Monthly Archives: February 2013

From Ear-rings to Dulces…..The Winemakers from D.O. Jumilla Visit Valencia.


 

Selection of Wines from Bodegas Salzillo.

Selection of Wines from Bodegas Salzillo.

 

 

DO Jumilla, inaugurated in 1966, lays claim to be one of the oldest in Spain and with a longer history of wine-making on the peninsular than any other.

Jumilla lies to the South and West of Alicante Province in the Province of Murcia and is certainly well-known for its red wines from Monastrell although with the exception of Casa de la Ermita you wont find much of it in the shops of Valencia. On the route followed by the Phoenicians and Iberian peoples archeological remains carbon-date grape pips to 3000BC  and ear-rings ( found on male skeletons in local Necropolae ) in the shape of grape bunches denote their warriors were dedicated to vine-growing.

Sitting between the DO´s of Castilla La Mancha and  Valencia the grape varieties are largely similar to those grown here. In whites they grow Airen, Macabeo, Pedro Ximinex, Malvasia, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Moscatel. In reds Garnacha, Monastrell, Garnacha Tintorera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot.

Around seventeen of the 44 bodegas affiliated to the DO were showing their wines last night in the Valencia Palace Hotel and I selected a few to taste, looking forward to finishing on the sweet reds for which the DO has a good reputation.

I started with the traditional  bodega Xenysel, run by the Martínez Verdú family. Here tradition is combined with ecologic practices and the first wine was a Monastrell 2009Vino Joven. At 14%ABV it was showing well, pale strawberry red, medium bodied with good legs. On the nose sweet fruit, strawberry and cherry and in the mouth initially quite jammy, concentrated fruit followed by a long dry finish with afternotes of strawberry fruit. A very easy drinker.

Second wine from this bodega was the Pie Franco Joven 2011. At 14.5% ABV this had more concentrated colour and is a young style wine from old vines. Deeper in colour the legs were long and glycerinous. On the nose it was still a little closed as it was initially in the mouth but the depth is there with powerful mature fruit lurking to emerge in due course!

The third wine was a step up again, Xenysel 12 Meses which as it name suggests has had 12 months crianza, in French and American oak, all new. The grapes are selected by quality from goblet pruned vines and the wine again has a deeper cherry colour with solid long slow legs. On the nose you could immediately differentiate between the oak and the fruit which were perfectly balanced with hints of vanilla and other spices. In the mouth this is a powerful meaty wine but balanced, silky and with a very long finish, mainly of mature red fruits and vanilla.

The bodega has its own website www.xenysel.com/  and blog at www.xenysel.wordpress.com/ as well as an on-line shop. I would be happy to have these wines in the cellar!

Next bodega was Salzillo who were showing a good range and I started with the white Macabeo 12.5%ABV. Hispalis Blanco has a touch of Moscatel in it too. It is a very pale lemon colour clean, bright with a very expressive nose, lots of tropical fruit, peach, apricot, banana and white flowers, acacia. In the mouth the fruit was balanced perfectly with a fresh acidity making it an easy drinking, commercial  wine.

Camelot, Tinto Dulce.

Camelot, Tinto Dulce.

Hispalis Sauvignon Blanc is similarly very pale in colour, clean bright and with good legs. On the nose more white flowers, acacia, gooseberry and tropical fruit, pineapple. In the mouth, crisp, fresh,  easy to drink with a long elderflower finish. Very nice.

We moved on the Zenzate range from the bodega, mono-varietals, and started with the Monastrell. Made from vines with more than 60 years of age, intense cherry red, long legs and on the nose, mature fruit, floral notes, (violet) in the mouth it is expressive, a burst of fruit, meaty, passes across the palate really well and with a long fruity finish. Very nice.

Second wine from this range was the Cabernet Sauvignon with four months in barrica. Youthful, strong deep red colour, very long legs, this had only recently been bottled. On the nose sweet, jammy fruit, mature, meaty ( almost roast beef) and in the mouth meaty, powerful, black fruits, blackberry and spice , clove, long finish. This needs a couple of months more in bottle but I loved it!

