Benlloch…Local Wines and Produce Fair 2013….More New Wines from Castellon!

Benlloch Fair 2013.

Benlloch Fair 2013.


The Benlloch Fair, in its second edition this year, is very like a traditional agricultural fair in the United Kingdom. On visiting for the first event last year we were surprised to see a big display of rare and international breed cockerels, peacocks, quail and partridge. In the ( dry) riverbed there were a few donkeys. In the streets of the town, local bakers display there fresh made breads and savoury dishes such as coca and empanadas, sweet cakes, whilst cheese makers from the local area were selling their artisan made `servietas´ and specialist products, all made locally.

Cockerel on Display.

Cockerel on Display.

The town is also host to a medieval market selling all sorts of hand-made clothes, wooden implements, pizzas and trinkets.

Most importantly there is a section for the wine-producers to show off the excellent local wines from the surrounding towns and villages.

The fair comes fairly close on the heels of the `Best Wines from Castellon´ fair which was the subject of my 24 February blog ( see archives) . As a result I can report on a few more bottles  and the reader will have a fairly comprehensive update on the taste of the regions current crop of wines.

This years fair is no different except there were more livestock on show, brown cows and bulls ( almost never seen other than in the mountains) and horses. There were more exhibitors in the towns streets and the sun was shining on all!

Roques Negres.

Roques Negres.

El Mollet is the Bodega producing Roques Negres, a blend of 70% Monastrell and 30% Syrah which currently shares premises in Les Useres with a couple of other bodegas. Juan Carlos Pavia, the owner is hopeful that he can eventually relocate the bodega to Benlloch where the family still own a building which was once a distillery…sadly now lacking the wherewithal to make spirits! That will take time but his wine is really distinct. Medium bodied, cherry red to ruby with good glycerinous legs. On the nose there is a spiky cherry fruit with chocolate and liquorice. Juan Carlos does not have barrels but does want to give the wine a touch of oak which stabilises it. He adds oak chips to his 3000 litre deposits for a period of 14 days and this seems to have the desired effect. In the mouth there is a hint of oak, no more, the wine is a big mouthful, plenty of cherry fruit, with an easy pass across the palate and a long full satisfying finish. Sensibly priced this is a good quality easy drinker.

José Luis Sanchez of the Benlloch bodega Banús was showing three wines from his range. Hot off the heels of the fiestas in Castellon all of the Sauvignon Blanc had been sold. However Jose Luis did still have his Rosado from Tempranillo and the light red Tinto from the same variety under the Torito label both of which have now settled down in the bottle.

Banús Torito.

Banús Torito.

Both wines are meant to be easy drinkers and neither disappointed! The rosado at 13.5% ABV has a typical bright, clean, strawberry colour with long legs. On the nose red fruits and that boiled sweet, chewing gum bouquet that is so typical of good rosados here. In the mouth good fruit is balanced by a clean acidity, it has a grapefruit, mineral dry long finish which is very satisfying. This will be a good summer drinker.

The red is a medium  bodied cherry red,  also 13.5% ABV and with long legs. On the nose there is soft fruit and in the mouth it is very smooth with good cherry fruit and a hint of clove. Nice easy drinker!

The Cabernet Sauvignon Crianza 2011 from the Ildum range by contrast is a bigger wine with a deeper ruby-red colour, long glycerinous slow legs . On the nose it is a bit stalky with hints of green pepper. In the mouth whilst the fruit is there it is a leaner , drier wine which would be better with food, green pepper and a long finish.

I first met Guzman Orero in the Valencia fair in 2010. Guzman´s family own the Segorbian bodega Masia La Hoya and he is secretary of the organisation pulling the bodegas together into a group which can challenge for IGP and eventually DO status for wines from Castellon. Whilst he and I enjoyed a fascinating discussion about the politics involved mor importantly we enjoyed a tasting of his current range.

Artisan Cheese Stall.

Artisan Cheese Stall.

Masia de la Hoya 2010 Merlot is a wine which has been in deposit until it was finally bottled at the beginning of March. Plum red, with good legs the nose is still closed as the wine settles into its new environment. However in the mouth there is plenty of ripe fruit, plum, damson and good depth and body. There was no hint of bitterness in the finish. Very nice, this will be much better in a couple of months and has a good life expectancy.

More Livestock on Show.

