Drilling Down Into Bobal….and a Visitor from Denmark.

Visiting Vera de Estenas.

Visiting Vera de Estenas.

Time perhaps for a little reflection. When I started writing this blog it was meant to be a personal account of my visits and experiences related to wine and gastronomy here in Valencia as well as a way of recording  the tasting notes of the wines  and making them available to others. A personal diary which could be shared.

Now some three years later, the blog is read in 102 countries worldwide. I never expected that, to be truthful I hadn´t even thought about outreach. Spain tops the list, with the U.S., United Kingdom and the Netherlands close behind and Denmark in a very healthy fifth place. Some of my posts have attracted comment, some spam, but some have generated interest in Valencian Wine from elsewhere.

I know of one export company based here who have chosen Valencian wines I have recommended to add to their portfolio, Alizarin Wines from Southfields, London,  are now importing wines from Utiel-Requena and a Danish importer and distributor from Jutland speculatively tried and then bought a palette of the Primum Bobal last year.

It is always a pleasure to put a face to a name, even if it is still a rare event when a reader comes visiting.

Felix Martinez and Jose Luis Perez at Vera de Estenas.

Felix Martinez and Jose Luis Perez at Vera de Estenas.

Yesterday it was the turn of the Danish Importer, Peder Hermansen who has been buying wines from Toni Arraez in Font de  la Figuera ( DO Valencia ) for a couple of years. The Primum Bobal had all sold out in Denmark, …..it has practically done so here as well and we are all awaiting the release of the 2012 in about three weeks time!

Peder was interested to try this new vintage and look for a possible additional wine from the variety for his shop. Once the Association were alerted an invitation to visit two of the bodegas and participate in a comprehensive tasting was offered.

And so we started at Vera de Estenas where Felix Martinez, owner of the bodega and President of the Association waited with Jose Luis Perez of Bodega Pasiego, another bodega member. Following a tour of the bodega we sat down to taste four wines, from other varieties…. a warm up to the main event which was to follow!

The 2010 Pasiego Les Suertes is a 60/40 blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Pale gold, clean, bright and with glycerinous long legs the two grapes were quite clearly identifiable on the nose. Tropical notes, pineapple, acacia flowers. In the mouth the wine is much more harmonious good acidity, well-balanced, lovely fruit and spice. A very nice wine.

In the cellars at Vera de Estenas.

In the cellars at Vera de Estenas.

In contrast we tasted one of the most consistent pure Chardonnay´s produced in the region, the Viña Lidon from Vera de Estenas. The 2011 at 13% ABV is a little paler in colour, clean, bright with gold and green flashes. On the nose it is floral, acacia, then tropical fruits, peaches but all quite subtle. In the mouth it is beautifully balanced, with banana, pineapple, ripe apple flavours and a long satisfying finish. Wonderful.

Next we tried the Malbec, Casa Don Angel from Vera de Estenas. This wine is a blend of two vintages, 2007 and 2008, the former with 14 months crianza and the latter with 2-3 months. The vines were planted in 1999 and are still relatively young, not that this is particularly reflected in what is the bodegas second wine. Medium bodied, cherry red, with good legs, the nose is brambly red and black forest fruits with hints of leather, whilst in the mouth good strawberry and raspberry fruit, an easy drinker with a very long creamy finish. Excellent.

Finally we tried the Pasiego Crianza, Las Blasca 2008, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Merlot with a tiny amount of Bobal. This has had ten months in American and Hungarian oak. medium to deep cherry red, long glycerinous legs, on the nose red and black fruit, damson and plum. In the mouth bramble jam, but quite lean, this is a wine for food.

Bobal Tasting!

Bobal Tasting!

So , having visited the small-scale artisan bodega we moved on to Dominio de la Vega where we were to meet owner Emilio Esposito, wine-maker and son Dani and be accompanied by Pere Mercado who is manager and spokesperson for the Association.

