Asociación Primum Bobal, the `Jewel in the Crown´ Gets Its Own Quality Mark.

The Logo for the New Association.

Bobal, Utiel-Requena´s very own grape, unique to the region and potentially one of the most versatile quality producing varieties in the world  now has its own `quality mark´. Thursday 10 March saw the launch of the new association `Primum Bobal´which has been created by seven of the top bodegas from the area.

The launch was held at the Requena wine school and technical institute itself a leading producer of top quality wine-makers over recent years. Some of them are actively involved in the project.

President of the Association is Felíx Martinez Roda, owner of Vera de Estenas, and he welcomed the guests invited to the launch. The seven bodegas and their top wines bearing the new logo on their bottles were:-

  • Vera de Estenas, Casa Don Angel Bobal,
  • Pasiego, Bobal 2005,
  • Pagos de Molino, Arras de Bobal 2004
  • Chozas Carrascal, Las Dosces
  • Dominio de la Vega, Arte Mayor 2005
  • Finca Ardal,Ocho Cuerdas Bobal  2005
  • Dagon, Miquelius.

The Association´s Members.

  The Association is led by Félix Martinez Roda of Vera de Estenas together with, Julian Lopez of Chozas carrascal, Luis Gil-Orozco of Finca Ardal, Emilio Esposito of Dominio de la Vega, Daniel Esposito of Pagos de Molino, Jose-Luis Salon of Pasiego and  Miguel Marquez of Bodegas Dagon. Each of the bodegas is a small to medium property with limited production dedicated to quality and not to quantity.

Each of the bodegas is dedicated to understanding its soil, or terroir, and controlling the entire process from planting to harvest and bottling all done within the bodega. All use Bobal either on its own or in a blend with other varieties, are family concerns rather than large commercial interests and are pooling their resources, knowledge and expertise as a team to better the area as a whole.

It is hoped that the initiative will eventually spread to other bodegas who share the passion and the vision, as well as improving the world-wide recognition of  Utiel-Requena  as a wine-growing area, and a producer of quality wines.

Like all good quality marks the presentation of a smart new label and logo is only just the beginning of the process.

To this end the Association is working with the University of Vallallodid and the University Polytechnic of Valencia in research projects to better understand the variety, the soil, the best yeasts to ferment the wine as well as promoting wine as a healthy food and commercially to build Bobal as a strong brand for the area.

 Each of the members spoke briefly about the project before Pere Mercado ( spokesperson for the group) detailed the thinking behind the logo and presented a slide show of the member bodegas, their soils etc.

The Tasting Table.

       Following the formal presentation the guests descended into the old cellars of the institute for an informal tasting of the seven wines which will initially wear the new label and logo of Primum Bobal.

There was no particular order as each wine stands very much on its own. I started with Las DosCes which is a blend of 51% Bobal, 39% Tempranillo and 10% Syrah and which is 13.5% ABV. Deep cherry red with long legs and a violet edge, on the nose quite sharp red fruit, soft oaky toasty notes and hints of balsamicos. In the mouth the wine is fresh, quite intense, smooth with a good long finish full of damsons and plums.

Second wine was the 2006 Bobal from Vera de Estenas which formed part of the tasting in last weeks post. This is 100 Bobal and 14.5% ABV, a deep cherry red with the blue edge so characteristic of the grape. On the nose mature red and black fruit, elegant and smooth with notes of oak from the crianza. In the mouth very round with liquorice and coffee.

Third of the seven was the Arte Mayor 2004 ,14% ABV  also a pure Bobal from Dominio de la Vega. This is a remarkably consistent wine and very deep purple in colour, and is very open and fruity. On the nose huge hints of damsons and plums, powerful with fruits of the forest as well, minerals oak and balsamicos. In the mouth this was possibly the most forward of all the wines. Liquorice , fruit, a huge powerful body and structure, elegant and spicy with a very long finish.

