News From the Valencia Wine and Food Fair, 2011.

Cooking Arroz Abanda.

 Sitting down this morning it is hard to believe that this years wine and food fair in Valencia is over and that just the cleaning up remains to be done! Having attended on four of the five days and enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the food and wines of Valencia this fair really does give you a good feeling for the region. No sign of any crisis here either, although many of the bodegas have had a  hard time in the last twelve months, some even laying off staff, many of the representatives were very upbeat reporting good interest from restaurants and strong sales! And we really must not forget that food plays almost as big a part of the fair with some 34 different producers exhibiting and being supported by the controlling bodies of the rice, chufa and olive oil communities.

One of the Traditional Embutidos Stalls.


The Cofradia of Arroz de Valencia provided a take away service throughout the fair offering generous plates of either paella, arroz al horno or arroz abanda and the equivalent from Xativá were offering their arroz passejat for around 3.50€ a plate.

The fair is a showcase for the traditional sausages from the area, chorizos, embutidos, longanizas and sobrasada and seven different stalls were dotted around the fair offering these on taste together with other specialities. New to the fair this year were firms from Utiel, Muro de Alcoy and from Valencia, Linea Vercher showed a new style of presentation by turning them into burgers! Very popular they were judging by the queues which lasted the entire  fair!

World renowned local cheese makers, Granja Rinya, Quesos de Cati and Romero Gozalbez together with San Antonio and La Sabina provided a large range of sheep and goats cheeses with differing periods of curing.

One of three honey producers.

  Three separate honey producers had stalls offering a huge range of honey´s, honey related products and other health foods. The chocolate producer Comes from Sueca offered their range of products and there were numerous bread and pastisserie products, cheesecakes, sweets, and ice creams.

Three other products deserve specific mention. My favourite olive oil producer Oleícos del Cabriel from Venta del Moro had teamed up with new producer, Che Que Foie from Navarres. This marriage made in heaven of  mi-cuit duck foie, or terrina de foie mi-cuit with either orange, caviar, membrillo, carob and hazlenut, slices of jamon   or truffle were  outstanding drizzled with a little oil over a biscuit. I look forward to visiting this firm shortly to report further on their natural production methods.

Second worthy of special mention are micro-brewery Tyris whose premises are in Riba-Roja and who produce three bottled beers in the English style, natural and alive in the bottle! Tyris, Valencia India Pale Ale and Riu Rau an Irish red style beer are all full of flavour with malt and hops. I visited the brewery last week and a separate post will follow.

Cooking Clochina´s, Valencias Mussells.

Probably the most popular product at the fair judging by the length of a constant queue were the clochinas from Emilio whose premises are in Calle Reina not far from the Paseo Maritimo. A ración of this traditional dish from Valencia was 4.5€ again for a generous plate and the staff were engaged in a five-day marathon cleaning and cooking great pans of very tasty mussels!

For those who picked up their  leaflet there is a 15% discount on purchases from the shop until 31 May.

And the complete marriage made in heaven was a plate of these washed down with a glass of the award-winning Finca Collado 2010 Blanco from the stand almost next door….more of this later!

Turning to the bodegas and the huge range of wines on offer this year saw two notable improvements at the fair. First of these was the tunnel of wine, previously a tunnel of sensations. Here professionals could if they wished enjoy a tasting of many different wines in a separately reserved area to which this year had been added a selection of top quality Valencian olive oils to compare.

Second and more importantly there was recognition that there are a large number of English speakers visiting the fair and far more of the information was available in English as well as Valencian or Castellano.

This fair is always an opportunity for professionals to catch up with friends in the trade and taste new releases as well as familiarising themselves with the widest range of wines available for tasting anywhere in Valencia during the year.

Bodegas 40 Grados Norte.

  And for the public and professional alike there are always wines from new bodegas to try which shows there is still life in the industry despite the crisis.

