Valencia´s Month of Wine Celebrations!


The Valencian Community  has five different controlling bodies for its wines,  covering the IGP to the North in Castellon, the East has DO Utiel-Requena, DO Valencia covers a number of wine growing areas covering the rest of the Province, the South is covered by DO Alicante and DO Cava has a foothold around Requena. Traditionally the first four have a celebration of their wines each year spread over the twelve months. This year has been exceptional with all of them crammed into 18 days!

These celebrations are traditionally aimed at the Hotel and Restaurant trade, the press and other professional within the industry but the public are usually admitted after a two-hour session dedicated to the former group.

Cava Fair 2014

 

DO Cava, which has geographically defined areas throughout Spain does not hold its own local event. This is traditionally organised by PROAVA, the agency which promotes agriculture, wine and food products throughout Valencia. In the past the fair has been held late in the year , usually with the intention of celebrating and promoting the local cavas at the expense of products from the Catalan cousins in the run-up to Xmas. It has been held outside in the Universities old cloisters ( the Nau), behind the HQ of PROAVA in the Plaça D´Arbol and latterly in the undercroft of the Colon Market in the city centre.

In reality it has been recognised that December in a chilly Valencia is not an ideal situation to taste Cava!

 

Eloy Haya with Vinya Natur.

Eloy Haya with Vinya Natur.

 

So on the 30th May , under the headline `Sesión de cavas y espumosas de la Comunitat Valenciana´ the event was held on the terrace of High Cube night club in the former Americas cup port in Valencia. Not all the bodegas producing cava participate, ( there are many events at this time of year for bodegas to choose from, many of them with potential export sales) but this does mean the sparkling wines ( almost all from Moscatel ) produced in the rest of the Community are given an outing.

The end of May was chosen because the weather is generally good and a balmy evening down by the water drinking Cava is a much more appetising prospect! Notwithstanding the weather gods sending the first rain for nine months just as it was due to start, in the form of a thunderstorm, the evening was a great success.

As usual the agency´s tasting panel had pre-judged  some 40 entries in a range of categories and the evening doubled up as a prize-giving ceremony. 13 award were made in  the Cava categories and 14 in the espumosos and low alcohol frizzantes categories. This area looks set for major growth as local consumers realise wines from Murviedro  and Bocopa are better than the awful imported lambruscos!

Some fourteen bodegas from Alicante, Valencia and Requena with one from Castellon ( whose Cava is produced in Requena) showed their wines in an event which was largely re-designed to capture the attention of consumers and remind them of their local quality products which are ideal to drink with summer meals.

PlacerBobal

Second of the celebrations was `Sensación Bobal´, DO Utiel-Requena´s big event which used to be called Las Añadas de Utiel-Requena and was also held in December when new wines were traditionally released.

This event was not held last year as many bodegas believed that their wines were well enough known in Valencia and concentrated on taking the Bobal variety to Madrid, Barcelona, China and other fairs to promote not only the local variety but other wines from the DO. This proved very successful with plans to go the USA , Mexico, China again and other International venues under consideration!

Valencia was not to be left out this year and the professionals descended on Las Arenas, the top flight spa-hotel on the Malvarossa beach in Valencia on 6 June. The event was jointly organised with Verema, Spain’s premier wine website, and some 1500 people were invited before the public were admitted.

Bobal Alta Expresión Latorre.

Bobal Alta Expresión Latorre.

There are a number of factors behind the concentration by the DO on the Bobal vatiety…not just the fact that it is the most widely planted. The Asociación Primum Bobal, together with a number of other bodegas have been re-assessing the variety, the yeasts used in fermentation, clones of the variety etc. This has led in a relatively short time to a recognition that the variety produces high quality wines in a number different styles and not just good for blending with other wines or for producing good rosados. The success of a number of new wines shows this with Pasiego, Vera de Estenas, Mustiguillo, Olivastro, Bobal Sanjuan and others to name but a few, producing blockbuster wines showing good varietal characteristics, concentration, fruit, …just what the market is demanding!

The DO´s prize giving night will be held in early July. But on the night a range of wines particularly imporessed….Pasiego´s two wines, the Vino de Autor and the Bobal, Hispano Suizas `Bobos´, `C´from Sebiran, the `Alta Espresión´ from Latorre and in a more traditional style the 2000 Gran Reserva from Ernesto Carcel all stood out!

Pasiego Bobal and Vino de Autor.

