Pago de Tharsys, a Very Special Tasting to Celebrate 10 Years!

The Bronx Tunnel.

I am on record as saying that vertical tastings are as rare as hens teeth in Valencia! However this is the third I have been invited to in the last twelve months…and there is a very special one still to come!

Pago de Tharsys, the first bodega I visited in the Valencia region, the one I have visited most and watched the development most closely of over the last eight years. It is also the most visited bodega on the Utiel-Requena  wine route, one of Spain’s best and one of the bodegas I am always happy to take visitors to on tours.

Today, owners Ana Suria and Vicente Garcia, wine makers, owners and genial hosts decided to open the doors to a small group of professional wine-tasters, sommeliers, bloggers and Paco Higon and Dani Cervera from Verema…Spains premier wine site on the internet.


Our visit was to taste some old wines from the cellars but also to look over the facilities as they are currently set out. For the first time I actually saw the Albariño and Godelo varieties, natives to Galicia, growing in the stony ,poor soil of the pago. We also visited the plots where the Cabernet Franc grow as well as seeing the trellised lunacy of the Bronx……a New York variety which I am certain has some Corinto in it ( whether as a cross or hybrid ) which makes the bodegas stunningly good dulce.

We moved from here to the deposits, quickly through the bottling area and the barrel park to the distillery and then thankfully, via the cellar to the tasting room!

Now look, I am normally quite laid back about tasting….I can wait! Trouble is I knew what was on offer and patience was a bit in short supply today!

Tasting Table.

When an amateur, such as I am, gets an invitation in company like this, there is more than an air of anticipation. More than a hint of concern! This is a real opportunity to learn about and understand how to appreciate the soil, the varieties and the wine-makers art in the Valencian region because you have to understand wine has only been bottled here for 30 years. There is no tradition of keeping wine to see how it  develops…a point made very clearly by Ana.

We were to taste eight wines…a reasonable amount by any measure. Three whites from the Vino nocturno, the white made from a blend of Albariño and Godello, from the 2009, 2008 and 2005 vintages. Vino Nocturno? Yes, the grapes are picked at night when the temperatures drop off and the vines are less stressed. The picking , by hand, is undertaken by a group of volunteers, chosen by ballot who are rewarded by a good breakfast and a promise of a bottle of the finished wine!

Three reds were to follow from the Selección Bodega….a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot from the vintages of 2004, 2003 and 2002.

Ana Suria with the Distinctive Unico!

And then two `cavas´, firstly the outstanding blanc de noirs ( blanco de negro) which is 100% Bobal, the local grape variety and then the Millesimé Rosado, a Garnacha from 2009, the only Spanish pink cava to win the prestigious Gran Medallo de Oro!

Get the picture? We are not playing with an average bodega here, this is special! We are talking about wines which sell for good money, reflecting the quality that the effort of producing them warrants. A purely ecological production, a huge element of knowledge and experience amongst the enologists but mainly a passion to produce  quality, easy drinking wines.

So, to the tasting now I have wetted your appetite!

In Galicia Albariño produces some wonderful wines with citrus, tropical fruit and well-balanced acidity….what does Valencia´s mediterranean sun do to it? Well you might expect blowsy over-ripe fruit and an over the top wine. None of it, the wines from Pago de Tharsys are full of acidity to balance the fruit, yes they have a southern quality but they most surely are not white wines to drink within a year of production!

The 2009 already with almost three years of age, was a good full yellow, clean, clear, bright and with long slow legs. On the nose white flowers, quite a lot of acacia, sweet ripe apple, concentrated. By contrast in the mouth, fresh, beautiful acidity, lively, with a hint of anise and a long fresh satisfying finish.

The 2008 was practically similar to the eye.  Maybe a little fresher on the nose initially, white flowers, citrus, ripe melon and very complex. In the mouth slightly drier, grapefruit. Now, initially I thought this was a slightly less complex wine than its predecessor but as it opened up I changed my mind. This is a very complex wine with a future which I think will be better than the 2009.

Art in the barrel park.

The 2005 was gold, old gold, clear, clean, bright and with incredibly slow , long legs. On the nose this was concentrated, complex, mature fruit, almost like a pear jam, but…in the mouth you could add buckets of honey, butter, a wine which reminded me of good old Rieslings or Semillons from Australia. Please buy these  wines when young, stick them  away in the cellar and forget about them for at least ten years….you will be well rewarded!!!

The Selección Bodega is  described as younger brother to the Reserva. It is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. We were to taste the 2004, 2003 and 2002.

You can say without any contradiction each of these wines has its own character! There was a general feeling that in a blind tasting you could be fooled into believing they were classic Bordeaux wines and the alcohol was generally so well-integrated as to be un-noticeable! Not bad for Eastern Spanish wines!

The 2004 was medium to full density, cherry, even to the edge and with long legs. On the nose there was an explosion of jammy fruit, mature, sweet cherry boiled sweets. In the mouth some found black olives, blackcurrants, sweet cherry, and personally I thought there was a hint of terruño. dry raspberries but with a long satisfying finish with hints of bitter chocolate.

The 2003 was very similar in colour, density and the legs. On the nose you could add a hint of medicine , balsamics and in the mouth the fruit was sweeter, very smooth tannins and toffee. I actually like this best for current drinking.

The 2002 could barely be distinguished for its colour. This wine, unlike the previous two had only just been opened. It evolved almost faster than I could note the changes! Initially a hint of age on the nose, vegetal, then sweet cherry, then later still hints of asphalt! In the mouth a little lighter, chocolate, caramel, very smooth, soft tannins and a long finish…..wonderful wine!

Comparing the Colour of the Three Reds.

We also tasted two cavas. The 2007 Unico which is 100% Bobal and a blanc de noirs is up there with my favourite cavas. Pale yellow with persistent bubbles, fine, clear, bright. On the nose white flowers, patisserie, cream. In the mouth ripe melon and almonds, white chocolate and cream. This is pure class and better value than many branded champagnes!

Finally we tasted the award-winning Millesime 2009 Rosado from Garnacha. A pale rose-pink, very French, fine persistent bubbles, good crown.

On the nose strawberries and cream, which in the mouth was balanced by the fresh acidity, a good attack …..actually a superb mouthful….loved it!

My thanks to Ana and Vicente for an invitation in such hallowed company. It is always a pleasure to show wines from Pago de Tharsys and to visit and they deserve a wider appreciation….especially in the UK!

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