One new bodega and winner of second prize in the Tinto Reservas category is Bodegas 40 Grados Norte, based in Fontanars and making wine within  the DO Valencia. Actually the bodega has a history going back to 1966 when Pascual Martin started up in Castellon. Today the bodega is under the control of three of his grandchildren, Alejandro Martin Benlloch and David and Jorge Mocholi Martin. They have vineyards in Siete Aguas, Godelleta and the Sierra Espadan.

They were showing three reds, Cota Ocho Treinta 2007, Mar de Sao 2008 and a barrel sample syrah which will be in the next blend of  Mar de Sao.

The Ocho Treinta, a blend of Bobal, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon is deep and shows high glycerine content judging by the long slow legs. On the nose the wine is full of eucalyptus and liquorice, clove and toasted notes. In the mouth round, fat and full with  smooth tannins and creamy notes. A long fruity finish shows mature plums. It is 13.5% ABV and  has spent 18 months in French oak.

The Mar de Sao has 55% Shiraz, 20% Bobal and 25% Tempranillo and is 13.5% ABV. This has spent six months in French and Hungarian oak and is bright cherry red with a violet edge. A very fruity nose ( red and black wood fruits) . In the mouth the toasty and balsamic notes show the crianza and the wine is fresh, fruity and has a minerally touch.

The syrah from the barrel, also 13.5% ABV is a nice ruby-red, with raspberry and black fruits on the nose. In the mouth it shows as quite full, vanilla , hints of wood and a full round long finish with spice!

A bodega to watch and another to visit!

Wines from Bodegas Arraez.

  Winner of the category for whites fermented in barrel was Alvarez Nölting from Fontanars for their 2010 Chardonnay. We tried this next , a wine of 12.5% ABV. Pale yellow, clean and bright, with long legs. Served quite chilled it was a little closed on the nose initially but in the mouth nice tropical fruits, very smooth with notes of crianza and creamy.

 Another Bodega with a bright future is Bodegas Arraez who come from Font de la Figuera, also DO Valencia. Their cava had been a hit at the Cava fair in December.

Mala Vida Tinto is one of their reds and we tried this first. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Tempranillo and Monastrell the wine is 13.5%ABV with eight months in French and American oak. Cherry red, medium density and with good legs this has fresh red fruits on the nose. In the mouth it is full, rich, has a freshness with smooth tannins and good fruit. One of those wines which invites you back for a second taste!

The Lagares 2009 is 14% ABV and from the 2009 vintage. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, it has spent 13 months in French oak. Garnet, of medium density and with good legs. One of those wines which combines good red and black fruit with notes of crianza, toast, vanilla, a little coffee, and which in the mouth is full of fruit. Once the building work is complete this is another bodega to visit later this year!

Wines from Celler Cataruz.

   Two more new wines from Celler Cataruz from Venta del Moro, a project of Coqué Ruz and Nacho Catalán, the former also a distributor of wines ( Q de Vinos) and with an interest in La Querencia restaurant in Valencia ( venue for the next Vino-Valencia event).
First wine was Mal Criat a joven from 2010,  a blend of  Merlot and Garnacha at 13.5% ABV. Cherry red with good legs, medium density, with a nice mix of red fruits on the nose, light fruity but warm with a hint of violets! In the mouth fruity, round, good body, full but not too complex and an easy drinker.
Second was Melic a blend of Bobal and Merlot from 2009 with five months Crianza. Nice deep black cherry, with long legs, red and black fruits on the nose and in the mouth, a touch of barrica which quickly is replaced by good fruit and passes easily across the palate. Good with game and rice or meat dishes.
4.50€ and 7.50€ a bottle respectively.
Next we visited the stand of Casa de las Vides a bodega from Agullent and DO Valencia.

More Stands at the Fair.

