Officially the 24th Wine , Cava and Spirits and 22nd Valencian Food Fair , the annual `mostra´ has been plying its trade since Monday evening and carries on until Sunday evening, in the dry riverbed in the city’s centre. A week later than originally announced due to its original coincidence with the Andalusian Fair and a big beer festival `Oktoberfest´ (sic) in the bull-ring causing problems for exhibitors and organisers alike.
Given the crisis in Spain and the change of dates at the last-minute, not to mention many other fairs where Valencian wine could be displayed and enjoyed it is perhaps not surprising that there are fewer participants this year with some big names missing!
Due to very recent surgery my own visits have been limited to a couple of the evening sessions but I still hope to spend Saturday there as well before the fair closes for another year.
Valencian wine, in common with much Spanish wine, has found an increasing market abroad in the last twelve months, not just bulk wines but also small quality bodegas. This is true of Valencian wines as well, Chozas Carrascal and Vera de Estenas both now have a toe-hold in London through Alizarin wines, Dominio de la Vega are selling cavas through Layton´s, an independent small wine-merchant serving private customers and restaurants (and which I well remember from the `80 s) , Torroja has been selling wine in UK supermarkets for a while as have relative giants Murviedro and Gandia for some time.
Making its debut this year is Primum Bobal. I have reported on the Association Primum Bobal, the Requena based organisation taking its name from the local grape variety ( see archives) which seeks to inprove on the quality of the variety and is researching clones, soil quality etc as well as promoting the wines from the seven bodegas which currently form it. Although I have been lucky to try deposit samples a couple of times before, most notedly in December last year, the wine has now been released in its distinct, blue-labelled bottle with braille. Pere Mercador, spokesperson for the group has been ably dispensing samples to all showing interest!
The aim has been to produce a wine which expresses well the typicity of the variety. Chosen from vineyards with a minimum age of 65 years, and with a rigourous selection of grapes for the final selection, the wine has been made by wine makers in the vanguard of enology with the variety.
And they have succeeded! Bobal can have an incredible depth of fruit and this young wine displays this by the bucket load! An intense cherry red with long legs and a purple blue edge. On the nose cherry, strawberry and raspberry with a spicy note, whilst in the mouth the fruit is balanced by a fresh acidity, particularly notable being boiled sweets. This is a young fruity fresh `nouveau´and well worth the wait for its release!
It is always nice to chat with friends at this fair and I had a brief opportunity to talk with Mariano Taberner of Bodegas Cueva. Some changes are afoot at the bodega and new partners are being sought for the enterprise. For those who wish to part own a bodega and make their own wine this is an innovative opportunity. Mariano has always adopted an innovative approach to biodynamic wine-making. He is prepared to share that experience with new partners making the facilities of the bodega available together with training in wine making as well as a space where those partners can hold events and meals and stay at the bodega which dates from the 18th century, in the hamlet of La Portera. More information direct from Mariano ( www.bodegascueava.com).
It must not be forgotten that the fair follows the annual tasting by Els bodeguers, the independent wine-shops of the region. Many of the wines selected are showcased at the fair and notable winners from Castellon this year were DiVinos with their Odisea and Perdicion wines claiming three prizes in different categories. We enjoyed a glass of the Rosado from Cabernet Sauvignon with its red currant fruit with Carmina from the bodega.
On the subject of Rosados we also tried the Parreño from pure Bobal with Louis LaTorre and Manel Guasp from the Venta del Moro bodega which is also a prizewinner….most notably knocking the Coviñas brands of their traditional top spots. Together with the excellent Rosado from Merlot from Finca Collado, summer drinking is going to be exceptional in 2012!!!!!!
Thankfully the cheeses from Cati, La Sabina and Gozales Romero from sheep and goats milk are available again this year together with a fine range of local sausages, breads, chocolate and of course the special clochinas ( mussels) from the region. More of these after Saturday´s visit!
There is also an increasing number of real ales in bottles being produced in Valencia, with micro-breweries spring up all over. This fair seems to have around eight stalls showing these beers some of which will need further examination.
One bodega which warranted further examination in the early part of the fair was Los Pinos the Fontanars based bodega whose wines I have not seen for a couple of years. Immediately it can be said that this is a bodega which I have on my list to visit. Enrique Francisco enthusiastically showed us three wines from this ecologic bodega.
The first was a white `Brote´from Verdil and Viognier, the former from vines with 70 years of age. Pale rose gold, clean and bright with long legs. On the nose tropical fruits, lots of natural sugar and very concentrated. The wine is barrel fermented in french oak before stabilisation in stainless steel to harmonise the fruit with the oak…and very successfully! In the mouth the wood is nicely balanced with rich fruit and fresh acidity……I have noted this is one of the best whites so far tried at the fair…..right up there with Finca Collado 2011, Vera de Estenas Macabeo 2011 and Marsilea Gewurtztraminer 2011.
The Tinto Barrica is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Tempranillo, is a multiple prizewinner at overseas fairs. A very young medium to deep cherry red, with very long legs. On the nose wonderful fruit, black cherries, a sweetness, jam, fruits of the forest. It also has violets in-depth, for me a hint of Syrah which adds a spikiness to the blend. In the mouth this is marked as touch of bitterness in the wonderful cherry fruit which rolled over and around the tongue! A lovely wine.
Third wine was Los Pinos 0% a brave wine with no preservatives at all……not a non-alcoholic wine! As well as being slphur free the wine was produced by natural yeasts rather than starter variety. Rafa Cambra who is consultant Enologist to the bodega has blended 50%Monastrell, with around 25% each of Garnacha and Syrah. The young wine was purple, coating the glass, and very deep with very long glycerinous legs.
On the nose very young but jammy fruit, concentrated, with a touch of vanilla. In the mouth an explosion of fruit and memories of a wine which needs time to settle and evolve in bottle before I evaluate it again.
A good start to a fair with its usual very friendly atmosphere and generous welcomes from many bodegas such as Vera de Estenas, Chozas Carrascal, Vinya Natur and others still to visit!
And so to rest before taking to the crutches for a final visit and a chat with some very specific bodegas tomorrow!