PROAVA 2nd Moscatel and Sweet Wine Fair, Valencia 2011.

    Valencia´s agriculture, food  and wine promotional agency, PROAVA has organised the second annual sweet wine fair showing wines from across DO Valencia in the HQ of the controlling body this weekend. Loosely based around forthcoming St Valentines day and with a slogan along the lines of gifting a sweet wine to the one you love it is nonetheless a good opportunity to sample a number of the well crafted sweet wines and the small cakes which accompany them as well as understanding more of the complete gastronomy of the province.

The fair tends to follow the tasting by Els Bodeguers, an independent group of Wine shops, which selects it´s prize- winners for the year….this time awarding them to Bodegas Xaló, Murviedro and Gandia.

Murviedro are ever-present at fairs across Valencia and have a wide range of serious and commercial wines many of which win prizes. They also sell in the UK in Marks and Spencers and most of the major supermarkets though with slightly  different labels and names to those used here. Knowing the strength of wines to come I somewhat sensibly started with a light frizzante, an 8% Vino de Aguja from Moscatel de Alejandria. This is light and fresh with a nice aromatic moscatel nose,  soft fruit and gentle fizz. Actually very pleasant they are introducing a rosado version which will be available by the end of March for the big Valencia Wine fair in the dry river bed.

A Selection of Mistelas.

 Daniel Belda´s wines are firm favourites and regularly used at tastings I undertake. Anima de Cup is the brand name for the Moscatel produced by the Fontanars based bodega in the Clariano area of  DO Valencia. 14%ABV and naturally fermented the wine shows what Moscatel can produce. unmistakable on the nose with peaches, apricots and honey in the mouth it is deep, very warm and full with a long finish. I tried it with Crujiente, dark chocolate with large chunks of almonds the bitterness of which accompanied the almost cloying nature of the fruit…a wonderful contrast which works well!

Vicente Gandia were showing two wines, the Castillo de Lliria with its newly shaped bottle and re-formatted lable, and the Fusta Nova which was a prize-winner last year. The two are quite different in style. The Castillo de Lliria is pale gold, with 15% ABV, clear bright and with long legs. On the nose the fruit is light and restrained and in the mouth fresh and peachy with a nice warm finish. The Fusta Nova, the luxury dessert wine is deeper gold with more concentrated fruit ( peaches and apricots) honey and in the mouth you can add concentrated marmalade fruit of oranges and mandarines before a long rich very full persistent finish. Loved this with the little coconut cakes which married perfectly!

Cheste Coop wines.

  The Cheste Coop sits next to the railway station in the town near to the A3 Motorway to Madrid, firmly in the Valentino district of DO Valencia and is one of the few working local Coops known for it´s elaboration of Moscatels. Indeed its most famous product is the 8% ABV Reymos, a spumante used for toasts in Valencia. This year they were showing two new products, an even lighter frizzante `Amatista ´at just 5% ABV which is pale lemon, clean and bright with a nice bite from the fizz. On the nose very fruity, almost boiled fruit  banana sweets! In the mouth packed with fruit and light and very easy to drink. The Sol de Reymos is a Dulce Moscatel  with much better yellow colour and very long legs. On the nose quite restrained, a little banana and almost herby. In the mouth an almost medicinal syrup, very warm, full, complex and a hint of nuts at the end. Not my favourite but different in style.

Also very much within the Valentino is the large Coop of Baronia de Turis whose wines I have written up before. As well as the normal wines they sell ( Such as Dona Dolça, Vinamalata and Luna del Mar) they were also showing two Vinos de Licor, one from Malvasia and the other from Moscatel. Of these the first was Cañamar, a Malvasia Dulce of 15%ABV produced by the solera method.

Wines from Baronia de Turis.

 Old gold in colour, nut-brown even, this is a wine with good long legs. On the nose it is subtle, complex and spicy and in the mouth dried fruits, nuts ( hazel nuts and almonds ) make this a very different style of wine, like an aged sherry……very much to my liking especially at a ridiculous 2.5€ a bottle! The Vina San Leandro by contrast is an aged malvasia which spends time in deposit before a short while in wood to round it out. This is a true vi de missa ( or communion wine ).

This is a completely distinct quite  dry raisiny sort of wine,   and one made for a dwindling group of aficionados I suspect! ( actually I believe it has a Papal certificate and is well used worldwide!)Nonetheless it is a traditional and popular wine with a groundswell of support still. It would be a shame if they stopped making it! As a non-catholic I wish it´s future to be long!

For the first time I encountered a wine from the Coop of San Pedro  Apostel from Godelleta. This is a small Coop just off the CV50 on the way to Turis and still in the Valentino district. Their Mistela is very much in the full on style of Moscatel production. 15% ABV it comes in one of those chunky traditional bottles so loved of the area! A very nice deep yellow colour, clean and bright with long legs, on the nose it is fresh and fruity though quite full as it opens out. Powerful with peaches and honey. In the mouth, peaches and a honeyed full round wine, howvever it retains a freshness and is not as cloying as some mistelas. Without fear of contradiction a wine for the little pastries stuffed with jams and compotes which it complements perfectly and at 2€ a bottle from the Coop shop you can´t go wrong!

Pedro Ximinez Vino de Licor and Moscatel from Bodegas El Villar.

  Also in the Valentino but this time up the Turia valley in the Town of Villar d´Arzobispo is the Bodega El Villar, a Coop which recently underwent major reform and modernisation. They were showing their Vino de Licor Pedro Ximinez, which is a raisiny dark versatile wine perfect with nuts, dried fruits and puddings, but which is also an excellent  substitute in cookery for marsala etc. 

The Moscatel is a similarly full on style of mistela. Both are available from the bodega´s new shop on the main road into Villar next door to Consum and Bodegas Comeche at around 2€ a bottle …and about half the price if you buy five litres in a plastic bottle!

Returning to the Clariano Bodegas Enguera from the town of the same name were showing their Verdil de Gel or ice wine, 9% ABV and from the Verdil grape. In dry whites this variety produces a fresh expressive wine with some Blanc  characteristics. Concentrated in crio-maceration the wine is a pale lemon yellow, clean and bright with long legs. On the nose expressive and fruity and in the mouth nice acidity balances a pear fruit flavour and a nice long finish. Very much one of the modern style wines which are growing in stature.

Also present this year was the Asosiació de Defensors del Moscatell de la Marina Alta , a group dedicated to preserving this style of sweet wine which is undergoing a hard time in the market. They had a huge selection of bottles of espumosos, dry whites, sweet whites, mistelas, vinos de licor and vermouths, all of which are traditionally produced across the community, often by small producers. There was an opportunity to sign up to support the organisation and i cannot but feel the best support would be for people to buy more of these relatively cheap quality products.

The decline in the market did seem to be reinforced in a smaller turnout of producers, and  seemingly smaller number of wines to try. It is an area of the market that warrants support and better publicity and a wider knowledge amongst the public of what is produced.

Godelleta´s Mistela.

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