Enotourism- An Excursion to Bodegas La Viña ( Venta del Puerto) and Bodega Daniel Belda.

Outside the Original Bodega. La Viña.

Outside the Original Bodega. La Viña.

We should never forget that a visit to a bodega should above all be a fun experience! Looking back over the posts on Bodega visits over the last year whilst all have been fun many of them had a serious purpose as well. Sometimes though you have to let your hair down and just go for a day out.

I have  a future programme of Bodega visits in mind for 2014  with several of them set to focus on exploring the more esoteric side of blending ( `assemblage´ in French and `coupatge´ in Castellano ) and the tasting of new wines and monovarietals still in deposit or barrica. This is a vital part of learning about wine and how it develops, a way of understanding how wines change or develop in barrel and ultimately understanding what the make-up of wine is and then monitoring it in bottle over the years that come. Such is the hard life of wine professionals…not that I hear any of them complaining!!!

Last weekend was time for letting the hair down a bit! A friend and I have been looking at setting out to create Bodega visits for those who are rather more interested in tasting the final product, buying bottles of what they have enjoyed to take home and if there is a good meal in it as well….all the better!!

L-R Jorge Pertegaz, Marian Daras, José Agustin Martínez and Ricardo´s Blog.

L-R Jorge Pertegaz, Marian Daras, José Agustin Martínez and Ricardo´s Blog.

Where better to start than with a group of friends from the Valencia area, many interested in wine and gastronomy? What better bodegas to visit than the contrasting but emblematic bodegas of La Viña and Daniel Belda ( amongst the most important in DOP Valencia) . So on the first rainy day since August,  twenty five of us set out on trip to the interior and the Terres dels Alforins…DOP Valencia´s major wine-route. I have reported several times  on this  since the concept was announced, launched and subsequently from two presentations  ( most recently at http://wp.me/p16pqB-wq ) and a wine fair.

Terres dels Alforins.

Terres dels Alforins.

Formerly part of the Clariano region of DOP Valencia, the Terres dels Alforins is now a clearly defined sub-zone in its own right.

It is full of popular, well-known bodegas and the two we chose could not be more different.

We started at La Viña ( Venta del Puerto) where we were welcomed by Managing Director José Agustin Martínez and Wine-maker Jorge Caus Pertegaz. As it happened the Mayor of La Font de la Figuera ( the town where the bodega is sited) chose to tag along as well with some visitors from New Mexico! Historically this is one of the biggest bodegas in Valencia, owned by the giant Valencian Coop Anecoop who also run the bodegas in Cheste ( famous for the sweet whites from Moscatel such as Reymos etc) and  a new enterprise in Navarra.

Inside the Giant Bodega. .

Inside the Giant Bodega.

The bodega has a membership of 390 `socios´who between them contribute 11,300,000kg of grapes from the Villena, Fontanars, Ayora, Moixent , Ontinyent and the Font de la Figuera area. 80% of these are red varieties, the remaining 20% being white.  It is a giant bodega, completely modern inside and in presentations both José Agustin and Jorge explained that the bodega´s vision was to place itself at the centre of producing wines of excellent price to quality ratio.

The bodega has started out on an expansion and investment programme supported by Cajamar, investment which is counterbalanced by healthy sales to many countries outside Spain ( their wines can be found in Wal-Mart and Asda stores in the UK for example). Within Spain they want to be the reference bodega for the Valencian Community and to expand the number of bottles of Valencian Wine ( especially in the medium range ) sold in supermarkets. To this end the `Juan de Juanes´ range offered by Consum and Carrefour in Valencia are their leading products.

Enjoying the Tasting.

Enjoying the Tasting.

Following the tour of the installation we enjoyed a tasting of three of the bodegas wines and a `picadita´ of typical food from the area. The three wines were the excellent Juan de Juanes Vendimia Oro Chardonnay, ( oaked but popular with those who do not generally like Chardonnay or oaked whites) the Juan de Juanes Petit Verdot 2011 ( which incidentally was the winner of the Light reds category of my 2013  wine selection ( http://wp.me/p16pqB-zU)  and the Venta del Puerto 18, 2010 . This latter wine is the bodegas flagship,  a blockbuster made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Tempranillo selected from the best grapes and then wines and aged for 18 months in French Oak . The wine is only lightly filtered and is from a limited production of just 26143 bottles.

