% ABV and a blend of 20% each of Bobal, Tempranillo, Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. This has spent 18 months in Hungarian oak and is from vines near La Portera, nearer to Requena. Deep black cherry in colour, long slow legs colour the glass. On the nose cherries and plums, in the background a hint of cigarette box ( cedar). In the mouth very full and very approachable now, powerful with potency, initial sweetness and a wine with a long future ahead of it.

The tasting was worth attending just for this wine, awarded 92 points in the guia Penin 2008.

And what does this week hold? Well Alicante is holding `Lomejordegastronomia´this weekend and early next week with a range of bodegas and catering outlets from Spain and abroad, there is a visit to a cava bodega lined up for Tuesday and doubtless Saturday´s tasting of wines from Cherubino Valsangiacoma will be interesting too!

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