We turned to the bodega´s Matius 2008 a pure Monastrell with six months in barrica. From low production vines I was expecting something concentrated. Intense cherry colour, with purple shades. On the nose, mature red and black fruits with spicy notes and in the mouth, deep, concentrated, oak, chocolate, powerful, silky…….lovely!

And then to try the Dulce! Monastrell is capable of producing outstanding deep, sweet red wines with hints of figs, black olives, capers, and Bodegas Salzillo have Camelot! This wine is an intense,  deep, red cherry and on the nose there were very ripe plums, figs, dried grapes, one of those wines you can just sniff…no need to drink…..until you try it! Luscious, this wine is heaven in a glass, figs, sweet overmature mature fruits such as plum, but with sufficient acidity to avoid becoming cloying. Perfect with soft fruits, pate, foie gras and or blue cheeses. Wonderful!

www.bodegassalzillo.com/

Wines from Luzón.

Wines from Luzón.

 

Next I turned the three wines Bodegas Luzon were showing. First up was Luzon 2012, a Monastrell/Syrah blend 70-30%. Very nice deep colour, medium bodied cherry red, long legs. On the nose the two varieties stood apart each with their own characteristics showing, cherry, raspberry, fruits of the forest. In the mouth well-balanced, with spiky red fruits, smoke and liquorice. A really nice drinker!

The Luzón Roble 2011, is 100% Monastrell with 14%ABV and 4 months in French and American oak. Deep red with a violet rim, long legs. On the nose red mature fruits, touches of oak, cream, and in the mouth well structured, lively, meaty, spicy but smooth and easy to drink.

Altos de Luzón 2008 is a blend of Monastrell 50% with 25% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo. 12 months oak ageing in French and American oak follows fermentation and the wine is deep purple with a garnet edge, very long legs. On the nose the word is elegant, mature fruit, jam, plums, with spices, vanilla, chocolate. In the mouth a smooth, elegant, complex red, well-balanced and structure, oak, chocolate mature deep plummy fruit swirl across the palate and the ripe tannins and smooth texture make this a real pleasure to drink!

http://www.bodegasluzon.com/

Selection from San Dionisio.

Selection from San Dionisio.

Time to switch and look at a typical Cooperative. Bodegas San Dionisio  were showing a wide range of wines from which  I selected a few for contrast.

The Sauvignon Blanc with which we started was from the Mainetes range. Clean, bright, not much colour and on the nose white flowers, sweet apple and in the mouth minerally . A dry white without much fruit……..And sadly much could be said for the Macabeo, Señorio de Fuentálamo.

The Señorio Fuentálamo Monastrell/Syrah Crianza 2009 had at least a nice cherry red colour and whilst the nose was overoaked, the fruit in the mouth was much better strawberry and vanilla predominating.

The Mainetes Petit Verdot 2010 was quite different. Nice medium to full-bodied, black cherry with long legs on the nose the oak was right…. balsamicos, toasty , cherries, and in the mouth  full-bodied, mature fruit, long finish. A well structured wine.

Finally from this bodega the Selección 2009, a blend of Monastrell, Syrah, and Merlot  also impressed.  Ruby, clean bright, long legs. On the nose mature red fruits, spicy, coffee and chocolate. In the mouth fresh balanced and with a long finish of mature fruit. Smooth!

Unctuous Dulce from Santiago Apostol!

Unctuous Dulce from Santiago Apostol!

 

Bodegas Santiago Apostol was created by a group of producers in 1950, their first wine emerging in the excellent 1952 vintage. Today  they have around 650 members and 3600 hectares in production. I looked at their top range `Oferente´and started with the white from Airen. The most widely planted white grape in Spain, this wine was pale straw yellow, clean, bright, with medium legs. On the nose white flowers, tropical fruits. In the mouth light, fresh, fruity and easy to drink.

The 2011 Joven Monastrell had an intense purple colour, violet edge with long legs. On the nose cherry fruit, clean, wood fruits, and in the mouth balanced, a little smoky, long finish.

The 2009 Monastrell Crianza was again a step up. With six months crianza and then six months in bottle. Ruby red with terracotta edge, long legs, on the nose red and black fruits, mature, spices and oak and in the mouth full-bodied, smooth passage across the palate, long finish. Elegant!

