Ricardo´s Best Wines from Valencia, 2013 Selection!

Just one tasting!

Just one tasting!

2013 has been a stonkingly good year for tasting wine, full of memorable events, food and wine fairs and specialist catas, not to mention some very enjoyable visits to bodegas!

Let me explain. My selection is emphatically not a scientific points based reference. It is rather my personal recollection of wines tasted during the year which stood out for me as being particularly special! The selection contains some surprises, I would hazard a guess, but some will undoubtedly be up there with the selections of those whose job it is to assess and categorise wines.

There are  ten categories reflecting the styles of wines available here in Valencia. The selection is limited to wines I have tasted over a meal, at a fair, at a tasting or on a visit between the first of January  and the 31st of December 2013.

Artemayor...best Cava!

Artemayor…best Cava!

We start with Cava. DO Cava wines are produced around the town of Requena and at one other location near Turis. The handful of bodegas with the right to make cava ( around 10) produce about 5% of the total for the whole of Spain but they are wines with a burgeoning reputation, selling worldwide and with a very high level of quality. This means that there are a growing number of bodegas who wish to have a cava in their range even if they are physically outside of the protected area of denomination. They have to rely on one of the permitted bodegas having capacity to make a wine for them!

Four wines stood out for me this year. Pago de Tharsys Unico, which topped my 2011 list, their Millesimé, Dominio de la Vega´s Reserva and of course Arte Mayor. Other bodegas are right up there! Hispano+Suizas Tantum Ergo Pinot Noir and Chozas Carrascal to name but two and it was good to see Sebirán back in the market!

All of these top four cavas will set you back  around 20-25€ but as artisan wines they are hugely better than the commercial champagne houses.   I have been lucky to try these wines on several occasions this year and to have enjoyed bottles around the table with friends. For me Daniel Esposito´s Arte Mayor (V) Brut Nature from Dominio de la Vega currently has the best balance of flavour, acidity and attack. It is a blend of 2006/7 vintages and Chardonnay and Macabeo varieties with six months in French oak.

In the unoaked whites range a number of bodegas made wines which made an impression. However there was one which stood out at every tasting from the beginning of October onwards. This is  Verdil, the first wine from the Northern Hemisphere to be released each year. The variety which gives this `joven´ its name was largely saved from extinction by  Daniel Belda whose Fontanares bodega produces it. Fresh, lively, with a nose full of white flowers and spice and tropical fruit such as passion fruit with a long dry finish.

Verdil 2013

Verdil 2013

The oaked whites were altogether a different matter. Conveniencia from Finca San Blas, Clos de la Vall Pedro Ximenez, the Macabeo from Clos D´esgarracordes, Mustiguillo Finca Calvestre Merseguera,  all had their moment…or moments. Finca Collado 2012 is another contender as were the 2011, 2010 and 2009 tasted at a very special meeting of the Pedralba Wine Club, each with hints of  more age, more acidity and depth. However it was the  Clos de la Vall which shaded it, produced in Moixent and in small amounts its versatility with food caused it to be opened a lot this year!


In Rosado wines there is usually a strong case for an automatic winner from Bobal! The bubble gum, and boiled sweets flavour with a balancing acidity marks it out….but not this year. The Bobal de San Juan and Al Vent from Coviñas were very close as was Las Cuatro from Chozas Carrascal ( full of ripe redcurrant fruit) but the Casa de las Vides Rosae from Agullent, with Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon had both freshness and unctuous fruits and tipped the edge for me. At the Umbracle tasting at the end of September it was showing particularly well. Despite tasting rosados from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo, Syrah, Bonicaire  and Monastrell , nothing quite ever got within its range!rosa rosae


In the categories for reds it is always difficult. The categories are light reds, (usually those with little or no crianza), wines with crianza and Bobal as a variety gets its own prize!