 Four wines were on show here. First was a white, Vall Blanca a 13%ABV from Verdil, Macabeo, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer! Yellow, clean and very bright with long legs. On the nose very distinct and expressive, white fruits, pear, apricots and membrillo! In the mouth it is well structured the fruit and acidity perfectly balanced giving a wine which would suit two different palates being neither too fruity nor dry but with sufficient of each characteristic.
Second wine was the Vino Rosado from Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon. 13.5%ABV this is a strong rose/raspberry  colour with immense legs and a violet edge. On the nose ripe red fruits, herbs, and in the mouth beautifully round, with a crisp acidity, creamy and fruity with a good long finish.
Third wine is CvP a joven from 2009 with four months barrel ageing. Tempranillo and syrah are blended to produce a deep cherry red wine with long ,fat,  slow running legs. This has had four months in French and American oak, and on the nose mature red fruits combine with a hint of smoke and spices from this crianza, which in the mouth shows acidity, liquorice, dark mature fruit and a long smooth and rich finish.
Top of their range is Avclivs, a blend of Tempranillo, Merlot, and Syrah from 2007 . After fermentation in American and French fine grain oak the wine is matured in the same barrels for 12 months during which it picks up a deep colour with dark cherry , positively intense. On the nose rich spice, smoke and coconut, walnut and clove. In the mouth very full, absolutely integrated tannins, alcohol, smooth fruity and with a long satisfying finish. Wonderful!

Cooking Squid for Arroz Abanda.

  No visit to this fair is done without a visit to some old friends!

At Vera de Estenas with Felix Martinez and Pere Mercado we tasted Bobal 2006, recently reviewed in posts on Primum Bobal and a special tasting of Vera de Estenas Bobal ( see previous blogs.)
At Bodegas Cueva also DO Utiel-Requena we tasted some of Mariano Taberners experimental wines, including his Vino Turbio, a pure Macabeo, but more interesting were the Macabeo dulce, a pale lemon, clear bright wine, full, sweet but not cloying with 13% ABV and well-integrated alcohol and natural sugars; also a rosado from 99% Macabeo with 1% Bobal, fermented a second time in bottle with no added sugar which was an incredibly well-balanced fruity wine!
At Chozas Carrascal with Maria José we had re-visited the excellent 2010 Las Dosces Blanco and then visited the stand of Miguel Velazquez at Bodega Los frailes, another of my favourite Fontanars bodegas!
Here we tasted three wines.    

Miguel Velazquez of Bodega Los Frailes.

 First was the new white 2010 Blanc de Trilogia, a blend of Verdil, Moscatel and Sauvignon Blanc fermentado en barrica. Nice yellow, clear and bright with long legs and on the nose, sweet pineapple, aromatic, apricot, mango and sweet apple. In the mouth fresh, round balanced with a lovely acidity and long finish. For me one of the best whites at the fair!
Second was the Rosado 2010 a pure Monastrell. A nice rose colour, clear bright and with good legs, on the nose, intense, concentrated with lots of vanilla. In the mouth much drier than expected, good body, very nice and full…loved it!
Finally we tasted the `f´2010 Monastrell Joven.  Again a lovely cherry colour with long slow legs, on the nose full of fruit, sweet cherry, liquorice and caramel. In the mouth full and very fruity, very warm. Excellent easy drinking wine with class!
Next we went to Bodegas Covilor where Beatriz was showing the Altas Cuevas range from this good little Coop.  The Macabeo is full of melons and dry with a minerally finish. 

Bodegas Torroja, DO Utiel-Requena.

 The 2007 Crianza a blend of Bobal Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon is really fruity with nice oak and vanilla touches from the crianza.  The same blend, but this time a Reserva from 2006 is altogether smoother and fruitier, better integrated and at 4.5€ a bottle both reds are very good value.
Bodegas Torroja (DO Utiel Requena ) are a firm favourite and we stopped at their stand to welcome Hervé Gomez back from his recent trip to Prowein in Dusseldorf.
Of course we also wanted to try the Sybarus pure Tardana and the 2010 vintage has just been released. This pale white with old gold flashes has long legs and on the nose is dry and quite minerally. In the mouth melon with a long dry mineral finish. I look forward to letting this settle down in bottle and then compare it with the 2008 and 2009 vintages!
The rosado Cañada Mazan is 100% Bobal, lighter in colour than last years wine, strawberries and cream on the nose and strawberries on the palate, boiled sweets but beautiful balance with the acidity and a long satisfying finish. This is already in the cellar for summer drinking!
The Sybarus Syrah from Torroja was awarded the prize for most valued wine in the Els Bodeguers tasting…well deserved!