More Livestock on Show.

The 2009 Syrah by contrast has had twelve months in a mixture of French, American and Romanian oak. A nice medium bodied cherry red, good long legs, on the nose the spiky black cherry fruit associated with youngish syrah, full-bodied with hints of lilac, smoke and liquorice. Very nice.

The 2006 Tempranillo/Merlot/Syrah  is a small production wine which I first tasted in 2010. It seems to have aged only a little in the last three years, now a little more garnet than plum in colour! It retains its blackberry fruit, star anise  and  vanilla flavours although they may be a little dryer now. Nonetheless this wine could still be laid down successfully for a few more years. Meaty and satisfying long finish, very good.

Finally we tasted the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Monastrell, 2010. This again has good long glycerinous slow legs, a deep black cherry colour, but was very closed on the nose. In the mouth the potential is there, full, meaty, fruity, with a solid body but with a feeling there is still more to emerge. Another wine to lay down.

I hope to visit the bodega in May once the vines are in colour.

José Manuel from Bodegas Vega Palacio was showing his 2007, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon ,Syrah and Merlot in 60-20-20 proportions a wine which won a silver award in Castellon last month. 12 months in French oak, this wine has a deep black cherry colour, but again is a little closed on the nose. There is good grip in the mouth, this a hard young wine with a huge development ahead of it. One to lay down for the future.

Wine from Ismael Sanjuan.

Wine from Ismael Sanjuan.

Also from the Segorbe area is Ismael Sanjuan of bodegas Sanjuan. I had tasted his white in Castellon but sadly this had also sold out already! His joven Tempranillo Edición Limitada 2012 has spent just a month in oak. A light ruby colour.  On the nose good, fresh fruit, red and black. In the mouth a very easy pass across the palate, a nice light, easy drinker packed full of fruit. Like this a lot.

The Viña Viver from the same bodega is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot from 2009. At 12.5%ABV it has spent 11 months in American oak. As a result it has a much deeper body and is a black cherry in colour. On the nose it is full of ripe fruit, cherry, plum and there is black chocolate. In the mouth very smooth tannin underlies good fruit, red and black, ripe, a hint of spice, ( clove). Very nice, a quality red!

As I have remarked before it is always a pleasure to come across a bodega I have not encountered before. New to me was Castells i Montoliu, an organic bodega in La Torre en Domènech run by Ximo Montoliu with the help of Adria Perez, winemaker  of the Priorat bodega Cims  de Porrera. The bodega produces three wines, a white and two reds.

The Blanquet white had only been bottled three days ago  and needs time to show its best. A pure Macabeo, 13%ABV, it is from 60-year-old vines. The wine has plenty of promise, there is ripe, concentrated apple fruit, and the wine is very full with a long full finish and good balancing acidity. I would like to try this again in a month or two.

Ximo Montoliu.

Ximo Montoliu.

Next we tried two contrasting vintages of the Siull. The 2009, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Monastrell with French oak ageing. A good deep cherry red with long legs it is 13.5%ABV. On the nose lots of ripe black fruit but still fresh whilst in the mouth it is packed with rich, mature red and black fruit. This is an excellent  wine.

The 2009 by contrast is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha, Tempranillo and Monastrell with American oak ageing. Much deeper in colour, much more closed on the nose and in the mouth full of black fruits of the forest, with very smooth tannins. A wine which is concentrated and needs to be laid down….sadly there are only a few cases left!

The other red is L´Encanteri. 13.5%ABV, 2010. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha. A light to medium bodied ruby-red, bright. On the nose red fruits, strawberry and boiled sweets. In the mouth fruity, medium bodied with a hint of minerality. A real easy drinker. A bodega to watch and visit soon!

Wines from Castells i Montoliu.

Wines from Castells i Montoliu.

Finally we enjoyed a palate cleanser before lunch! The excellent white from Vinya Natura, Barranc L ´Infern is a blend of Macabeo and Chardonnay with four months of oak ageing. The wood is barely noticeable in the mouth but has clearly added depth to the wine which has great fruit and body, a quality wine.

This is a very interesting fair to visit with lots to do for all the family and is well worth a visit! The town also possesses one of the best restaurants with traditional local dishes always well presented and with a high standard of cooking. La Bodeguetta deserves a post of it´s own!!




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