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.

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