Oferente Dulce is also a pure Monastrell, from vines with at least thirty years of age and late picked in November. Well developed chestnut colour with terracotta hints. Very long glycerinous legs, brilliant and looks unctuous. On the nose mature dried grapes, dry plums, figs and chocolate. In the mouth spectacular! Balanced, sweet yet the alcohol balances this and the fruit sugars just all come together perfectly….Unctuous yes!!!! Wonderful!

Casa de la Ermita is one of the better known bodegas from the DO but was only founded in 1999. With the palate shot to pieces now there were only two wines left to try……the Dulce Blanco and Dulce Tinto!

The former is from over-ripe white grapes, and is old gold with green tones and long glycerinous legs. On the nose ripe sweet fruit such as peach apricot and pineapple, mango. Orange blossom. In the mouth light , fresh, fruity, sweet yes but not cloying, rich , unctuous, long finish. This would be great with tarte tatin and/or duck or goose liver.

The red is pure Monastrell from 60-year-old vines. After fermentation the wine spends three months in oak to round it out. Deep red/purple in colour,  forest fruits predominate  with spicy notes on the nose. In the mouth the fruit presents as jam, meaty, full, well-balanced the sweetness balanced by smooth tannins. Another wonderful example!

Another very enjoyable tasting with the opportunity to sample some different styles of wine and grape varieties. Monastrell and particularly the dulces stood out!

Wine is Still Alive and Kicking in Castellon! ASUCAP 2013.


Castellon Fair Poster.

Castellon Fair Poster.

 

Yesterday was the fourth `Best Wines of Castellon Fair´ held once again in the gardens of the Old Casino right in the heart of the City. Superbly laid on again by ASUCAP, the province´s Sumilleres organisation, the sun shone on a very succesful event. Now firmly fixed in the Vilamarxant Wine Club´s diary and looked forward to as much as any other wine fair, eight of us took to the road this time.

The fair is still small enough to be a very friendly affair, but this should not be considered so at the expense of progress in the region. Far from it, club members have grown up with these bodegas as they have emerged, know the owners, have visited several and regularly buy wines from favourite growers. They enjoy the trip each year to try new wines, hear of developments, see how progress on a particular project is moving or to find a new bodega has opened up.

Some of the Vilamarxant Wine Club.

Some of the Vilamarxant Wine Club.

This year gave no reason for disappoint either. There was one new bodega with excellent mono-varietals to enjoy, one bodega with a new white wine and some sassy new labels as well a wine designed for the forthcoming Fiesta of the Magdalena and of course there is the news that a small group of growers from the Benicarlo area are to revive Vino Carlon, a fabled red from Garnacha Tintorera. More of all these later.

First spot always goes to new bodegas and a look at their wines. Bodegues Besalduch and Valls was created in 2007 in nearby Sant Mateu, Capital of the Maeztrazgo, some 30km up the CV10 from Benlloch.

Since then, and with some replanting, they have been working on a range of oils and wines to revive a local tradition.

Yesterday they were showing the five mono-varietals from their Grand masters range. Under the assesorship of José Luis Sanchez this recently released range shows good varietal characteristics in what initially appears a traditionally labelled bottles but which I think rather better mirrored the Great Masters robes! First wine is a Sauvignon Blanc, Llanson de Romani. Pale lemon, , clean and bright with tropical fruits, gooseberries , fresh and lively on the nose. In the mouth crisp dry with a mineral dry finish but balanced with lovely fruit, quite full in the mouth. This was a very popular starter!

Bodegues Besalduch y Valls.

Bodegues Besalduch y Valls.

The Syrah Francesc de Sanz, had a typical cherry red colour with good legs. On the nose it was full of cherry and smoke with liquorice, quite spiky!  In the mouth a nice burst of fruit, followed by jam, good long finish. Liked this too.

Third wine was the Cabernet Sauvignon, Arnald de Soler. This was lighter red in colour and for me still quite closed on the nose, the only real hint being vanilla. In the mouth the wine was lean, Cabernet fruit with green peppers but that vanilla was there in the finish. This one needs time.

