bob@l_bloggers, An Intensive Introduction to Bobal, Utiel-Requena, Some New Friends and Some Older Ones Revisited!

Members...and friends of Asociación Primum Bobal in Requena.

There is nothing like an intensive weekend away working and a bloggers conference is as hard work as it gets…..though it does fall into the category of `its a hard life but somebody has to do it´! The bloggers conference in Requena organised last weekend by the DO Utiel-Requena, as previewed in the last post but one, was an experience well worth the effort and foresight of their managing committee, and the organising skills of the Communications Department.

The weekend actually began on the Friday night when Asociación Primum Bobal organised a tasting of the seven wines from the Bodegas which currently form the organisation. This was accompanied by cheeses and took place underneath the castle walls in La Villa, the oldest part of Requena and was hosted by Los Cubillos, a renowned restaurant whose premises sit opposite the walls of the castle and whose underground cellar restaurant sits against it´s foundations. The wines are unchanged from those in my March 12 post ( see archives) except that the Las Dosces from Chozas Carrascal is the 2010 vintage and we tasted the 2005  Miquelius from Bodegas Dagon which was less sweet than the later vintage originally selected. Once again for many this was the surprise wine of the night, especially when it was accompanied by the Val de León aged blue cheese with which it was in perfect harmony!

Los Cubillos Restaurant, Requena.

After the event which  fitted seamlessly into a night when Requena was alive with street parties celebrating Saint John the Baptist´s day we decamped to the cellars of the restaurant to enjoy a dinner amongst friends, notably Felix Martinez and his wife Yolanda ( Vera de Estenas) , Luis Gil-Orozco and his wife ( Finca Ardal),  Pere Mercado, (Press secretary to the Association), Vincent Basabe, fellow blogger ( Camino del Vino) , Javi Prats and his wife Elena ( Blogger at Vinos de Bobal etc) , Karoleta Ballestar and her partner ( Blogger at and Antonio from Bodegas Dagon.

This was just the first of two nights very short of sleep. Having arrived home at 2am it was up again at 7.30 am in order to get to Requena for the main event which started in the Paraje San José hotel, recently completely rebuilt and opened as a 4* Superior establishment.

The affable José Luis Robredo, President of the Consejo Regulador, Denominación de Origen Utiel-Requena welcomed us all to the event and was followed by Dani Esposito of Dominio de la Vega and Pagos de Molino, whose role was to explain to us all the mysteries and characteristics of the Bobal variety, Utiel-Requenas jewel in the crown and one of the most versatile grape varieties in the world. He told us all about its past, being used for export to bolster wine quality in other parts of Spain, in France and elsewhere. Considered a variety good only for this purpose until about 15 years ago it is now recognised as capable of making white cava, incredibly fruity and fresh rosados, young reds, reservas for long ageing and even sweet wines of great depth and concentration. It is a variety of low Ph, perfect acidity and huge concentration of fruit and colour which does not fade with the passage of time! Moreover its different clones produce a great variety of wines on differing soils as well as concentrated wines from vines which are over 100 years old.

José Luis Robredo, President of CRDOP Utiel-Requena.

As Danny might have said were he English `the proof of the pudding is in the eating´ and so we went off to taste blind six wines made exclusively from the variety, not to identify them blind ( though two or three of us did play that game!) but to learn from the sensations we encountered  some of the characteristics Dani had previously explained!

For the record the six wines were, Parreño Rosado 2010 from Latorre, Bobal Madurado en Barrica 2010 from Dominio de la Vega, Olivastro 2008 from Bodegas Carres , Arte Mayor from Dominio de la Vega, Casa Don Angel 2006 from Dominio de la Vega and Miquelius the oloroso style dessert wine from Bodegas Dagon.

Following this were thrown into the cultural side of the region, bearing in mind that wine must be seen its context and surroundings. Our first visit was to Las Cuevas, the series of interlinked caves and basements of the old houses and churches underneath the oldest part of Requena, originally used for defensive purposes, the later for storage of cereals, oil and the fermentation and storage of wine. There was even  an old ossuary, now disused  beneath one of the central churches.

From here wewere taken to lunch in Utiel, in the Restaurant Garzan where we enjoyed a traditional meal and wines from the prize winners in various competitions this year, chosen by the DO to be served at all official events organised by them. These included white wines from Bodegas Sierra Norte ( a Macabeo Sauvignon Blanco blend  and Vegalfaro which blends Chardonnay with Sauvignon Blanco , Enterizo rosado from Coviñas, Aula  Merlot from Coviñas and Corolilla from Murviedro, all very drinkable with the excellent food which accompanied them! For me the traditional Gazpacho Manchego was the stand-out dish though the stewed lamb was also excellent!

