Battle of the Bobals!…Las Añadas de Utiel Requena 2012

Last night´s presentation by D.O. Utiel-Requena of the new wines from their associated bodegas was undoubtedly the best edition of the event that I have been to!

Not all the wines that were on show were ready to be launched into the market, others were about to be or had just been launched. This means that some bodegas were frantically filtering wine from deposits as late as yesterday morning in order to be able to show off the results of this summers harvest. For other bodegas a series of tastings and quality controls by the D.O. have led to wines with crianza being declared ready for sale.

Nor should it be forgotten that Requena is also part of D.O. Cava ( some would say the best cavas in Spain are produced here) so there were some new releases in this sector as well.

Bobal de Sanjuan.

The 2012 harvest showed immense promise although a very dry, long, hot summer meant that picking was underway three weeks or so early and apart from the occasional grower who was worried about stressed vines, lack of water and over-maturity there was an overall feeling it was going to be a wonderful year…..albeit between 20 and 30% down in terms of volume.

2012 has also been a very good year for exports from the D.O. and awards at International Competitions as the bodegas and Co-ops have found new confidence in their products and countries such as the UK, Denmark and Japan amongst others have discovered wines from the region and Bobal in particular. The large companies such as Cherubino Valsangiacomo and Murviedro have built on their success but have been joined by Coviñas who must have had the success story of the year! Who will ever forget the Toro Loco release in the UK by Aldi who sold out the first batch of wines in three hours and needed a second lorry load despatching immediately to satisfy demand for Enterizo Tempranillo! Never mind the 50,000 bottles they bought, I understand that Coviñas have done a deal with Aldi to provide 5 million bottles mainly destined for the UK and Denmark.

Visitors to the D.O. are up  as wine tourism in the region takes off. A number of quality `Casa Rurales´and cheap, but good quality hotels are supporting the bodegas in their drive to attract visitors. Requena is an hour from Valencia by road but only an hour from Madrid on the fast train making it easily accessible for day trips, long weekends and serious wine-buying trips.(  More info and offers from ).

Japanese Visitors..and buyers?

Turning to the wines what can we expect to enjoy in the next few months? Well here is my selection from last night. No apologies are made for the concentration on wines from Bobal… clearly has been an exceptional year for this variety. There are Cavas as well to enjoy….but let battle commence!

Bodegas Pasiego who are based in Sinarcas are part of the Association Primum Bobal, (  see Archives for March 2011 .)  The bodega are set to release a Bobal 2010, ( blended with 15% Merlot) which will bear the Associations distinct label. I tasted the elements of this coupage from the deposit on a visit in November 2011 with Javi Prats, now the blended wine shows huge promise. Deep cherry red with long legs, it is 14%ABV. The nose is complex, spicy, hints of wood, black fruits, jam. In the mouth initially lean, then a sudden burst of fruit, balsamic notes but a long finish, predominantly of mature, black cherry fruit. The wine should receive its labels and hit the market in about three weeks time and my feeling is that once it has settled down in the bottle the 8 months crianza in French and American oak will have produced a wine for laying down.

Latorre, the bodega based in Venta del Moro were proudly showing their new white and Rosado. The white is a blend of Verdejo and Viura and is 12%ABV. Bottled for the event the wine was pale lemon, clean, bright and on the nose very fresh with gooseberry fruit. In the mouth beautiful balance, fresh, crisp and dry with a long fruity finish. A much better colour than the 2011 and in my view a crisper , better wine for summer drinking.

The rosado is Bobal. The 2012 has to follow the 2011 which was declared best Rosado from the region. One of three superb Rosados on the night, it is strawberry pink, a little lighter than in some years, with a violet edge. On the nose there are the usual suspects…bananas, bubble-gum, boiled sweets and in the mouth the balance is perfect. Good acidity blends with the crisp, dry acidity, great fruit flavours and a long finish.  Both wines should be available from February.

Pasiego Bobal 2010.

Next up was a visit to Dominio de la Vega. In the spring of 2010 they released a Bobal, with six months in barrel including fermentation. Dani Esposito, the wine-maker had produced a textbook wine….incredible depth, flavour, colour….a wine which you could open and explain to others  the range of flavours and scents and concentration that Bobal is capable of producing. Sadly it sold out very quickly and those cafe-creme notes are sadly a memory! The 2010 was from a difficult year but after several months in bottle, with only three months crianza, the wine was ok but only a pale shadow of its predecessor. So we have all been waiting for the 2011. Sadly the distributors did not like the 2009, it was too powerful they said for the market. Therefore the 2011 will follow the 2010 with only three months in oak, it has wonderful colour, good legs and on the nose bags of fruit. In the mouth it is full-bodied, meaty, but needs time to evolve and will not be released until May. I loved it but it will not I think reach the heights of the 2009. Memo to Dani. Next time keep one barrel with six months oak just for me!

