The Pheonix, A Visit to Bodegas Mitos, DO Utiel-Requena.


The New Bodega.

The New Bodega.

Around 1957 the tiny hamlet of El Azagador close to Requena opened its wine cooperative. In 1999 there were 150 growers with a total annual harvest of around 25,000 Hectolitres from 364 hectares of land surrounding the village and next door Derramador. It made wine which was then made available to the bodega in nearby Roma which sold completely in bulk….much of it to Rioja I have heard.

Blink and you could miss El Azagador altogether, sitting as is does on the old road from El Ponton to Utiel. You pass the community centre, Bodegas Torroja and its restaurant El Alambique, sadly both currently closed, and Mitos is on your right.

Another 50 metres and you are into Derramador and the bodega San José which is now Torre Oria with its mushroom domed towers is directly ahead of you.

In 2012 this Coop bodega dedicated to San Miguel had gone, razed to the ground, and today all that remains is a coloured tile on a corner of a wall of the aptly named Calle de Cooperativa where it once stood. In the time since,  the bodega has been completely rebuilt, modern, glistening white, with the latest  machinery and equipment underlying the new style of wines being produced. Today the Phoenix has risen, the bodega is Mitos!

Sala de Catas

Sala de Catas

While the building took shape the wines from the bodega were being created….more on these later! A huge investment has followed, investment and expansion which continues even though the bodega only started selling wine from June last year.

The visit started in the sala de catas to where we were to return later to taste the three wines currently available.

From there we entered the ground floor warehouse where palettes of boxes destined for export were sat ready for despatch. The bodega is another which aims to sell mainly abroad which is why I had not seen the wines before. Currently they sell to Slovakia, Russia, Germany, the USA, Belgium and China. If they decide to enter the home market later then specialist staff will be needed.

Above the Deposits.

Above the Deposits.

Behind the warehouse the bodega sits, its base on a lower level, with the tops of the tanks and a barrel park separated by a glass wall. Up here you are  in the roof ( the bodega is built into a slope) and  the walkways take you past the deposits where the grapes are transferred from the destalking machine outside and pumped to the new stainless steel 55,000 kg tanks for fermentation.

Beyond here and the  park holds 700 oak  barrels a mixture of mainly French and American ( Missouri) and the first thing that attracts your attention is the all-pervading smell of vanilla….I dont think I have ever noticed it quite as strong as it was today! The barrels are maintained so as to avoid noise and vibration.

Some of the 700 Barrels

Some of the 700 Barrels

Downstairs and in what is effectively a basement there is another warehouse full of boxes of wine ready to go. Here also is a large modern bottling plant with a capacity of some 1800 bottles an hour….evidently not enough as capability  is to be extended shortly to  six thousand bottles per hour!

A very modern laboratory houses the computer which controls the temperature of the deposits, the pumping over, and there are a pair of spectrometers.

Part of the Bottling Line.

Part of the Bottling Line.

You may expect that a new consortium has moved in to make all this investment but that is not so. The bodega is in fact owned essentially by a family who have 60 hectares of their own vines, controlling 450 on a nearby finca, buy in the Macabeo and the Moscatel from Turis for the white wine and are looking to expand onto land behind the bodega to build a machinery store. They are also looking at further land and possibly a nearby bodega to provide more capacity. The strategy is to make quality wines with a matching price ratio. Good wines at sensible prices.

Outside we looked at the giant deposits and the space where in the summer two more will be joining them.

Then it was time to return to the tasting room and see what all this investment has produced!

Mitos Blanco

Mitos Blanco

The first wine was a white, a blend of 75% Macabeo and 25% Moscatel which comes from nearby Turis. This wine is therefore sold under the DO Valencia lable and is 12.5% ABV. From the 2012 vintage, it is pale gold in colour, with bright clean flashes, clean and quite brilliant . On the nose it was initially fresh and light, peach and apricot fruit predominating but as it opened out there was a complexity emerging, rich and spicy….easily confusable with a Gewürztraminer.  This is a wine for the mouth though! Here it has a slightly sweet entry then a dry, rich,  spicy complexity, full, round and very well-balanced with a long finish!

I absolutely loved this wine, powerful enough to drink with strong seafood dishes, yet fruity and interesting enough to enjoy every mouthful as an aperitif. At around 3€ in the bodegas shop this is definitely value for money!

Mitos Joven

Mitos Joven

Second was the Mitos Roble 2012, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo with 14%ABV. Medium bodied, deep plum red in colour with hints of violet at the edge and very long slow legs. The wine is Madurado en Barrica so it has three months ageing in French and American oak, it is also DO Utiel-Requena. On the nose oak, vanilla and chocolate vie with guindilla cherry, mature red fruit. Again on entry there is a hint of sweetness, then the oak and vanilla, the wine is round, has good volume in the mouth, is balanced and has a long finish with clove and vanilla. This is another very good wine, serious but an easy drinker.

Finally we tried the Tinto Joven 2012. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and has 13.5%ABV. The wine is also DO Utiel-Requena. The current lable is due for re-design. The wine is a plum red, but with more violet edging and looks younger than the Roble. It too has noticeably long, slow forming, fat glycerinous legs. On the nose it is  young, fresh, fruity, red and black fruit with  hints of prune. In the mouth a mature fruity mouthful, smooth and full, well-balanced and an easy drinker.

Looking back the trajectory of this project has been very rapid and is set to continue in that way. Perhaps it is not surprising that the two reds won silver medals in the Brussels World Wine Challenge. A fourth wine, a red crianza is due to be bottled shortly and then released in due course.

Award Certificates.

Award Certificates.

You will have to beat a path to the bodega to buy the wines or shop on-line for them! At 3-4 € a bottle they will more than repay the effort!

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