Another Interesting Bottle ( Or Four) Come My Way!

Three 20th Century Reservas from Vera de Estenas.

Ok, so I love the Rutavino and its open days in Utiel-Requena, even when they come hard on the back of a long last weekend there. There were all sorts of attractions from descriptions of differences in varieties at Chozas Carrascal ( no doubt with a tasting to add to the event) , artistic endeavours at Gandia, Emilio Clemente and others, old labels to look at Torroja,( accompanied by tapas and a glass of wine ), old books to look at Dominio de la Vega, learning about pruning vines at Vegalfaro and other delights at Torre Oria , Finca Ardal , Coviñas  and  Vera de Estenas.

And it was the other delights at Vera de Estenas that got the vote this time! Hard on the heels of the tasting of Bobals from the late 1990´s to date, Felíx Martinez clearly has the bit between the teeth! Here was the promise of the possibility of tasting three wines, not available commercially, from the Reserva range…..and you do not ever turn up an opportunity to taste old wines from these cellars. That is a given!

Back Label without `Reserva´Status.

So at 11.30 am on the dot certain members of the Vilamarxant wine club descended on the bodega for a guided tour and then a couple of palate refreshers in the form of the excellent basic white ( Macabeo/Chardonnay) and the pure Bobal rosado ( from 80-year-old vines!)

Fali, as he is known to his friends, is master of his domain! The corks had been drawn four hours earlier on three wines from 1999,  1997, 1995 .( A tasting of wines from the last  century!) This Reserva range are  wines which contain a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Merlot and Bobal. The coupage varies from year to year depending on the weather and variety but each variety is separately vinified and will have spent around 15-18 months in French or American oak depending on the variety. Typically it could be 30% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo  to 20% each of the other varieties.

First wine was the 1999, 13% ABV, garnet in colour, even colour to the rim, medium density and medium length slow developing , quite fat legs suggesting a lot of glycerine. On the nose , soft fruits, strawberry initially, red and black fruits subsequently, blackcurrant, blackberry and then masses of liquorice!


In the mouth this did not disappoint. Tannins , alcohol and fruit were in perfect harmony, well-balanced, and with a lot of life left in the wine. 12 years old and another good example of why well made Valencian wine should be laid down!

To the 1997 ( 12.5%ABV) which had the same colour but longer if quicker forming legs. On the nose initially a little more farmyard and vegetal notes quickly followed by black currants, mature damson and plum fruit…I wonder if this was a particularly good year for Merlot?….and more liquorice.

In the mouth well-integrated, nice mature fruit, long, meaty, peppery but smoother and very seductive. Long finish.

1995, just two years older but beginning to show age! Terracotta colour, medium density beginning to be lighter, much more developed in the bottle. On the nose balsamic notes and coffee, pure `torrefactos´ from the wood. In the mouth this was a wine with age, a touch of sweetness, very smooth and beginning to live on it´s own best qualities…..but still alive and a pleasure to drink!

Interestingly this wine has a back label which shows it was outside the DO Rules of the time….Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot not being acceptable grape varieties so no mention of the Reserva status of the wine!

1982 Colour!

As usual this is where it got very interesting as Fali disappeared and re-appeared with another bottle in his hand…..this time the 1982 from the same Reserva marque and one of the earliest wines remaining in the cellars at Vera de Estenas! Actually the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot had only been planted the year before this wine was made  by Fali´s father. Clearly they were not part of the wine! So it emerged that the base was Tempranillo and that even this came from vineyards at Casa Lo Alto, near to Venta del Moro, a property Fali´s grandfather had sold to Auguste Egli´s family, one of the  Swiss pioneering founder-fathers of modernisation in Utiel-Requena! The money gained had been used to buy the Finca Cabazuela, Casa Don Angel which is today´s bodega!

11.7% ABV, something you would never be able to say today on the label, this was the first bottle opened from this vintage for three years! The colour has dropped completely and there was a huge deposit in the bottom of the bottle! Oxidation has turned it to amber, the colour of a palo cortado from Jerez. Sherry was what it looked like and its legs were still very long….not clean because the cork crumbled but very bright!

On the nose there were notes of sherry as well, coffee in abundance, but clean. In the mouth nuts, dry but still good, surprisingly very alive and smooth and creamy…unbelievably alive and good! What a treat!

Once again it was a real privilege to share these wines, thank you Fali!

Marmiton Blanco.

A trip to Requena is never complete without lunch so we descended on La Sarten in La Portera for a traditional meal of local classics! A Valencian salad with membrillo and walnuts chopped into it was accompanied by Ajoarriero, Mortuerelo, Patatas al Pobre, Lamb chops and Swordfish and washed down with a bottle of the Marmiton Blanco from Macabeo, crisp, dry and exceptionally good!

The Ruta del Vino´s events carry on tomorrow, Sunday 3 July…where will you go?



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