A Visit to Bodega Latorre Agrovinicola, Venta del Moro.


Tiled Artwork, Old Bodega.

Tiled Artwork, Old Bodega.

 

 

Latorre Agrovinicola, the large bodega on the edge of Venta del Moro, conceals its true size. Built on the triangular-shaped corner between two roads out of ( or into)  town it hides much of its complexity as well. It looks like a compact set of warehouses but these house a series of areas dedicated to different parts of the winemaking process.

We visited today to catch up with the current head of the fourth generation family bodega, Luis Miguel Latorré Ochando. His grandfather José Maria founded the bodega although it really took off when he incorporated his three sons, José Maria, Luis Miguel and Luis into the firm in 1968.

The original bodega had been enlarged in both 1942 and 1950 when Finca Garrido, a beautiful house outside the town was purchased together with its vineyards to add to the Finca El Parreño. A further enlargement took place in 1973 which allowed cold fermentation of the wines to commence. Several further changes have been made, each allowing modern scientific techniques to be applied but the bodega has retained much of its origins despite these changes.

Outside the Bodega

Outside the Bodega

We were shown around by wine-maker Luis Miguel (  great grandson  ) and joined by his father part way through the tour. This starts where the grapes arrive to be tested for sugar content and quality, the basis on which prices are set. Latorre is more than a family bodega because it buys in grapes from local growers who do not make their own wine. Tests are made from the beginning of August to determine quality and picking dates. Because the bodega makes either must or finished wine to sell on to prestigious clients in Spain, France, Switzerland and Russia quality is very important. Indeed 90% of the production is sold on in this way, just 10% of the very best wines being retained for bottling with one of the bodegas distinctive labels.

Once quality is determined the grapes go up the hill to be discharged into the hopper, de-stalked and pumped to one of the holding tanks where they macerate to extract colour and flavours, the number of hours and temperature depending on which product it is destined for. The trailers in which the grapes arrived are then scrupulously cleaned before they leave to collect another load.

Tanks in the Reception Area

Tanks in the Reception Area

The tour then moves on from the reception area to where the musts or wines are refined before they go down the slope to the holding tanks or deposits, via one of the two laboratories where tests are continuously made. In the upper lab there is an impressive map of the facility which puts its size into perspective!

Then it is on to the bottling plant, the barrel park and the bottle store where the crianzas and reserves lay ageing quietly.

Finally you make it to the tasting room which doubles up as the bodegas shop. But before we get onto the tasting, we were also there to select some wines for a promotional event in Valencia in April, some serious impressions had been made. Firstly for a family run bodega there is a lot going on here, with a philosophy of step by step modernisation as it happens. It is not just the way the bodega has grown over the last 100+ years, but the careful thought into the arrangements that has been part of it. Pumps are largely not necessary as gravity does the work. The old concrete or ceramic tanks hold enough to fill a tanker so that a finished wine can be sent on its way to its destination , the tank cleaned and the next batch moved into it.

Luis Miguel.Jr Explains the Bottling Line

Luis Miguel.Jr Explains the Bottling Line

But for all the old technology, modern filtration eg plays its part leaving perfectly clean musts or wines without odours to move to the next stage. Given the huge amounts of grapes which could potentially pass through the bodega each harvest time the geography also helps. With the same variety being grown at between 625 and 900 metres above sea level,( such is the geography of the local catchment area)  picking times can vary by as much as two to three weeks allowing each enough time to be vinified before moving on to a later ripening variety. Also because Venta del Moro is the most Southern part of the plateau harvest generally starts the earliest in the D.O. here. ( Cava excepted.)

And it is not just the winery which is modernising, the range and style of wines is also under scrutiny as is  their respective labelling.

The entry-level Parreño covering a white from Viura/Verdejo, a Bobal Rosado and a tinto from Tempranillo/ Cabernet Sauvignon all have sparkly new lables.

Bottles from the Tasting

Bottles from the Tasting

The Catamarán, an oak aged white has not been made for a couple of vintages but will be re-launched shortly. The red crianza already has a new lable and thought is being given to the older style reds, the reserva and Gran reserva. These long oaked wines are no longer fashionable, the modern market demanding concentrated, fruity wines which express the character of the grape variety. Sad because the 2001 Bobal Gran Duque is a fantastic wine but it cannot compete with old riojas even though the price is much more affordable.

Back to the tasting though. We worked our way through the young style wines first.

Parreño blanco 2013, at 11.5% ABV is a fresh, fruity white, pale gold in colour with white flowers on the nose, ripe melon and apple fruit from the Viura ( Macabeo) followed by  concentrated fennel. In the mouth it is full, well-balanced with nice fresh acidity and the alcohol is well-integrated.

The Parreño Rosado is a no holds barred, fresh young Bobal. It is strawberry in colour from 50-year-old vines. Not surprisingly it is full of pear drops on the nose and bubble gum and rhubarb and custard in the mouth. 13% ABV from the 2013 vintage and perfect for Summer drinking when reds are too heavy!

The Parreño Tinto 2013 is a blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. Bottled two months ago, it has lots of red and black fruit on the nose, characteristics of both varieties and in the mouth smooth, sweet tannins.

Parreño Range.

Parreño Range.

The Duque de Arcas Roble 2012 is a madurado en barrica wine…3 months in both French and American oak. At 13% ABV it too is a blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon and was bottled 6 months ago. Immediately it is a better balanced wine, a nice cherry colour with sweet fresh red fruit on the nose. In the mouth it is round with good volume, a very easy drinker.

The Crianza from the same range is a step up again. This has Bobal in the mix with the Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon and you notice  the difference straight away. Bobal does not dominate the other varieties in a blend which is why so much of it is exported…as well as for its colour! It does add a discernible strawberry fruit into the mix. Quite complex on the nose if still a little closed, aromatic. In the mouth there is a sweetness, complexity, smooth tannins and a  nicely balanced wine which could be matched with a dessert. Impressive.

The next wine however could only be described as phenomenal! A cask sample which could only be a pure Bobal! This is a new wine, 14 months in Barrica and 14% ABV. In colour it is a deep black cherry colour with a violet edge and very long slow, glycerinous legs. On the nose, fresh and young, morello cherry with liquorice, chocolate and spice, clove.  In the mouth it was full, very smooth and lovely….just needing some time in bottle. Once ready, hopefully in the summer this will be sold as a new style wine, `Bobal Alta Expresión´.

Bobal 2001, Left, 2012, Right.

Bobal 2001, Left, 2012, Right.

Finally we tasted the classic Gran Duque, the Bobal Seleccion from 2001. Now with a terracotta edge it still has a violet colour, testament to Bobal´s ability to age without colour loss. It still has fresh red fruit jam on the nose and liquorice with hints of honey. In the mouth the sweet tannins balance with the long-lived raspberry fruit and has a long, full finish full of caramel and balsamic notes.

An impressive tasting of wines from this bodega.Four wines selected for the tasting we left for lunch….which may get its own write up another time!

 

My thanks go once again to Luis Miguel, father and son and to Marian Daras and my daughter Cj who between them took a super selection of photos to choose from!

http://www.latorreagrovinicola.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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