A Visit to Bodega Enologica Oleana, Vinos Marsilea in Sinarcas, Utiel-Requena.

January is not generally a month for sun-loving softies to go to the interior , here in Valencia. Cold mornings are made worse by a serious drop in temperatures as you rise away from Valencia and head West towards Requena. Sinarcas, our destination for this visit is even higher at 900m above sea level and 3º was the best on offer temperature wise.

Sebastián Mancebo, Winemaker at Ecologica Oleana.

Sinarcas is the furthest of the towns making up the Utiel-Requena denomination, home also to a co-operative and Bodegas Pasiego, is a centre of chicken farms ( most of Valencia´s eggs are produced here) and to all intents and purposes appeared to be a sleepy little town, the only signs of life being the occasional lone worker pruning vines.

Fortunately, our host, Sebastián Mancebo, wine-maker at Oleana had booked us in for almuerzo in the excellent Bar Sinarcas. This consisted of a hearty plate of sausages, made at the bar itself, pisto, the obligatory fried eggs and  fresh bread washed down of course by a selection of the bodegas wines, followed by coffee and an orujo with honey…..a very good start!

Sebastián first impressed me with the bodega´s wines at the 2010 Valencia wine and food fair. The bodega is wholly ecological and proudly displays the Valencian Government´s certificate on the back labels of their wines. Situated in a warehouse on the edge of town, the bodega is relatively small and Sebastián makes mono-varietal wines from Bobal ( Rosado, Joven and Methode Tradicional) , Merlot, and a blend of red from Syrah, Merlot, Tempranillo and Bobal and whites from Verdejo and Gewurtztraminer all from the 60 hectares of vines ( and from some 28 small parcels with different orientations) at this family owned vineyard.

There are also vinos de agujo, a white and a rosado and a bag in the box range, all called Albiar. The wines are sold in Valencia City through a distributor but Sebastián is developing overseas markets including Germany and Belgium and, good news, Birmingham in the UK! He hopes to go to wine-fairs in Germany, the UK and France this year to develop these markets.

20 Year Old Tempranillo.

Marsilea is the name for the top wines from the bodega and Fusion is the coupage made in 2009 from Bobal, Tempranillo, Merlot and Syrah which, in 2011 will for certain be without the Tempranillo as Sebastián was unhappy with the quality and sold it on to someone else. The Merlot is of sufficient quality to reserve some this year for a mono-varietal, a former marque  which has not been produced for 2-3 years.

The vineyards are the typically red soil of the region, sandy, stony and poor in quality despite being between the two dry river-beds of the Rambla Madre and the Rambla de la Hoz which feed the Oleana, ( or Rio Magro) which in turn passes through Requena on its way to the Cabriel and ultimately the sea.

And so to the wines.

We started over breakfast with the Fusion 2009 which is 14.5% ABV. The wine has a good youthful colour still, violet and with long legs. The nose is packed with fruit red, black and with lots of jam. In the mouth it is a full, fruity, easy to drink red, the fruit going well with the spicy sausages and pisto which accompanied it.

Equally good was the Marsilea Brut Nature, Methode Tradicional, Valentià, 100% Bobal and the only rosado in this style made from this variety in the region. The bottle had enjoyed 28 months on its lees before dis-gorging on 1 December 2010, thus enjoying another couple of years maturing which accounted for the very `champignon´ shaped cork which failed to expand. A quite full rose, strawberry colour, with lots of very fine , persistent bubbles, on the nose patisserie, toasty with soft fruits and in the mouth, full, nice attack , very well-balanced and a  surprisingly good match with guëno, chorizo and morcilla!

In the bodega we embarked on a tasting of 2011´s from deposit.

Gewurztraminer 2011.

The Verdejo was pale gold, with long legs and on the nose bananas, ripe tropical fruit, grassy and herby and in the mouth satisfying dry, but full, buttery and with a mineral finish. The wine is ready and awaiting bottling.

The Gewurztraminer is the only pure mono-varietal wine made in the Valencian region from this German/Alsacian grape. Very gold on the nose, clean, bright, long slow legs. On the nose fragrant, ripe fruit, white flowers, mango, lychee, a little orange scent, almond. In the mouth full, good balance, a wine for drinking young and which will go well with foie, pate, blue cheeses and , dare I say light curries! If this is what Gewurztraminer can produce I think there should be more of it grown! At 13.5% ABV and around 5-6 € a bottle in the shops this is a real find!

The next two wines were pure Bobals, the rosado and the joven. The grapes for these wines are grown at 900-1000m above sea-level, the highest in the region. As a result the grape skins are thicker and contain more aromatics and colour. Also, the long hot days are complemented by sharp drops in night temperatures and breezes which reduces the stree in the grapes. As a result maturity is slower than around Requena. From a first pressing the wine is, not unexpectedly, reasonably deep in colour, bags of hard-boiled fruits on the nose, bubble-gum and in the mouth strawberries and cream but with a bit more depth of flavour.

In the Bodega.

The Joven from the same vineyards is more concentrated, bright purple and still undergoing a malolactic fermentation. unmistakably Bobal, purple, bright violet-blue edge, very long legs. Very fruity deep, concentrated, and heading shortly for barrica.

2011 has turned out to be a particularly good year for Merlot. This had finished its malolactic fermentation and is 13.1%ABV. Some of this harvest is likely to be retained for a mono-varietal this year, something the bodega has produced in the past but more recently has been included in the Fusion blend. Bright purple, with very long slow legs, colouring the glass, on the nose very sweet, mature damson and plum fruit but concentrated blackcurrant as well, jammy. In the mouth full, jammy and youthful, very concentrated. A wine to look forward to!

That I think is probably a description that I would be happy to apply to this bodega…..wines to look forward to which are always a pleasure to drink. A bodega which deserves to be better known than is currently the case! Another gem in this wonderful region!

The Bodegas Facade in Sinarcas

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  • Lorna  On January 26, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Dear Riki,
    Can you please tell me if there is a law governing the use of cork -v- sinthetic “corks” in D.O. wines? Someone told me all D.O. wines are obliged by law to use natural cork, but I’m pretty sure the bodegas use sinthetic, or sometimes a combination, as well. If, however, there is such a law, could you please provide me with the relevant references so I can consult it for myself (my Spanish is pretty fluent so not a problem there).


    • rikiwigley  On January 26, 2012 at 7:18 pm

      No law that I am aware of Lorna. DO wines in Valencia, Utiel-Requena, Alicante and IGP wines from Castellon ( which is my area of expertise) come with Cork, silicon or plastic, generally the latter two for wines for drinking within the year. We do have a DO Cork from the Castellon ( Sierra de Espadan) area which is very high quality. Choice is down to what co-ops or bodegas can afford or the winemaker prefers in my experience. Hope this helps! Riki

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