A week to Ferevin 2011,Optimism Abounds For a Better Year in Utiel-Requena!


José Luis Robredo, President CRDOP Utiel-Requena.

 

Actually, just five more days as Ferevin will open its doors to the public on Thursday evening for this years showcase fair, held in the central Avenida Arrabal until lunchtime on Sunday next! Entry is by ticket as usual which will provide a number of tastings from the  associated bodegas, and discounts on the entry price are once again available fo those using the rail connection to Requena from Valencia´s San Isidre station.

This years fair is being held against a real feeling of optimism in the D.O. A number of factors have swung the mood around despite the damage caused by recent hailstorms, with ice the size of an average fist, punishing the vineyards, almonds and olives of San Antonio. What are the reasons for this optimism?

Firstly as reported earlier in the year the application for UNESCO world heritage status is progressing well. Related to archeological digs at Las Pillilas and Kelin which show there have been 2500 years of continuous wine-making in Spain, making it the oldest wine-producing region on the peninsular. This is expected to be approved next year. When approved it will add great prestige to the region and provide additional publicity to make the wines better known world-wide as well as hopefully providing a stimulus for the growing wine tourism already on the up in the region.

Las Pillilas, Spains Oldest Bodega.

 

Secondly whilst all the growers will be praying for good weather in the next few weeks and keeping fingers, legs and everything else possible crossed, the harvest looks good at this point. There has been little if any mildew or oidium compared with last year, and almost perfect weather since the spring, (the odd thunderstorm excepted) which has left a bigger and healthier crop this year according to my contacts. In fact if anything picking could well be a little earlier to avoid over-maturity in the crop in certain areas. Certainly there is great optimism for the Macabeo crop, so important to the production of the excellent cavas produced in Requena.

Just about a year ago José Luis Robredo took over as President of the Controlling body, at a very difficult time for the DO with huge differences between the views of the growers and the bodega owners over the future status of Utiel-Requena ( which many felt was unknown ) and would be better marketing it´s wines as `Wines from Valencia´to cash in on the latter prestige name around the world. I had the pleasure of meeting him at the recent conference weekend held for bloggers.

A year later , confidence in the D.O. is up. Sales have improved over the year to 25 million bottles, 59% of which are sold abroad. Under pressure to improve the variety of wines the DO has  approved the use of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Verdejo and Albariño although the emphasis will remain heavily on Bobal which is planted in 75% of the D.O´s vineyards.

The D.O. has adopted a strong approach to promoting the wines to the younger generation whose preferences seem to be for beer or spirits although at every tasting I have been to there is always a strong presence of young wine drinkers appreciating Valencian fine wines.

Esperanza Alonso, Manager of the Bodega Redonda, Utiel.

And wine tourism in the area is up as well, with the D.O´s headquarters in the Bodega Redonda in Utiel under the managership of Esperanza Alonso receiving 6100 visitors in the last year. During the recent open days a number of bodegas held a variety of events with attendances up again on previous years.

One of the main new economic drivers in the region should be the new High Speed train station at Requena-Utiel, just outside San Antonio. The ten towns that make up the DO (including Chera) together with the controlling body have formed a technical commission to use the station to promote the area. It is felt that the station can provide more than a dropping-off point for visitors to the region, being just over an hour from Madrid and 20 minutes from Valencia. Utiel, Requena and El Rebollar have Industrial estates which are prime for expansion especially as the region becomes a hub for transport when the new Interior road from Alicante is completed. Also likely to benefit is the Hoces de Cabriel national park with it´s walking, canoeing and other outdoor pursuits centres based in Venta del Moro. It is felt that the AVE stations in Madrid and Valencia can also be exploited more to highlight the region with promotions of wine,tourism, the regions sausages and gastronomy etc.

And finally there are reports of more interest in bulk wine with sales being potentially higher over the next year. Utiel-Requena´s whole tradition started with bulk wine exports and much continues to be exported today. In fact on a recent visit to Venta del Moro, the bulk road tankers were already lined up outside one of the bodegas awaiting the start of the harvest. The last two years have seen prices paid for the crop fall below what it costs to produce it. It is hoped that the quality wine with it´s DO certificate will produce higher prices this year and start to decrease the decline which has seen old vineyards with quality production being grubbed up  as growers abandon their plots of vines.

Carlos Carcel, President of Ferevin.

And, what can we expect from the wine fair this year? Well under the fifth year of control by Carlos Carcel and the committee of Ferevin, this fair should reflect some of that optimism. Some 20 or so bodegas will be present and the timetable of events is available at www.ferevin.com . Highlights will once again be the wines, and there is a huge variety to taste over the four days. The gastronomic element will be the local bollo, a flat olive bread with bacon and sausages, or Sardines and tomatos as well as Gazpacho Requenense, a variety of  a manchego stew with rabbit and partridge. The wine competition on Saturday is rumoured to have entrants from abroad marking it as an International Competition for the first time in it´s four year history.

For a feel of last years event see August 2010´s archive. Roll on Thursday evening!

 

 

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Comments

  • Mick Messum  On August 21, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Great post, thanks Riki. Looking forward to Ferevin immensely. Hope to see you there.
    Mick Messum

    • rikiwigley  On August 21, 2011 at 3:20 pm

      Be delighted to see you there, Will be there all four sessions Friday and Saturday, do you still have my mobile number?

  • elmiercolestoca  On August 21, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Enhorabuena Riki, por reflejar magistralmente, la situación actual y de futuro de los vinos, de una tierra, que se merece lo mejor.

  • M&CM International Ltd  On August 21, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    No I don’t as i have a new phone. I’m on 675367683. Also, have you seen our blog

    mandcm.wordpress.com

    no doubt see you at somepoint next week.

    Best

    Mick

    • rikiwigley  On August 21, 2011 at 8:36 pm

      Hi Mick, Have recorded your number in my phone. You should now have a missed call which is my number! Riki

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