A Visit to Bodegas Proexa, Los Marcos, Venta del Moro. DO Utiel-Requena.


Bodegas Proexa.

 

I first came across the wines from Bodegas Proexa last year during the Certamen del Vinos de Venta del Moro ( See archive August 2010). A further tasting of their wines last week at the 2011 event just confirmed how good they are and so the stage was set for a visit to the bodega itself, a visit on which I was accompanied by three members of the Vilamarxant Wine Club. Despite a small problem with the map, or maybe it was just a local road petering out suddenly, we made it to the little hamlet of Los Marcos, near to Venta del Moro, where the bodega is situated. The bodega is right on the edge of town, next door to Aranleon and across the road from the local Cooperative.

Originally this bodega and Aranleon were owned by the same family but inheritance has subsequently seen them split and today Proexa is run by Jose Luis Lopez and Manolo who met us on our arrival and conducted a fascinating tour and subsequent tasting of some of their wines from the barrels. The bodega was set up in 1996, with its vineyards in Venta del Moro planted in 1991. Set in two buildings, the original bodega and a newer building with basement barrel park, tasting suite and storage area, the bodega has four concrete deposits lined with tiles and/or epoxy resin, each capable of holding 15k kilos of grapes. The vineyards consist of some 25 hectares, mostly Tempranillo, with parcels of Merlot, Syrah and Bobal for the coupages.

 

Laboratory in the Bodega.

The entire project is ecological  and the bodega uses only natural yeasts in fermentation. Everything is done in-house, by hand, making it a truly artisanal bodega. Much of the wine produced is sold in bulk and with  the wines set aside for crianza and reserva and subsequently bottled some 90% of the production goes directly to Germany where ecological wines are well appreciated. Some wine is sold through distributors to Madrid and Valencia but I have only ever seen the wines in Venta del Moro. And in Germany their distributors regularly enter the wines into competitions such as Biofac and Prowein where  equally regularly they win awards including gold medals!Some of the production is sold to the German owned bodega, Palmera,  in El Rebollar.

I asked Jose Luis about this years harvest especially after last year which had proved very difficult with hailstones ruining much of the crop which had not already suffered badly from mildew and oidium. He told me that so far this year was looking very good. The grapes are smaller and more compact than in previous years but he believes they have more concentration and quality. Most of the vines are planted `en espalda´but some are still in the traditional `vaso´style. Harvesting will begin on the 15th of September a little earlier than usual.

Harvesting is undertaken by hand with first selection taking place in the vineyard and thereafter the grapes are transferred to the bodega in 20Kg boxes to avoid unwanted pressing and oxidation. The bodega holds a pneumatic press, a laboratory and hand bottling plant. Apart from the concrete deposits there are also temperature controlled stainless steel tanks as well as some fibre-glass tanks where wine ready for bottling is kept temporarily, with tops that follow the wine down to avoid unwanted air getting in to oxidise the wine.

Pneumatic Press and Stainless Steel Deposit.

In the barrel park below the tasting suite sit the wines undergoing crianza or destined for Reserva status. Here also repose the bottles containing the finished wine as they go through their evolution before release onto the market. The bodega sticks rigidly to the DO Rules with crianza wines spending 6 months in wood and a year in bottle and the Reserva wines a year in wood and 2 years in bottle. Most of the barrels are French oak but they do have a few of American origin. The barrels are generally medium toasted. The bodega normally produces between 40-50 thousand bottles a year of its Vega Valterra and Aldobanes ranges.

Whilst we were in the basement area Jose Luis used a pipette to draw us all a sample of 2010 Tempranillo  destined for a reserva wine. A nice cherry red colour with good legs, this was initially closed on the nose but after a few minutes red and black fruits emerged together with hints of the oak. In the mouth it was very smooth.

Upstairs we tried a bobal from a 500 litre oak barrel. Again of light to medium density, with a violet edge, glycerinous legs, and again initially closed on the nose. Once again as it opened up there was raspberry fruit, yeasts and  chocolate, and in the mouth this had good fruit, was very smooth although quite tannic.

Jose Luis draws a sample of Tempranillo.

In the tasting suite we tried the 2008, Aldobanes, the flagship wine from the bodega. A blend of Tempranillo, Syrah and Bobal, 14.5% ABV. With medium to deep density, very glycerinous slow fat legs, and a deep cherry red with violet edge. On the nose this opened slowly, and when it did it was full of complexity, green pepper, chocolate, liquorice. In the mouth it also evolved slowly showing its potential. This is a wine which needs two more years in bottle before opening and Jose Luis believes it will accompany game or blue fish dishes well. I would like to partner it with a good steak and kidney pudding! A wine to lay down for the future.

Finally we tasted a new wine, so far unbottled and without a name. A new wine to add to the range produced by the bodega, Jose Luis and Manolo were keen to get independent opinions of this wine. From Tempranillo, with a small percentage of Bobal, the wine is around 14.5%ABV. It is not a joven, coming from the 2009 vintage and has seen only a short period in wood making it a Vino de Autor, possibly Madurado en Barrica. This had the longest, slowest, fattest legs I have seen! Again a very dense wine with dark red colour. On the nose initially a little floral. Then as it opened out, red and black fruit, raspberries. Suddenly, despite the small percentage of Bobal this variety started to dominate with liquorice, in the mouth, smooth, fruity, a quite different style which made it the most popular wine in the tasting. When this is bottled we will be back to buy some of the  6k litres available!

Jose Luis with Vilamarxant Wine Club Members in the Tasting Suite.

Whilst it is good that they have a ready market for their quality wines, it is a shame Valencia is unaware generally of the quality wines produced by this little bodega! This was a fascinating and very enjoyable visit to an artisan producer and I for one will be keeping a closer eye on what is going on in this quiet corner of Utiel-Requena!

 

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