Exploring La Viñas Shop!

Exploring La Viñas Shop!

After buying several cases of wine ( which I hope made it worth the bodega opening exceptionally on a Saturday ) we moved on to the pretty little town of Fontanars dels Alforins and the family bodega of Daniel Belda.

Here we were to have lunch so time did not allow a  trip around the bodega. The venue was the old bodega which now doubles up as a shop and warehouse  with a space set aside for entertaining.  When we arrived Daniel himself, wine-maker and grandson of the original owner, was preparing the fire for the barbecue where the calçots were to be cooked ( calçots are a leek shaped member of the onion family which are roasted over the fire until soft inside and then served with romescu sauce…a popular dish at this time of year which originates from around Tarragona).

Daniel Belda. Getting the Fire for the Calçots Going!

Daniel Belda. Getting the Fire for the Calçots Going!

We commenced with a comprehensive tasting of the families wines starting with a dry rosat in the cava method. Unable to use DO Cava because Fontanars is not an area within the designated DO the bodegas of the Terres dels Alforins are looking for a new designation that will allow them to create and sell sparkling wines. Needless to say the wine was fruity, had good volume in the mouth, good acidity, a pleasant attack from the bubbles and well-balanced.

Next we tasted the 2013 Verdil ( my winner of the best unoaked white wine of the year ) followed by the 2012 Chardonnay which has been oaked and which I have shown this year e.g.  http://wp.me/p16pqB-zN  at a Valencia-International tasting. The first is fresh, dry never disappoints and has a nose full of gooseberry, and a flavour of passion fruit whilst being fresh and dry…..the second almost a classic French style chardonnay from the Macon.

The New Maceración Carbonica Garnacha.

The New Maceración Carbonica Garnacha.

Daniel Belda makes chiefly monovarietals, Next up were two new wines, bottled and labelled only the day before. This was to be a  treat because we were effectively the first to try the two new MC wines from the Carbonic Maceration method which produces wines such as Beaujolais Nouveau, wines which surprisingly are not widely made in the Valencian region. The first was an immensely fruity and very good 2013 Tempranillo, just 1500 bottles have been made but if you like an intensely fruity wine with hints of boiled sweets and a real easy drinker this is for you!!! The second was the Garnacha Tintorera made in the same style, also very fruity but a little leaner in the mouth and needing more time. I suspect both will prove to be very popular additions to the bodega´s range.

Calçots and Romescu Sauce.

Calçots and Romescu Sauce.

By now the calçots and the other `picaditas´were exhausted and the main course ( a Gazpacho Manchego which is very traditional in the area was ready!) Our informal tasting ended we sat down and tasted four more wines with the meal.

First was the stunning Migjorn 2007, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Garnacha, for me the best wine the bodega produces…beaten only by the now unavailable 2006! This and the Ca´Belda 2006 a blend of Monastrell and Garnacha Tintorera and a big wine in every sense of the word were perfect accompaniment to the gamey gazpacho.

Gazpacho Manchego, Fontanars Style.

Gazpacho Manchego, Fontanars Style.

With the dessert ( baked sweet  pumpkin) we drank the bodegas Moscatel and then finished with coffee and the cava the bodega has made for them at Castell dels Sorrels.

This was a perfect example of eno-tourism at its best, 25 very happy people who enjoyed a great experience in the wine region of Valencia, fabulous wines and a super meal of traditional local food. A perfect marriage which we will now be working very hard to repeat regularly.

Even the Kids were Catered For!

Even the Kids were Catered For!

My personal thanks go to José Agustin, Jorge, Daniel ( a genial host)  and Vincent at Bodegas Belda and to Marian Daras who worked very hard to co-ordinate  all the arrangements  with the bodegas and with me!

In the shop at Bodega Daniel Belda.

In the shop at Bodega Daniel Belda.

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