Fourth wine was the Ocho Cuerdas of Finca Ardal, 14% and from 2005. A medium density ruby-red with long legs. On the nose this needed aeration, as it was quite closed, showing only a little red and black fruit and rather more oak from the crianza.In the mouth hints of coffee and liquorice with astringency, quite tannic full-bodied but lacking balance. Needs longer .

Arras de Bobal from Pagos de Molino.

Next was the Arras de Bobal from Daniel Esposito who makes wine for Dominio de la Vega but also has his own small vineyard and `garage´bodega Pagos de Molino. This is a table wine rather than DO but as we have come to learn some of the best wines are sometimes outside the rules of the DO! This was a deep dark red with long legs. On the nose chocolate, coffee, notes from the crianza of lacteos and in the mouth chocolate, tannin, leather, plums, dried figs, very complex with spices ( clove). 14.5% ABV and a wine to revisit…wonderful!

Last of the conventional reds was the Pasiego 2005 at 14% ABV which is a blend of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Bobal and 20% of Tempranillo. Fermentation by variety takes place in stainless steel before 14 months of crianza. A medium density cherry red in colour on the nose many different touches of wood, coffee, vanilla and cream, a little leather. In the mouth blackberry, tannin then smooth and elegant. Very nice!

Miquelius from Bodegas Dagon.

Final wine in the tasting was the Miquelius from Bodegas Dagon of Venta del Moro. I first tasted a sweeter version of this wine from a different vintage at the Certamen del Venta del Moro last October and have not seen it since… is a very small production, available from the bodega or as a rare treat at the Ritz in London!

This  wine caused quite a stir as I suspect it was new to a number of those present. Miguel Marquez has produced a wine from late harvested grapes with a degree of pasification ( the harvest starts when everybody else has finished!) which has all the qualities and characteristics of a rich old oloroso sherry, a wine of intense character, flavour and style.

A deep dark rusty colour, with very long legs. On the nose dried grapes, sultanas, raisins, lots of dried fruit and with the style of a good Pedro Ximinez…in fact you could be fooled very easily into thinking that this was what it was! In the mouth all the potential was released with a degree more sweetness than the nose had predicted.

This is a wine to obtain and lovingly put away because it has a long future ahead of it and will pay you back many times as it ages in bottle!

And what a versatile wine it proved to be over the lunch which followed!

Following the presentation and tasting we were driven to Dominio de la Vega for a celebratory lunch at the bodega.

Dining Room at Dominio de la Vega.

Here we were able to ask questions informally of the members of the association whilst we enjoyed a superb lunch prepared by Requena´s Restaurante Fiesta. We also enjoyed the seven wines which had been the basis of the earlier tasting, this time  matching them with local cuisine such as Güeña ( a local sausage) in a puré of mango and onion, perro, morcilla and chorizo…all also local varieties of sausage followed by an arroz melloso de pueblo….a rice dish with more stock giving it a risotto style and then a smoked pancetta with potato, truffles and artichoke served on toasted bread.

Finally we finished with a Bobal Floral, different in that the sorbets were made from Bobal and were served with fresh red and black fruits.

Bobal Floral.

You may think this was an ideal match for the Miquelius and indeed it was. Curiously I noticed Miguel and his family were drinking his wine throughout the meal and more than once he offered me some of his wine to try with the previous courses. To me it seemed a perfect match with each of the previous courses as well!

And so the day came to an end and we returned to Valencia.

The Association has much to be proud of in commencing this immense and worthwhile enterprise which deserves support from all, especially at a difficult time for the wine industry on which so many people in the area depend!

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  • Piet  On March 13, 2011 at 8:44 am

    great news for the Bobal!

    interestingly I always thought that Las Dosces was made of 2 grapes only, hence the name… But you write that it is made of Bobal, Tempranillo and Syrah.

    • rikiwigley  On March 13, 2011 at 11:22 am

      Hi Piet,
      Sat with a bottle of the 2008 in front of me, helpful back label confirms the blend as described….confusing eh?


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