Some of my fellow bloggers in the formal session.

Back to the cultural trail after lunch when Esperanza Alonso, Manager of the Bodega Redonda Museum gave us a tour of the facility, explaining its history as working bodega, HQ of the CRDO and thus a working office, and some of the old tools associated with wine-making which adorn the walls and floors of the old deposits on the ground floor. Upstairs we enjoyed the tunnel of sensations, actually perspex boxes with paddles to release scents associated with wine-tasting from small bottles within! We also enjoyed a look at the many bottles of wine, examples of the products of the associated bodegas. Then it was back to work and another tasting of wines.

Last years event had only consisted of an equivalent of this tasting. This year we were to meet some new wines as well.

First bodega was Latorre Agrovinícola, based in Venta del Moro, and represented by Luis Latorre. He had a range of whites and rosados from the Parreño range and some aged reds. Of these I selected two for tasting. First was the Viera Verdejo blend 2010 and 11.5%ABV. Pale lemon, clean, bright with long legs this has an appley, melon and honeyed fruit nose with hints of banana. In the mouth round with a nice long full dry finish. At the other end of the scale The Duque de Arras, Gran Duque Selecion 2001 at 14.5% ABV and a pure Bobal has had 2 years in wood and seven in bottle before release. To the eye it is deep garnet with a hint of terracotta at the edge, on the nose, deep rich red and black fruits, jam, and balsamic hints and in the mouth full, deep, rich and powerful. Very much in the old reserve style of wine but lovely with it!

Esperanza Alonso in the Bodega Redonda.

From the Chozas Carrascal range I chose first the Cava, tasted many times before and a real favourite. This is a grat palate cleanser as well as a serious wine in its own right with its hints of anis on the nose despite being predominantly from Chardonnay. Following this I selected the Cabernet Franc, from the 2008 vintage and now sporting an official DO label! Lovely deep cherry red, long legs and with deep raspberry fruit on the nose, almost jammy. Quite open in the mouth, deep with lots of fruit, still young and needing time. Excellent!

From Dominio de la Vega I tasted the Arte Mayor IV, a blend of vintages, and pure bobal at its best from different parcels with varying ageing. This is a consistenly good wine, deep purple, open and fruity. On the nose damsons, plums, fruits of the forest, minerals, oak and balsamics. Quite forward for a powerful wine of this age, liquorice, full-bodied, but elegant , spicy and with a long finish. A favourite!

As of course is the 2006 Vera de Estenas Casa Don Angel Bobal also from the Primum Bobal stable. Deep cherry red with a blue edge, mature red and black fruit, plums, blackcurrant, concentrated, and again hints of pepper and caramelos de cafe con leche. In the mouth tannins, but well-balanced, a little smoky pepper and ideal with bitter chocolate!

Also showing, and for the second year was Olivastro, Jose-Luis Torres Carpio´s excellent 2008 of which more in the next blog!

Coviñas, Requena´s giant co-operative and winner of many awards for it´s wines offered a range overseen by Diego Morcilla. The Al Vent Rosado from first pressing shows just how delicate but attractive Rosado from Bobal can be! I have used it several times in tastings and it is always popular with its pale rose colour, fragrant  fruity nose with strawberries and cream and beautiful freshness and acidity in the mouth. A classic Valencian quality rosado.

Vicente R Basabe checks out the Cinnamon in the `Sensations´area.

The Marques de Plata cava from Coviñas is also a good fresh wine. With a good crown, persistent and deep, pale lemon in colour, on the nose there is a lot of patisserie, and in the mouth it is light, fresh and satisfying. From Macabeo, Xarel-Lo and Parellada. They were also showing the award-winning varietals from the Aula range, Syrah and Merlot.

Finally the Asociación Primum Bobal were represented by Pere Mercador, sumiller and communications secretary, and Antonio from Bodegas Dagon. They had the other wines from Primum bobal including those from Pasiego and Finca Ardal.

You may think all this tasting would take its toll and that your poor bloggers would need a break! Well temperatures of 37º did require a return to the hotel to change before the evening session began! More of this , Sunday morning´s visits and a farewell lunch at the hotel in Part 2!

Four wine-makers. Emilio Esposito, Felix Martinez, Jose-Luis Torres Carpio and Diego Morcilla.

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