There are plenty of light reds around, not all wines are 14+% ABV. Three wines made it to the shortlist. The Sebiran `T´, a pure tempranillo comes in two versions, one with a period in stainless steel and the other with a short crianza. Both are very expressive and show good varietal characteristics from Spains workhorse grape. The `T´barrica even won an award. Murviedro´s `M´Syrah was also an impressive from this largely monovarietal range available in supermarkets. Full of spiky black cherry fruit and a real easy drinker. But it was a Petit Verdot 2011 from La Viña´s Juan de Juanes range which came out on top. A short crianza gives this intense black cherry wine with a nose full of olive stones, grape seeds and minerals and which in the mouth is meaty, a country style wine with good tannins…I have drunk this with fish, fowl and game in the last three months, a versatile wine and very memorable!


Juan de Juanes, Petit Verdot 2011

Juan de Juanes, Petit Verdot 2011


In the medium to full reds range the list was much longer….Monastrells from Alicante ( Tarima Hill 2012) and Castellon ( Clotas M from Vicente Flors; Merlot from Finca Collado ,( the 2010 is the best red yet produced at the bodega) and won a bronze in the San Francisco International Wine challenge; Clos D´esgarracordes Tinto Barrica 2008 chosen by the Nariz Oro for the semi-final and final of the current competition; and Masia de la Hoya, from Segorbe, Guzman Oreros 2006 Orero Seleción .  Best for me was the Tarima Hill….the passion flower on the lable exhibiting the complex wine inside the bottle! Floral,  ( violet) fragrant, hints of chocolate, liquorice and mature full fruit. In the mouth herbs and more floral notes….a very full wine. This was perfect with a whole shoulder  of lamb for a friends birthday lunch in a nearby restaurant but also showed well on its own at a tasting without food! At just under 10€ good value to price ratio as well!!!!

Tarima Hill

Tarima Hill

What a year for Bobal as well! New wines from Pasiego, Olivastro ( Membrillera)  and Hispano+Suizas ( Bobos)  all of which show the wine at its best either young,  with careful crianza or outright ageing to reserva status. In this last category I have been very lucky to share several bottles of Dani Esposito´s Arte Mayor ( IV) as well as the wine Primum Bobal made for the Association promoting this variety from Requena. The Olivastro was just an explosion of fruit, an absolute joy to drink.

Well, the winner is Bobos from Hispano+Suizas, launched in September and sold out by November!!!! A memorable day at the launch and a memorable wine, Pablo Ossorio getting this absolutely right…see archive September 16, 2013.



Always the last wines at tastings the sweets are also quite memorable for different reasons!

Amongst the Moscatels only one wine st0od out this year. The shortest bodega visit ever was to Bodegas Carmelitano in Benissa but….the Mistela is wonderful! ( See Archives 24 January 2013) Ripe and rich, perfect with vcakes or foie and only 15% ABV!!!


Moscatel ( left) and a nut liquor.

Moscatel ( left) and a nut liquor.


Three red dulces made the short list. La Madroñera Dulce , the new Bobal Dulce from Dominio de la Vega and a late harvest Cabernet Sauvignon 2003  from Sebirán  ( all from Requena!)

It was the Sebiran with its port like quality, its strange two phase aftertaste and just the memory of one of the best visits of the year which won this category!!!

late Harvest 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon.

late Harvest 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon.

So, in summary, here is my winners list for 2013…..

Cava…..Dominio de La Vega, Arte Mayor V. DO Cava ( Requena)

Unoaked White, Verdil, Daniel Belda 2013. DO Valencia

Oaked White, Clos de la Vall Pedro Ximenez. 2010 Fermentado en Barrica, DO. Valencia.

Rosado, Rosae 2012, Casa de las Vides Agullent, DO Valencia.

Light Reds, Petit Verdot 2011, Juan de Juanes Bodega Coop La Viña DO Valencia.

Crianza or reserva Reds, Tarima Hill 2012 Monastrell , Pinoso, DO Alicante.

Bobal, Bobos Hispano+Suizas, Finca Casa La Borracha 2011 DO Utiel-Requena.

Sweet White, Bodegas Carmelitano Vino de Licor Moscatel Benissa DO Valencia.

Sweet Red, Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 Late Harvest, Sebirán DO Utiel Requena.

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