Fontanares and the Terres dels Alforins……2nd Wine Fair.


Wine Route Map.

Wine Route Map.

Back in December 2009 the Valencian Government decided to invest some 1.9 million € in a project to promote the wines of the Terres dels Alforins, broadly the area of DO Valencia ( Clariano) which encompasses the towns of Fontanars, Moixent and Font de  Figuera. The plan was to create more paths for walkers, in what is considered the `Tuscany´ of Valencia, and bring a boost to the areas casas rurales and restaurants. The area is not just known for its wines, being historically an important centre of Iberian history, but also for its food.

Wine Route Launch.

Wine Route Launch.

For Valencia progress was relatively quick! The University and  all the interested parties worked together to produce an official launch of the new Wine Route, one of four in the Valencian Community, on December the 20th last year…..an evening in the historical old Nau ( or cloisters) of Valencia´s  University. The launch was of course followed by an extensive tasting of wines from the associated bodegas together with artisan breads, cheeses and the dried sausages from the area.

It was with some interest therefore that yesterday I attended the second wine fair held in the town of Fontanars ( or Fontanares dels Alforins) , the first having preceded the launch and which I had been unable to attend.

The bodegas associated with the wine-route are Daniel Belda, Torrevellisca, Los Pinos, Enguera, Los Frailes, Heretats de Taverners and Rafael Cambra ( from Fontanars) , Coop La Viña and  Arraez ( Font de Figuera)  and Clos de la Vall and  Celler del Roure ( Moixent). The three towns surround the well-preserved site of Les Alcusses an Iberian settlement dating back to the iron age.

Fair Poster.

Fair Poster.

Clearly I was not the only interested party! During the fair I encountered friends, acquaintances and fellow bloggers from Castellon, Valencia City and from bodegas in DO Alicante.

The main street had been closed off from top to bottom and each of the bodegas had a table from which to dispense their wines. Tickets for entry were 3€ which gave you eight tastings and a further 2€ rented a wine glass for the purpose! ( Not it seemed that the bodegas were much interested in collecting tickets!) There were also a market stall dispensing tasting samples of local cheeses and meat products and a local restaurant was cooking a traditional Gazpacho Manchego (3€ a big bowl full) in a side street……over wooden fires….something that would never be allowed in the UK on spurious health and safety grounds! Whilst the gazpacho cooked, the town filled up and those who had bought tickets were invited to help themselves to fried chicken wings and livers and garlic, the unwanted parts of the birds in the main course!

In very atypical Valencian style, access to this food was relaxed and not subject to the normal feeding frenzy at such events!

So, between 11.00am and 2.00pm, the crowd moved around the stalls, chatting to the bodegas and their staff and sampling the wines. Come 2.00pm an orderly queue mainly of senior citizens with their pans collected their portions of the Gazpacho to take home whilst the rest of us stood in the street or moved off to the church , outside of which the town hall staff had considerately provided chairs for those who preferred.

Preparing Gazpacho Manchego.

Preparing Gazpacho Manchego.

Once eaten, the fair re-started and carried on till 10.00pm!

We had commenced with the Verdil from Daniel Belda, the local variety with which he is credited as reviving and saving. The wine is picked in August and is always the first white wine ( from the new vintage) to be put on the market. It debuts at the L´Alcúdia Gastronomy fair in early October and at the time I felt the 2o12 was still not quite ready. It certainly is now! Straw yellow in colour with green flashes. On the nose typically apple and pineapple and in the mouth fresh, nice acidity balances well with the soft fruit flavours. The 2011 Pinot Noir is much paler than normal, testimony to the difficult year. Light cherry red, medium bodied, good legs. On the nose more like a light Burgundian wine, fruits of the forest and  cherries. In the mouth nicely balanced, smooth tannins, light red fruits and a good finish. An easy drinker.

Daniel Belda´s Stand.

Daniel Belda´s Stand.

We moved on to the stand of Antonio Arraez. His A2 Verdil is also a fresh fruity white with perfect acidity. We also tried the Eduardo Bermejo white, a blend of 60% Moscatel de Gran Menudo with the remainder being Merseguerer and Macabeo. The wine has a very muted nose with just a hint of apricot. In the mouth it is subtle, hints of orange and mandarine balanced with a fresh acidity make this an excellent wine with a long finish. Love it!

The wines from the Cooperative of St Peter the Apostle in Moixent, sold as Clos de la Vall  where the winemaker is Pablo Cortes, are favourites. The PX ( Pedro Ximenez ) a dry white with six months crianza on the lees makes this a big wine. Golden yellow, clean, bright and on the nose toasty, buttery with dried grapes and just a hint of yeast like a good sherry ( this is a variety from that region). In the mouth light acidity, almond and orange peel vie with membrillo to make it deep and complex with a mineral finish. The best PX from DO Valencia without a doubt! The red Vino de Autor with its label signed by Pablo is a blend. Deep cherry red with long legs, on the nose sweet black cherry, plum, and in the mouth sweet mature fruit, round, full, with smooth tannins and a long , satisfying finish. Not cheap at 10€ a bottle but a big wine.

Pablo Cortes and his Vino d´Autor.

Pablo Cortes and his Vino d´Autor.

The wines from Torrevellisca are also no strangers and the two new releases are worthy of further comment. In the Embrujo range the new white from Verdejo is excellent. Last years Malvasia has been supplanted by this new offering, a Verdejo in Valencian style! Normally the white variety of Rueda is full of gooseberry and cats pee. This is also a pale lemon yellow but that is where the similarity ends. A very clean, bright wine with golden flashes and small bubbles. On the nose complex. Yes there are tropical fruits such as lime, but there is apple as well and maracuña ( custard apple) and hints of white flowers. In the mouth the wine is fresh and fruity, a lovely acidity balances well with quite unusual flavours including the custard apple and citrus. A good long finish. A very easy drinking white which I love.

The red Embrujo is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo. It has had just a month in oak. Over the last two months I have tried it several times, showing it at the Pedralba wine club as well. Then it needed a little more time in bottle. Now it is fine, an intense cherry red colour with a violet edge, good legs. On the nose smooth red fruits. In the mouth fruits of the forest, strawberry, full with very light tannins, well-integrated and an easy drinker…..already a prize winner in both Germany and China…..can´t say more really!

Back to the whites and the Reixu from Heretat de Taverners. A blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc it is straw coloured, with green and gold flashes, clean and bright. Green apple, pineapple and banana combine on the nose with the hints of butter provided by its short period in  oak. Full, fruity but fresh, a very pleasant mouthful.

New Labels from Heretat de Taverners.

New Labels from Heretat de Taverners.

Unfortunately time and the need to drive back to Valencia did not permit more tasting on this occasion

However this fair had a very different feel about it, whilst a new event it had the distinct traditional feel of a Spanish street fair, where everyone is relaxed and enjoying themselves, the donkeys mingling with the crowds whilst giving young children rides, but at the same time having something of the flavour of the locality. Maybe it is a rich history from the Iberian period through the Roman until now? Whatever it is it permeates the vines and the wines which make this pretty corner of DO Valencia special!

Ready for a Ride!

Ready for a Ride!

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