Dominio de la Vega is a much bigger bodega, with large-scale production, 60% of it given over to production of cava. It is therefore a good contrast with the previous visit. Dani provided the commentary on a tour of the gleaming facilities, the cathedral where the barrels are stored and the extensive cellars below with its hundreds of thousands of bottles of cavas resting on their lees.

Dani explained how the grapes for the Primum Bobal are dealt with on arrival, the wine is made here, each parcel of vines being vinified separately. ( This year the vineyards of three of the Associations bodegas involved provided the grapes.)

The final blend depends on the evolution of each parcels wines.

The wines for the tasting were from Vera de Estenas, Pasiego, Finca Ardal, Dominio de la Vega, and were arranged into four `flights´. All the wines have deep cherry red colour, violet edges and long legs. Any comparison would require a wordsmith of rare ability to distinguish meaningfully between them!

Dani, Peder, Jose Luis, Pere and Emilio at Dominio de la Vega.

Dani, Peder, Jose Luis, Pere and Emilio at Dominio de la Vega.

First were the young Bobals, the 2011 and  2012 Primum and the Bobal 2011 Barrica from Dominio de la Vega, a wine with three months in oak and which was first marketed in 2009. All have a generally youthful appearance, all are fruity and deep but two elements emerged. Both the 2012 Primum and the 2011 Barrica have opened up since I last tasted them in late November. The Primum was closed on the nose then, not now, one sniff and you are hit by a positive explosion of fruit, it is fat, concentrated, with better colour, boiled fruits and is very rich. This Primum will fly off the shelves when released. The 2011 Barrica still needs another 2-3 months before it is released. This also is deep and concentrated, has blackcurrant and finishes with the classic chocolate, coffee cream over spice such as liquorice.

The second flight consisted of wines with Bobal as a component and included wines from Vera de Estenas, ( Madurado en Barrica 2011) Dominio de la Vega ( Madurado en Barrica 2011) . The former is a blend of Bobal , Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo with around 4 months in barrel on average and is distinguished by its floral nose with lilac, marmalade, orange peel and in the mouth easy passage across the palate, harmonious with good fruit. The second is a blend of Bobal, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.  On the nose and in colour it is deeper, a little more harmonic and concentrated.

The third flight was wines which were predominantly Bobal , Finca Ardal B2C ( presumably a not yet released cask sample) 100% Bobal and from 2010; Pasiego Bobal 2009 which has 15% Merlot ; and Vera de Estenas Crianza 2009, Bobal with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and  Tempranillo in smaller quantities. The first is perfumed, mature, concentrated, balsamic, with lots of spice, clove, and herbs…bayleaf and thyme. Very full in the mouth. The second has opened up since I first tasted it late last year and now has six months in the bottle. It is fruity, rounder in the mouth, and full of allspice. The third is smoky, fruity, oaky, complex with mature fruit, vanilla and cedar.

The Big Wines!

The Big Wines!

The final flight was the block-busters! Casa Don Angel 2009 100% Bobal from Vera de Estenas;  Ocho Cuerdas  100% Bobal 2005 from Finca Ardal and Arte Mayor IV, Dominio de la Vega, a blend of 2005,2006 and 2007 Bobal from the La Beata vineyard, the best the bodega owns. The wine was released onto the market in December, it is a very approachable, forward wine with a long future ahead of it….definitely one to lay down despite its early fruit. The second wine is marked by its minerality, less fresh and more mature fruit and once again spice and herbs. Deep and very smooth. The Arte Mayor for me remains the most full, mature, concentrated wine from the variety. It has Cacao, spice and coffee creme and really expresses Dani´s style of extracting everything from grapes.

That interestingly led me to consider the other comparisons. It was clear looking back that each bodega has a house style that stood out in this tasting as well as demonstrating a huge diversity in what is available from the variety. This was another very educational opportunity. Thank you Pere for organising it….I have no doubt that Bobal will shortly be winging its way to Denmark again!

Blogging is more than just about what I set out to do some time ago, clearly!

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