Albiar and Marsilea from Vinos Marsilea.


 Also very good value are Sebastián Mancebo´s wines from Vinos Marsilea! I discovered this bodega a year ago at the same fair.
Albiar is the name for the two vinos de Aguja, sparkling white and Rosado respectively. Sebastián makes wines in and out of the rules of the DO. Thus the white from pure Macabeo is in, ABV 11% and from 2009. Brilliant, clean, with fine bubbles and gold flashes. On the nose white flowers, green apples and melon.
In the mouth a nice attack, a little ripe melon, minerals but a lovely summer aperitif!
The rosado , a wine  100% Bobal…and thus outside the rules  is a lovely strawberry colour,  with rose edges and fine bubbles. On the nose good strong fruit and in the mouth full, nice acidity and bite and a full body which fills the mouth. Shows well what Bobal can do!
 Finally we tasted the Marsilea 2010 Bobal Joven, 13% ABV Fermentado en barrica and with three months in French oak. A medium cherry red, long slow fat legs. On the nose red and black wood fruits, sweet ripe,  boiled sweets, in the mouth very fruity, powerful, meaty, balanced with a very long finish. Another bodega to visit soon.
Another Bodega new to me is El Fesu, from Ontinyent, another Clariano bodega from DO Valencia.

Wines from Bodegas El Fesu.

    I tried four wines from this bodega. First was a white, Hoya del Marquesado , 12% ABV and a blend of  70%Macabeo and 30% Malvasia. This was straw, clean and bright and had of sweet apple on the nose. A nice fruity white with a bit more body because of the Malvasia.
Second was the Tinto Hoya de Marquesado 12% ABV Joven. Tempranillo and Monastrell, a medium density cherry red, with red fruits on the nose. In the mouth, full, warm and smooth.
Third was the Belmar Tinto Crianza 2007 and 13% ABV. This is a blend of Monastrell, Tempranillo Syrah and Merlot. Still relatively closed on the nose, a touch astringent with more of the barrel than fruit.
Finally the Belmar Reserva Seleción, 2002 14% ABV and the same blend as above. A bit more depth of colour and better on the nose. In the mouth again better balanced , fruit and nice touches from the ageing.
Also from this area is Heretats de Taverner, a bodega whose wines we have tried before. Juan Llobell took me through a tasting of these .
Reixu is a white from 30% Sauvignon Blanc and 70% Chardonnay though I thought it had Verdil in it! 12% ABV clean bright and with lots of white flowers and fruit on the nose. In the mouth very nice fruit, a nice structure, perfect balanced with good acidity. Elegant!
El Vern which is a tinto was served quite chilled. A blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot it is 14.5%ABV.  A nice cherry red, with good long legs, on the nose really good fruit, clean with cherries, damsons and plums. In the mouth this is complemented with smooth tannins.
Mallaura 2006 is much the same blend, but more garnet than cherry in colour. On the nose again lovely fruit, damson, cherry and jam, more mature. In the mouth very smooth, silky.

Enjoying Clochinas at the Fair!

Ben Viu won first prize in the reserve red category. Pure Graciano and from vines associated with Rioja which were bought to add acidity to a blend. The wine has spent 14 months in French oak and on the nose has blackberry and blackcurrant but also a very floral nose. In the mouth very very smooth!
The vines can over produce so to make them work harder they are inter-planted with rye -grass and wheat which makes them struggle during the summer. This is chopped as a mulch and then ploughed in as a green manure later.
Finally I tasted their Seleción, from the best eight 300 litre barrels, three of Graciano, two of Tempranillo and one each of Monastrell and Garnacho, all French, whilst the final cask of Cabernet Sauvignon has been in American Oak.
A nice deep red colour with good legs, the nose has an abundance of fruit, all sorts of red and black fruit jams, spice , nutmeg and minerals. In the mouth this is all confirmed with a silky smooth structure.
  I have been saying for 18 months that this Finca Collado is a bodega to watch! In the last three weeks Levante-EMV´s gastronomy supplement named them a bodega of reference in Vinos Alicante, they have been awarded a prize for their white wine and Javier Prats, fellow wine writer here in Valencia named them his bodega of the fair in his blog! Say no more……….