Pasiego Bobal and Vino de Autor.

Two successive good harvests of high quality grapes, higher sales and exports and record bottling in Utiel-Requena are threatened by drought, thunderstorms and a bug eating the young shoots this  year. The harvest this year hangs in the balance.

The drive to push forward the DO and its excellent products ( especially from Bobal) shows no such signs of concern!

DO Alicante was the third of the controlling bodies to hold its event on the 9th of June in the Museum of Archeology´s grounds (MARQ). It has not proved possible to attend previously due to it being held in the evening with the prospect of a late night drive back home.

Pepe Mendoza, Bodegas Mendoza.

Pepe Mendoza, Bodegas Mendoza.

However with an offer of accommodation this year we attended starting with the professional tasting  at 6pm and then the public being admitted from 8pm onwards.

It is some time since I have had the opportunity for a concentrated look at Alicante´s wines and this occasion did not allow a long enough period to try all of the wines including those from some new bodegas.

It was an opportunity however to meet with old friends and re-establish relationships with some of the excellent bodegas from this province. Pepe Mendoza, Finca Collado, Sein, Carabibas, Vins del Comtat and Primitivo Quiles all fell into this category.

It was the Fondillons that caught the attention on the night though!

Fondillon 1948, Primitivo Quiles

Fondillon 1948, Primitivo Quiles

These old wines from Monastrell, aged in Solera for many years before bottling were once a major speciality sold to Georgian England and known as `Alacant´ We tasted wines from Primitivo Quiles ( 1948 and 1942 ) and Culebron ( 1964 and 1972 ) and this has re-ignited a desire to learn more about this wine, its traditions, production methods and current sales patterns. We will be visiting later in the summer and visiting four or five of the very few bodegas allowed to make it and producing a special post.

The wines are concentrated, nutty, caramel, have all sorts of fruit flavours with dried grapes and figs predominating but all are distinct and rich for dessert, with cheese, foie, fresh fruits etc ( like rich olorosos from Jerez).

Finca Collado.

Finca Collado.

DO Valencia was the last of the controlling bodies to hold its event, normally held in June in the Botanic Gardens in Valencia but this is no longer able to hold the celebration. This year it too was held in the Americas Cup port,  in the emblematic Veles y Vents building.

Some 40 bodegas took part in what also is the DO´s prize giving event with awards for both wines and to personalities from within the province. The pre-tasting for these awards is carried out by Els Bodeguers, the chain of independent wine retailers in Valencia . This was the body who formerly used to handle PROAVA´s tastings before it was revamped and professionalised this year. Awards went to Maxi Bao, sumiller, Bouquets ( one of the independent retailers),  to Cosme Juan, winemaker at the Godelleta Coop, Restaurant Abadia de Espi for having the best Valencian wine-list and Uvinum, the best on-line wine retailer.

The event is strictly entry by invitation for professionals in the sector. It was an opportunity to meet with winemakers such as Mapi Melado Soriano , who is about move to Burgos to work, VÍ vid, the new promotions company and friends.

Ricardo´s Blog, Ví vid with Mapi and Carole.

Ricardo´s Blog, Ví vid with Mapi and Carole.

The large bodegas of Murviedro, Gandia, Ontinium, Baronia de Turis, La Viña,  Xaló and Valsangiacomo predominated in the wine categories with only Casa de Las Vides and Los Frailes of the independent family owned bodegas recognised with awards.

On the night wines from Alturia, ( a white from Merseguera, Malvasia and Moscatel) , Clos de la Val ( Pedro Ximenez), Mitos ( Macabeo and Moscatel) Brote from Los Pinos ( Verdil) , and Los Almendros from Angosto were the stars in the whites. In reds the wines from Finca El Renegado, Los Frailes and La Viña shone out. The latter were also showing a new Dulce, an experimental sweet wine not yet for commercialisation which winemaker Jorge Caus showed with some pride…….even if he thinks it can be improved still!

The state of wines from the Valencian Community is on the up. Bodegas are improving their wines and learning how to market and export them better.More importantly those sales are up and wines from all over are gaining recognition in International markets for their quality and value for money. One bad harvest with a bad drought will not halt that development and progress even if some favourite wines are a bit scarcer next year!

There were plenty of contacts made and many more visits and reports to make!

Jorge Caus, Winemaker at La Viña.

Jorge Caus, Winemaker at La Viña.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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