Back to Basics? ….A Look at some Cooperative Wines.


Pedralba Wine Club.

Over the last couple of weeks, with the over-indulgence of Xmas behind us, I thought it might be time to look at some of the wines produced by Co-operatives within the Valentino district of D.O. Valencia. This is one of the sub-divisions of the D.O. and takes in two quite specific areas. First is the area around the towns of Alcublas, Villar d´Arzobispo, Lliria, Casinos, Pedralba , and Chulilla……towns that sit at  between 200 and 650m above sea level and where Merseguera, Plantafina, Macabeo and Pedro-Ximinez provide the white wines and Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo the reds. The long  valley which holds another ( `Alto Turia´) sub-division climbs away from here Westwards towards Titaguas and Alpuente and vineyards up to 900 metres.

The second sub-division of Valentino however is dedicated to Moscatel, normally Alexandria or Romano, taking its name from the grapes which in Roman times provided the popular wines from Valentia which were exported to the entire Roman Empire. This sub-division includes towns such as Chiva, Cheste, Godelleta, Montroy, Monserrat and Turis. There are red grapes grown here and sold  by the local co-ops and organisations such as Bodegas Vinival who are bulk wine traders. The Moscatels are king ( or queen ) here, producing Mistelas or Vinos de Licor, sweet wines stopped by adding alcohol to preserve the natural sugars but there are dry whites from the same variety, dry and sweet espumosas and even an Orujo commercialised in the zone.

And although many of these wines are first choice for locals who still go to the co-operatives to buy their daily tipple, for drinking with elevenses or lunch, they are often far from basic and there are some traditional wines produced across the two zones which appear to be  largely unknown in Valencia itself !

It is just coming up to two years since I became involved with setting up a tasting club in Pedralba. Today there are members from Monserrat and Torrente and Vilamarxant as well. It was for the first tasting that I initially went looking for some wines from local producers rather than looking for top bodegas, there would hopefully be opportunities to look at some of these at later tastings…….just what we have done in fact, sampling wines from Castellon, Utiel-Requena, Alicante as well as all the parts of D.O.Valencia.

As the next tasting is in Monserrat I thought it might be time to go back, look at some of the bodegas we had first sampled and see if there was anything new.

Ximo Semillon.

I started in Villar D´Arzobispo, where the El Villar and Comeche bodegas have provided wines in the past. Although Comeche continues to produce quality wines , quite  a lot of it exported, apart from buying several litres of the excellent Rancio Solera for my barrel at home there was nothing new whilst next door in the new shop from which El Villar sell their wines I found a Semillon, sold under the Ximo label. Semillon is a newly permitted variety, wines were only beginning to be produced from a couple of experimental plots when I arrived. There were as I was told small plots in the Turia valley and up near Siete Aguas. Covibex, the Valencian experimental bodega in Chiva, a modern establishment built to replace  local bodegas in Lliria, Bugarra, Gestalgar, Pedralba and Vilamarxant produced a basic dry semillon and a barrel fermented version both of which I tried some time back. The Semillon from El Villar is 12.5% ABV, from the 2010 vintage. A straw colour, green and golden flashes, clean and bright. On the nose nice acidity, I was surprised at the ripe fruit, honey and citric notes which evolved and as the wine opens across the palate these were added to by green apple, as well as hints of peaches. The back lable suggests the wine is good with seafood, shell-fish and white meat. We had it with clochinas al vapor, Valencian mussels in a little wine with lemon and garlic. Perfect! An inexpensive wine at 2.20€ a bottle and one which I will now be stocking!

Nothing much seemed to have changed at the Co-op in Casinos which dates to 1952. We had tried their astonishing Vi Dolç at the first tasting….Xmas pudding in a glass!

Pedralba´s wine making ended at the co-op a few years ago and now the wines are made in a big co-op on the A3 motorway. So nothing new there although the Bonachon  brand remains a very good sweet wine.

The new wines from Cheste Agraria, the co-op which produces Reymos were covered in my post on the second Sweet wine Fair held in Valencia at the DO HQ in Calle  Quart.

Wines from Godelleta.

So I crossed the motorway and headed to Godelleta, the first town on this stretch of the CV 50 which runs down through the pretty countryside towards the coast. Acting on a tip-off I wanted to see what else was being produced apart from the honeyed Moscatel Vino de Licor. Well what a surprise was awaiting! Three additions to the range I had not seen or tasted before!

First of these is a white dry Moscatel, Castillo Godelleta and 12%ABV. Produced from a selection of grapes which are young and fruity, all Moscatel de Alejandria, the wine is a product of cold maceration and cold fermentation. This has resulted in a pale yellow wine, clean, bright and lighter than the Semillon. On the nose it is fresh, aromatic with hints of apricots and in the mouth it retains its freshness, good acidity, and fruit which grows but remains subtle ending with a nice mineraly, long dry finish. A nice wine as an aperitif as well as good with the clochinas! I find this an interesting wine, clearly produced to compete with Alicante dry moscatels such as Marina Alta and Bahia de Denia. For me it is not quite there yet but…..at 1.90€ it is half the price and very good value price to quality.

Also new to me was an 11.5% Espumoso ( we are outside the Cava DO and in any case it is from a non-permitted variety )  Moscatel . Fine bubbles rise through this yellow gold wine, bright  and with hints of green apples, white flowers and lemon peel on the nose. In the mouth I was expecting a sweet wine but no, it is dry, rich and with just that subtle hint of fresh sweet fruit, A good long finish, a satisfying wine. Bottled for the bodega by Pago de Tharsys and at 4.50€ a bottle of something else to try at the Monserrat tasting.

Newly Pruned Moscatel Vine.

Finally and keeping up the association with Pago de Tharsys I spotted the Orujo in its slim black box……  Orujo is rather more traditional in Galicia than here in Valencia, where you tend to see the variety steeped with herbs, in bars. However Pago de Tharsys in Requena have been commercialising their orujo from  Albarino for a while and BOCOPA, the Alicante Co-operative also commercialise a pure orujo from Moscatel. This one is a bargain 12.10€ a bottle ( 50cl) and has been added to the cellar!

Armed with enough wines for the next tasting it seems I will need to visit some of the other Cooperatives in DO Valencia shortly….. Alto Turia and Clariano here we come!

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