Venta del Moro, a Wine-fair with a Difference.


Traditional Dance in Fiesta!

Venta del Moro is a pretty little town, about an hour from Valencia and sits on the Utiel-Requena plain, in the heart of the vineyards. Each year  the town, like any other in Spain, holds its annual fiesta , including all sorts of cultural events such as a book-fair. Located on the edge of the Hoces de Cabriel, a national park, used for all sorts of outdoor pursuits Venta del Moro enjoys a more varied industry than some of its neighbours.

Agriculture, in particular wine and olives are nonetheless a mainstay of the economy.

In fact Venta del Moro is the centre of a wider population including as it does the hamlets of Jaraguas, Casas de Pradas, Las Monjas, Los Marcos, Casa de Moya, Los Isidros and Casas del Rey. Many of these are also centres in their own right with either privately owned bodegas or Cooperatives all making their own wines. One night in each fiesta the town convenes in the market place to enjoy a tasting of these wines, some food produced by the Amas de Casa  and a very sociable event it is too.

Traditional Local Dishes.

This year the event began with an exhibition of local dance accompanied by Fermin Pardo and Cantares Viejos which drew a larger and attentive crowd than normal and many of the exhibiting bodegas had to wait before customers started to filter through to taste their wines!

The local housewives association ( Amas de Casa)  provide a meal which is included in the 5€ entry price. gazpacho manchego is a traditional dish and the town has its own version, gazpacho venturreño, which is served with the local embutidos ( sausages) and tacos ( morro) and followed by orejas ( a bunuelo with sugar and cinnamon). Last night the gazpacho was a little more picante than I remember from previous visits,  a real pleasure to eat!

The bodegas represented were Latorre and La Union from within the town itself, Proexa, Dagon, Virgen del Carmen,  J  V Pardo, Jaraguense and a beer from Altura de Vuelo, a local artesan brewery.

Alboenea from Pardo.

With the better known Aranleon and Finca el Renegado and Casa lo Alto not exhibiting this year the smaller bodegas had a good opportunity to shine.

New to me is the bodega of Jose Pardo whose vineyards are ecological and entirely within the national park. This entitles him to use both the ecologic certificate from the Ministry of Agriculture as well as the symbol of the parks. An artesan bodega, the family firm is in its fourth generation and has vines with more than 40 years of age. They are sold under the Alboenea label and two wines, both from Bobal, were on offer last night.

The first was the 2011 Rosado, 13.5% ABv and a good strawberry pink, clear and bright. On the nose unmistakable strawberry, whilst in the mouth there was a perfect balance of fruit and acidity with a long fruity finish. I was very impressed with this wine.

The second was the 2008 Crianza, six months in oak with a further year in bottle before release. This was a deep cherry colour, with a good fruity nose despite being chilled and in the mouth had lots of fruit, smooth tannins and a long round finish. A bodega to visit soon!

Tinto from Jaraguense.

Bobal was to feature strongly amongst other wines on show. For example Jaraguense, the Co-op wine from Jaraguas were also a showing a rosado from bobal equally fresh, a little drier than the Alboenea, and with a satisfying long finish.

Co-op La Union also had a bobal on offer. their three wines are available in bag in box format and we tried firstly the white from Macabeo, a good fresh white with hints of anis and ripe white fruit ( melon and apple). The rosado from bobal is also a fresh fruity wine, an easy drinker. The red, Vadocañas de Cencibel ( Tempranillo ) from 2010 has had no oak ageing but was fragrant, smoky and aromatic whilst fresh and satisfying in the mouth. Simple wines but very pleasant.

Vadocañas Cencibel.

Proexa is a bodega in Los Marcos which I visited in August last year ( Archives August 11 2011 ) and whose wines I had first encountered on my initial visit to this fair in 2010 ( archives 7 August 2010).  We tasted again the Valterra and the Aldobanes and it remains a shame the wines are not readily available locally, most being sold to Germany.

Dagon were showing their excellent dulce from bobal an aged, sweet almost port style of wine but with no added alcohol, the depth and sweetness obtained from the late harvesting of the grapes…..normally well into December. tantalizingly there were also bottles, unopened,  of both a 2003 Macabeo and a sparkling wine. Dagon is a member of the Primum Bobal association the group of seven bodegas from Utiel-Requena dedicated to improving both knowledge  and quality of the variety.

Finally amongst the bodegas Latorre were also showing a range of their wines, whites from Macabeo and Viura and Verdejo and  reds from the Duque de Arcas range, but sadly the Parreño rosado, an award-winning wine, has now all but sold out.

The beer from Cervezas Fernandez Pons is one of a growing range of traditional style ales being produced across Valencia. malty and full of fruity flavours it is a satisfying ale,  fermented  (and with a natural yeast deposit) in the bottle.

We met many people during the evening , underlying the friendly and family nature of the fair which is now firmly in the calendar for future visits! Roll on next August!

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