A Visit to Bodega Artesenal José V. Pardo.

Alboenea. The Pardo Marque.


Impressed by the wines I  had tasted last week in Venta del Moro I thought it may be time to pay a visit to the family bodega of Jose Pardo and Amparo Garcia, situated in the hamlet of Los Isidros on the main road to Albacete from Requena. The visit needed to be timely as the harvest has commenced somewhat early in Utiel-Requena this year. The white varieties for Cava ( Macabeo and Chardonnay ) have already been gathered in and near neighbour´s Hispano Suizas have harvested their Sauvignon Blanc.

The harvest is a good ten days earlier this year because there has been no rain since April and the heat has been markedly higher and more consistent. Night temperatures which also bring breezes have been up by up to 10º and maturity has been reached earlier. José has harvested his Chardonnay and  picks his Macabeo this weekend. The reds will follow smartly.

Jose and Amparo took over the family bodega, started by his grandfather in 1940, in 2008 producing their wine that year. It is a distinctly family affair in what can only be described as a large garage. Both Jose and Amparo have other jobs ( Amparo who is the enologist works for Pedro Moreno in nearby Jaraguas). They have 30 hectares including Chardonnay and Macabeo ( which they sell on to the co-op where they are also members) Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Syrah and, of course Bobal! These latter vines are around 40 years old.

Although the bodega still has concrete trullo´s underground the wine is all made in the garage which Jose was cleaning ahead of the next part of the harvest.

In the bodega.

Like many of the specialist new bodegas which are opening up in the area the operation is entirely ecological. The bodega uses the minimum amount of sulphur necessary and no chemicals in the vineyards which are entirely within the Hoces de Cabriel  natural Park in an area known as Albosa. They have not bothered to apply for the agriculture ministries certificate because of the costs involved but do use the symbol of the parks on their back label. If I say production is relatively tiny, (eg  1200 bottles of the bobal crianza, 500 bottles of the rosado ) you can understand why they may not consider the certificate a priority!

“011 Bobal Joven.

Inside the bodega everything is conducted by hand with great care and attention to detail. The grapes arrive in 15kg boxes having been picked by hand and then go through the smallest de-stalking machine I have ever seen! This allows for another manual selection if necessary although Amparo is proud of the quality of the grapes. The whole grapes are then passed to the first deposit and undergo fermentation. Later after a gentle pressing the must is passed to a second deposit or to barrel to undergo malolactic fermentation and then ageing as appropriate. ( The rosado does not undergo malolactic fermentation .) Amparo only uses French oak preferring the vanilla flavours and overall smoothness which it imparts.

Their current stock includes the 2011 Bobal Rosado which is down to about 60 bottles remaining, the Crianza 2008, and a couple of boxes of the young wine sold in bag in box format. There are also Syrah 2010 and Bobal 2008 Reserva,  in the cellars, not yet ready for release onto the market.

The 2011 Bobal joven has already sold out!

The wines are all sold under the Alboenea label, the name coming from a reference to the area where the vineyards are.  And Amparo, who qualified from the Requena wine school under the tutorship of Felix Quartero, also makes wine for friends, using some of the spare capacity which the bodega has. They have a number of friends, many of them now living in Valencia, who own small plots of vines in the area and she will happily turn this into wine for them! The wines are sold mainly directly from the bodega, there is passing trade with holiday makers from Madrid, and some restaurants have taken the wine – notably Los Cubillos in the centre of Requena. There is an online facility to order the wines which are good value quality to price ratio.

The small quantities will be even smaller this year as José reckons the harvest will be up to 40% smaller because of the weather conditions.

Syrah in the Cellars.

This may be to Josés advantage as the bottling and labelling are all done by hand by him ! José has a distinctly Heath-Robinson style labeller which nonetheless is very effective and just emphasises the hand-made nature of the process. One is left with the clear impression that the wine-making is Amparo´s quite distinct domain and that José is responsible for the rest of the process. Down in the cellar he has knocked through the walls of the trullo´s to create an interlinked system of storage for ageing the wine in bottle. Whether the wine has six or sixteen months in oak it always spends a minimum of a year in bottle to stabilise and  evolve before tastings evaluate if the wines are ready for release. Each of the wines, mono-varietals only as Amparo believes blending allows one variety to dominate another, are stored separately by variety and vintage. They hope the 2010 Syrah may be ready for release by Xmas but there was no certainty when we discussed it yesterday!

One is also left with the distinct impression that the bodega will grow, with new lines being introduced as and when possible but that neither Amparo or José are rushing to give up the day job, balancing these with a young son and their own bodega.

Before leaving, armed with a box of wines to sample, including the reserve Bobal 2008 and the Syrah 2010, we tasted the excellent 2011 rosado Bobal which had impressed me so much the previous week in Venta del Moro. This is a strawberry pink/red, clear and bright with good legs. It has a very fruity almost sweet nose, combining red currant with strawberry, hints of bubble-gum and in the mouth a burst of fruit is balanced with lovely fresh acidity and then a sweetness, very full and round. Labelled at 13.5%ABV it is probably around 14% but is a wonderful wine, well chilled it is perfect now!

Rosado 2011 and Crianza 2008. Both Bobal.

A family bodega with a charming couple at the helm, I am sure they have a successful future making wonderful well structured wines and look forward to monitoring progress and tasting new releases in the future!


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