Fourth was the Merlot, Bernat Despuig. Bright, youthful, that look that young Merlot has, purple and fresh. On the nose really jammy black fruit and quite creamy. In the mouth, the fruit finished with a hint of bitterness, one of the problems with Mediterranean Merlot.

Finally the Tempranillo, Guillem D´Eris won the Silver medal in the Wines to lay down category. Nice deep garnet colour, bright at the edge and on the nose very clearly Tempranillo, fresh and young. In the mouth well structured, good body, creaminess from the crianza, round , elegant and a long finish.

I am looking forward to seeing this bodega progress. It was Rodrigo Vera Landete the Commercial Director who was telling me about the revival of Vino Carlon. Until Phylloxera struck and ruined everything in Castellon´s wine-producing areas, Vino Carlon, made from Garnacha Tintorera was probably the biggest wine export from the area. Exports were high throughout the 18th and early 19th century but the wine was known from the 15th century with purchase s recorded in the UK and Northern Europe. .

Now a small group of growers have got together, replanted some 10 hectares of the variety aiming to take a maximum harvest of 10k kilos or about 30k bottles annually, the first of which should be ready in about five years time….doesn´t seem too long to wait!

New Labels for Ildum!

New Labels for Ildum!

We turned to last years new arrival Jose Luis Sanchez of Benlloch. He also has a new Sauvignon Blanc, an incredibly fresh and fruity wine with massive fruit and a long finish. This is a wine which will be making an early entry into the cellar here just as soon as it is bottled and labelled! He also has an easy drinking Tempranillo based red with a label aimed at the young and called Torito which will be pushed out next month in the Fiesta of the Magdalena in Castelló. I hope there is some left afterwards it is a fun, easy drinking red and one that will fit in very well here! Jose Luis has also had some re-design work on some of his labels, the result of a years worth of marketing experience. Whist the Alvaro Gil and Ildum ranges sell well , there is customer resistance to some of the traditional labels used. We will see if Castellon´s most famous artist can improve sales with these sassy designs pictured here!

Jose Luis sanchez with `Torito´ !

Jose Luis sanchez with `Torito´ !

No visit to this fair is complete without a visit to VinyaNatur´s stand with Estevan Martin Navarro and wine-maker Eloy Haya Rebolledo…..a glass of Barranc D´Infern and a chat about new projects. Eloy was telling me about his new project with Bodega Picos in Zaragoza. And we got to catch up with Vicente Flors of Clotas fame. As we enjoyed the certificates awarded, especially for the Clotas M, his Monastrell which we have been waiting for since 2010 he dropped the bombshell that his remaining stock may all be heading stateside! This is a wonderful Monastrell with 14 months oak, full of laurel, balsamic, floral (violets) and about the only wine from this variety I would pay 15 € a bottle for! Only 3000 bottles were produced and there are only 2500 of the 2011 which has yet to be released.

There were Ismael Sanjuan from Bodegas Sanjuan, with his bright labels, El Mollet with Roques Negros who we first met in Benlloch last year, Masia de la Hoya and Mas de Rander to name just a few more.

The future of winemaking in Castellon looks very bright. There was not one bad wine on show and the number of awards and the winners reflected well the increasing range and quality of emerging wines clearly showed never mind the financial investment being made. Castellon wines will keep us all busy this year!

Ismael Sanjuan.

Ismael Sanjuan.

20th Requena Sauasage Fair.Now in its Disaster of a New Home!


Sausage Fair!

Sausage Fair!

 

It is with a somewhat heavy heart this morning that I write about the Requena sausage Fair. For most of the last eight years the early highlight   has been the trip to Requena for the first of the years food fairs. The Muestra de Embutidos, in its 20th anniversary edition has this year moved into the newly built Recinto Ferial.

The fair has traditionally been one of the most important in the region and is run by the CRIGP, the governing body for the sausage industry of Requena which is its own  geographically protected trademark, just like Champagne, Melton Mowbray pies etc. It is heavily supported by the Valencian Government and the embutidos, the longanizas, the morcillas and chorizos, the perro and sobrasadas and the güenos and orzas are all made to strict recipes and quality control are all made from pigs grown and raised around Requena and sold by the nine butchers who are part of the organisation.