Mari-Carmen of Finca Collado with the Award Certificate.

   Finally three bodegas from Castellon!
   Vinya Natur´s wines are well known to me as I have been following their progress for a few months now. The Cava and Barranc de L´Infern white and red have all been reported on or used at my tastings since Xmas! Moreover before the end of this month I intend to visit Esteban at this bodega and El Rosso where he also makes the wine. A further blog will follow but I did get to taste La Llagrima at the fair as well! From Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot this blend was macerated  in open barricas of French oak before being fermented in the same barrels after a light pressing. 14.5%ABV, it is aintense cherry red with terracotta touches. On the nose red and black fruits, and a well-integrated crianza, lacteos. On the palate powerful and well structured, with well-balanced structure . Long finish with smooth tannins. On the nose there were hints of pasification which Esteban confirmed and in the mouth some of this was evident in deeply grape fruit flavours, residual sugars and sweetness. All in all a hugely concentrated wine and only 850 bottles!
Mas de Rander from Benlloch is a mixed enterprise, having citrus fruits as well. The vineyard was planted and the wine is made by Michel Poudou who also was behind Chozas Carrascal. The bodega uses El Celleret, (as does Vicente Flors), a small modern bodega set up by three separate firms to keep costs down.
First of their wines was a 2009 Syrah Merlot blend 13.5% ABV. A nice deep cherry colour, with good legs, on the nose warm bitter cherry notes, and in the mouth fruty jams, sweet, smooth tannins with later hints of liquorice.
Second up was a pure syrah from 2008, 14% ABV which had much more colour deep and intense with long legs. On the nose classic raspberry and black fruits and smoke. Again this smoke is evident on the palate, which is full round and with very nice jammy fruit. Long finish.
Cuatre Vents is the third wine from 2007, 13.5% ABV and with 4 months in American oak. From Cabernet Sauvignon it is a full cherry red colour with long legs. On the nose good varietal characteristics with black currants and blackberries and a hint of farmyard or forest floor. This is I think a hint of the terroir which is a bit more evident on the palate, which has lovely fruit and a good finish. A wine to lay down!
Gourness Vinos Valencianos a company behind distribution and wineries in Castellon were promoting Diviñas y vinos, a bodega which I had come across at the Best Wines of Castellon fair ( see earlier posts) and they were showing a tinto, rosado and Perdición a wonderful wine which sadly were almost the last wines we tasted at the fair late into Sunday afternoon. To give them a better report I will be visiting this prize-winning bodega shortly but it has to be said their wines left a deep impression, especially a hint of mint on the last!
All three of these vineyards will have to be visited this year!
This fair has been a revelation, the bodegas of all three provinces have worked miracles in the last year, some against production costs which are higher than income, others against falling consumption and thus sales whilst others have forged ahead. I know I, and friends I met enjoyed a superb fair, made new friends and enjoyed many new wines of undoubted quality.
I have a busy year of visits ahead! And I know I have not recorded all the wines tasted over the week, thank you to all the producers who were so generous!
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  • George  On May 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Ricardo – can you help me please?

    I am now living in Spain and want to develop a web site of Spanish artisan food products to sell – would you have access to a list of companies that I may be able to contact to discuss it

    Thank you


    • rikiwigley  On May 26, 2011 at 3:39 pm

      Hi George,
      Do not have extensive lists of Spainwide products. However can help with some in Valencia or put you in touch with producers or the Controlling bodies. Will write separately.

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