Back to Primum Bobal, another wine with the Dani Esposito style! The 2011 has been a massive hit, selling well and again being a good example of a young Bobal with good varietal characteristics. The 2012 which was bottled for the event is better still! Immensely deep black cherry with a violet edge, very long legs and colouring the glass. The nose is still quite closed but in the mouth the potential shines through. Hints of deep mature fruit, jam, well-balanced and fresh. Again this will need time in bottle but when it is released in january this will be a wine to buy for the future, or for summer drinking chilled. Wonderful!

Now to another success story, the Bobals from San Juan. This bodega has traditionally sold its wines in bulk. This year they went into partnership with Cherubino Valsangiacomo and with input from Bruno Murciano,  a somellier from the area who famously introduced the wines of Dagon to the Ritz Hotels, have produced a Rosado and red wine. I was lucky enough to try both 2011´s in June in Utiel but had been unable to obtain any to use in tastings. Cherubino do not sell to individuals and in any case, these wines were intended for export! The rosado sold out very quickly but the 2012 was available to taste, Pale strawberry, clean, very bright with a violet edge and long legs. On the nose the wine is heaving with fruit, bubble-gum, whilst in the mouth it was also full, balanced with good acidity. Another potentially wonderful wine….if you can find it!

Ana Suria of Pago de Tharsys
Chardonnay Cava.

Having finally tracked down a couple of bottles of the 2011 red, I showed this at a tasting last Saturday where it was joint wine of the night! From 80-year-old vines, it is deep cherry red, violet flashes and long legs. On the nose ripe fruit, it has a slightly toasty nose although there is no oak ageing. In the mouth, full, very concentrated fruit, good acidity and with a lovely long finish. A cracker with potential for ageing. Can I have some more please?

From one young Bobal to one with a pedigree! Vera de Estenas 2009, Bobal Casa Don Angel. Latest wine from this bench-mark bodega producing consistently excellent wines , especially from their 100-year-old vines. I had tasted this previously from the barrel, nw the finished wine which is about to be marketed. It has had seven months in bottle and is evolving nicely. Again a very deep cherry with violet edge and long legs ( 14.5% ABV) on the nose a lovely mix of fruit, red and black, mint, and balsamics from the oak. In the mouth quite forward, fruity, with rounded tannins, very well-balanced with great depth. It almost has a sweetness from the concentrated fruit. This is a wine with a long, long life ahead of it!

Always worth a visit is the stand of Carlos Carcel, the only producer of a maceración  carbonica Bobal in the D.O. His 2012 is 13% ABV, and was also just bottled for the event, after  just finishing its malolactic fermentation. Yet again a deep cherry colour with long glycerinous legs, on the nose lovely concentrated fruit and strawberry jam, fresh. In the mouth good fruit, depth, long finish, this went down very well with some English friends.

Finally, amongst the Bobals at least, Coviñas were showing the new 2012 Al Vent Rosado. This wine in 2010 was also winner of the best rosado from the region, the first of the accolades wines from this range have received! The 2012 is a lovely strawberry pink, very bright, clean and with long slow legs. On the nose bubble-gum, strawberry, boiled sweets and in the mouth, fresh, beautiful red fruit flavours, balancing acidity, a great mouthful with a long finish. I will be having this when it is released. Another fantastic wine Diego!

Now for a comparison of two new cavas, both from Chardonnay, one from a giant entity, the other from a small bodega.

First up a new wine from Murviedro. Corolilla Brut D.O Cava is 12% ABV, with 12 months crianza. Pale yellow, a good crown, fine persistent bubbles. On the nose god, some yeast, a lot of fruit, some tropical, whilst in the mouth good attack, fruity, pears and apples, good length. A nice easy drinking cava, satisfying. This is retailing at around 9€ a bottle.

By comparison Pago de Tharsys Blanc de Blanc Brut Nature Chardonnay has 16 months crianza. Pale lemon, clean, brilliant , good crown, very fine, slow , persistent bubbles on the nose there is patisserie, butter, fruit, white flowers, actually a very complex and deep nose. In the mouth very full, complex, fruity, and with great structure. Rich, long , satisfying finish. 13€. A phenomenal addition to their range of excellent cavas, the extra crianza makes all the difference and lifts this wine several levels.

Once again there were one or two other wines tasted whilst chatting to bodega owners and getting a strong feeling for the quiet confidence being felt in the DO. Yes one or two bodegas have closed this year but on the evidence of what was available to taste, finding the best Rosado in the region will be a difficult task this year! The new wines are undoubtedly better than last years at this stage and we can all look forward to a fantastic year drinking wines from Utiel-Requena in 2013.

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