Past Pig Roast.

Past Pig Roast.

In the past the fair has been held in the Avenida Arrabal, Requena´s wide boulevard, around the Monument to the Vendimia. Several large marquees have held respectively the sausage producers, the Housewives association, the Panaderia association a coffee stall, cheesemaker and the occasional bodega which has provided the wine to wash your food down with. a further marquee held the tourist organisations such as the ruta-vino whilst in earlier editions of the fair there were pig roasts as well in the open air.

The fair always runs the risk of the vagaries of the weather, in some years we have driven up in the snow, in others it has been sunny but with bitterly cold winds. But whichever it was the fair had an atmosphere, everyone wrapped up against the weather, polite queues at busy times for the rations of sausages or wine, most of all there was space.

The fair has evolved…..as the crisis deepened the pig-roasts, which were provided by local restaurants, have been withdrawn. Last year and this the traditional exhibitors have been joined by more of the local bodegas giving a wider choice of wine to drink and this year the cofradia de arroz were absent but alternative meals were provided by the Cheste college cookery school.

At some point in the past ambition has called for the  sausage fair and Ferevin, which brings together the local bodegas and runs the August wine fair , to share a new site. The new Recinto Ferial, has been some time in the planning. A shiny new building on the edge of town, next to the fairground  has finally opened.

Inside the New Feria.

Inside the New Feria.

Sadly it has about as much atmosphere as an airport terminal on a strike day. Soaring several stories high, long and thin, the exhibitors and the crowd were shoe-horned into this new `cathedral´ which initially looked clean and bright. There were plenty of large tables where the public could lay out their plates of sausages, bollo etc and their bottles and glasses of wine.

But that is all that was good that you could say about it. As the crowd swelled it quickly became obvious that there is insufficient space. The exhibitors were housed in generally over generous space for the number of staff they employed to dispense their products. (One exception being the cookery school.)  The space between these areas and the tables down the centre left insufficient space for those who were eating and those who were queuing to exchange their tickets for food or wine to avoid a good buffeting by those trying to pass through the complex.

Airline style queuing tapes were abandoned causing deeper chaos as the public did not know which to join  queue for rations of food or bulk purchases to take home, causing health and safety hazards as they blocked the passages and all of this was exacerbated by displays of rhythmic gymnastics by local kids forcing the crowd to the edge and `traffic´to come to a total standstill. I totally understand why the town would want to exploit its new facility to the full but between 1pm and 4pm much of the facility was in gridlock.

Ajoarriero and Mortuerelo.

Ajoarriero and Mortuerelo.

Far from having a good time, not one visitor I spoke to whether they were from Valencia city, further afield or International tourists were enjoying it. `Desastre total´and `desgracia´were the most common comments I was hearing many of them saying they would not return again. Nor were many pleased by the local Police who maintained the local car-park closed and re-directed the public to non-existent car parks elsewhere whilst the police helicopter circled the building continuously!

Fortunately there was a camaraderie in the chaos. Which is just as well for the exhibitors. The Amas de Casa were providing platefuls of ajoarriero and mortuerela, the bollos from the Association of breadmakers and huge loaves of bread were being wheeled in and sold off either whole or in portions with clockwork regularity and the bodegas did a stirling job dispensing excellent wines….especially Coviñas. Latorre, La Madroñera, Cuevas and Aluvion.

Liquor from Bodegas Cuevas.

Liquor from Bodegas Cuevas.

Nor should Nacho´s cheeses from Les Pedrones be forgotten, plates of artisan cheese from his local flock of  and goats served with bread and olive oil.

Fortunately more than one bodega owner also expressed a view that the layout was totally wrong…..especially as the August Wine fair which is due to use the venue is much bigger and attracts bigger crowds.

What a shame that a successful event was brought down by  a bad venue with masses of waste space and no room for expansion….unless you move outside. Maybe that is the answer…..here begins the Campaign to Restore the Fair to the Avenida Arrabal!

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