XVI Feria del Campo de Villena, 2011.


Last year I visited this fair for the first time and was very much pleased to discover two new and emerging bodegas, Vinessens and Carabibas as well as some good friends in Finca Collado and some Bodegas from Alicante and la Mancha I had not encountered before. The fair is a traditional agricultural event with lots of very expensive farming hardware, local commerce, car dealers as well as wine, cheese and other food producers which often pleasantly surprise with their quality and artesan approach to production.

 

Vinessens at Last Years Fair.

This year was no exception, the fair strung out in a long line down the Calle San Juan Bosco with parking fortunately relatively easy in a nearby street. Immobility is no fun and being unable to walk far at the moment is a real pain…..literally!

Entry to this years fair was a mere 5€ which gives you the obligatory tasting tickets and souvenir glass, this year very much to the same high quality as last years and bigger with the towns crest etched into it.

There were 50 exhibitors and apart from the cars and combine harvesters, bakers, pizzas, insurance firms, swimming pools and construction companies there were also several serving and selling local sausages, artesan cheeses, sweets, hamburgers, churros but sadly most of these were right up the far end of the fair from the wine stalls with only one local baker and Quesos de Cati amongst the latter. No chance for much of a comparison between the local wines and food therefore and maybe the organisers could reconsider putting them altogether next year!

This year Carabibas and Vinessens were not present but interestingly wines from Yecla, Bodegas Sierra Salinas, Bocopa, the local Co-op Señorio  de la Virtudes, Francisco Gomez,  DO Alicante were together with the excellent Finca Collado and Julio Salinas,( former footballer with the National Side, Barcelona and Atletico Bilbao and now selling Cavas from Catalunya.)

Hoya Hermosa, Chardonnay.

I started with a look at the wines of Santa Margarita from the nearby village of Caudete which is just over the border into La Mancha. Salinas sits right on the edge of Alicante where it meets and borders with both Murcia and La Mancha provinces. I had been quite impressed by this company last year and was interested to see whether there was consistency between vintages.

The 2010 Chardonnay,Hoya Hermosa,  which also has a little Moscatel in the blend, is 12% ABV and sells for around 3.5€ a bottle. A nice yellow colour, with long legs, restrained fruit on the nose, a little apple, a little wet wool, in the mouth quite dry, nice acidity, balanced fruit and a dry mineral finish.

The 2009 Crianza with its Vino Casa Vital label for the restaurant for which it is bottled is a Merlot, 14% ABV and is also sold in Norway as `Tellnes´, hence it´s odd back-label! Cherry red in colour, vibrant, and colouring the glass with its long legs has a wonderfully jammy youthful fruit nose, black fruit, and in the mouth that fruit was spiky, fruity, and with good length. A joven style which is easy to drink.

 

Tasting at Santa Margarita Bodegas.

The third wine was the Petit Verdot which had excited me last year. 2006, 14%ABV and with 27 days of maceration before 11 months in French oak barrels. A crianza it is sold for around 18€ the bottle. It is also unfiltered and does have a deposit. Ruby red, almost plum, it has good legs. On the nose cherry, raspberry, liquorice and menthol and balsamics before evolving in the mouth, touches of wood, fresh acidity powerful and with a good finish. A deep wine which needs food, this wine has won awards.

Close-by was the stand of Quesos de Cati, a World Cheese Awards Winner in the past and artisan cheesemaker from Catí in Castellon. With a huge range of traditional cheeses from ecological production and from sheep and/or goats milk. They produce around 16 different cheeses from fresh soft cheeses to crumble into salads, Pell, Tronchon, Servilleta, Castell and Requeson from the traditional moulds used in this part of Spain. These are favourite cheeses here especially the Cati Al Romero, wrapped in Rosemary.

They now are in a partnership with Mons, another of the natural beer producers, who coordinate their purchases of  hops, yeast and  malts with cerveza Tyris ( See archives for a report of a visit to the brewery). They are producing three beers, fermented in bottle, including an Imperial Stout from a brewery in Massalavés  and I will try these when the diet allows!

 

Monastrell Rosado from Castaño, DO Yecla.

Second wine tasting was at the stall of DO Yecla,  a small DO based within the boundaries of the town and with just 11 bodegas, this is not an area whose wines I had tried before.

The three that I tried were all from Bodegas Castaño, a large organisation who also have interests in Alicante with Sierra Salinas, of which more later. A family concern, the bodega has a number of ranges, Dominio Espinal, Castaño and Pozuelo together with Hecula and Casa Cisca at the top of the range. They have a passion for the local variety Monastrell ( Mourvedre in France).

I first tried the Dominio Espinal Blanco 2010, at 12.5% ABV which is from Macabeo but had a distinct hint of Moscatel fruityness on the nose! Pale yellow, clean, bright and with good legs, it was fresh on the nose with hints of bananas, citrus and peach. In the mouth good fruit, fresh acidity and a good long dry finish. Easy drinking white.

The Rosado from Monastrell was 13%ABV. Pale strawberry in colour, almost onion skin. Very fresh strawberry and raspberry nose, lots of red fruits, and in the mouth quite dry initially, fresh, good acidity, with a long finish and a layer of red currant fruit. Quite elegant and different.

The tinto Crianza Pozuelo 2008 from Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Tintorera was served chilled. This was a bright purple cherry with a violet edge and long legs. On the nose spiky red cherry fruit, and in the mouth cherry, raspberry and blackberry, good acidity a hint of the wood ageing and good depth.

Following this we visited the stand of Sierra Salinas, part of the same Castaño group but DO Alicante. The bodega is within the town of Salinas with 52 Hectares of vines within 92 hectares including olives and almonds. The vineyard has no white varieties and has old Monastrell planted `en vaso´and newer plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha and Petit Verdot `en espalda´.

I started with the Mo Rosado, a Monastrell with other varieties of 13.5%ABV. Strawberry, onion skin, clean and bright with long legs. On the nose fresh, a little fruit, and in the mouth fresh red fruits, quite full and long dry finish. Satisfying.

Second wine was the Mo 2009 Monastrell Tinto, with 14% ABV which also has Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon and has had four months in French oak. This was a deep cherry red with very long legs, served chilled the nose was a bit restrained with only red fruits emerging. In the mouth fruity, green pepper, touch of wood, long finish with red fruits including strawberry. Well balanced, liked this!

The Bodega also produces a higher range of marques, Puerto, Mira and 1237. I tried the Mira, 2007, and 15% ABV from old Monastrell vines with 70 years minimum of age. This wine also includes a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha Tintorera. Very deep black cherry with long legs which colour the glass, on the nose wood, liquorice and mature fruit. In the mouth red and black fruits, quite jammy, oak, balsamics, minerals and terroir. Long satisfying quite powerful finish with spices. ( Clove). This sells for around 20€ in shops. The company export to the UK, Germany and Holland.

 

Mari Carmen of Finca Collado with Julio Salinas.

No visit to this fair should miss a tasting of Finca Collado´s wines which were available on the Ayuntamiento de Salinas stand  once Mari-Carmen got back from taking a visit to the Bodega. The 2010 white which is 50% each of Chardonnay and Moscatel is fresh, fruity with a lovely acidity. I can´t wait for the 2011 which by all accounts has seen the chardonnay finish fermentation and move to barrica. Also available was the wonderful pure Merlot with its jam, depth, power and which is my favourite Merlot. These wines are right at the top of the pile in DO Alicante. A view shared with Julio Salinas.

And so time ran out, but again this years fair  provided an opportunity to taste some new wines and talk to some new producers. Well worth the visit again!

 

 

 

 

 

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