Monthly Archives: July 2014

A Visit to Bodegas Pasiego. Learning About Bobal.


 

José Luis Perez and Ricardo´s Blog

José Luis Perez and Ricardo´s Blog

 

Our visit this week was to the bijou bodega in Sinarcas, Pasiego. Here under the direction of José Luis Perez the bodega has quietly been expanding its range of wines since I had last visited at the end of November 2011.

The bodega is right on the edge of Utiel-Requena, go past the vineyards on the road to Teruel and half way across the meseta surrounded by hills and mountains and you cross into Cuenca province. These are just about the highest vineyards within the D.O. at 900m above sea level. They are regularly subject to snowfall in winter and the grapes that grow here are different ( even though they may be of the same variety) than those grown at lower levels of vineyard land in Utiel-Requena.

Traditional Bobal `en vaso´.

Traditional Bobal `en vaso´.

For example Bobal grapes, the regional  variety, have  noticeably thicker skins than those grown elsewhere and both flower and ripen later in the Autumn.

José Luis is one of a small number of wine-maker/ growers in the region who is keen to understand more about the nature of this variety. The bodega is one of seven who formed the Asociación Primum Bobal some three years ago in a project which was aimed specifically at promoting wine from the variety but also to investigate the variety, understand its clones and identify types and soils which are best matched so that future plantings produce better vines and wines for future generations. They introduced a wine, Primum Bobal in a limited edition each year of about 13k bottles which has sold out quickly. We will look at the 2013 vintage, just released, later in the post.

`En vaso´converted to Èspaldera´.

`En vaso´converted to Èspaldera´.

I had specifically asked José Luis if we could visit the vineyards and look at his planting and pruning methods. I knew the bodega was committed to experimenting to see how different methods worked, or otherwise. Immediately that you find his first plot of Bobal,(  the bodega has several parcels of this variety and others), spread out around the town, you can see two styles.

Here the Bobal has been planted traditionally `en vaso´, short trunk and with five `arms´on which the grapes grow. This is the goblet style of the Rhone valley and Bordeaux. Apart from a little evidence of hail damage the vines here looked healthy. Four rows away the variety had been pruned differently. Here the trunk remained short but the arms appeared to be `en espaldera´with two arms, one going in directly the opposite direction to the other neatly up the rows. This makes mechanical harvesting possible.

Stony soil in the Vineyards.

Stony soil in the Vineyards.

 

José Luis also explained different pruning methods. One he currently favours is to wait for the fruit to set and the vine to produce sufficient growth to provide shade to the vine. the tendrils at the end of the arms are then removed together with the leaves around the bunches. The belief here is that the  vine then puts its efforts into the grapes rather than further growth. But not all support this point of view and follow the traditional method of cutting away the excess length but leaving the closest leaves.

Whatever, in this particular plot the vines are subject to breezes which largely protect them from the usual mildew and other diseases. The one drawback is the `poniente´, the hot wind, which when it blows can turn healthy grapes into sultanas in no time at all!

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc

From the Bobal plot we moved on to look at his white varieties Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, not far away on the same part of the meseta, neatly supported on wires and all planted `en espaldera´. The plots are all `secano´( that is to say without irrigation) but the bodega do have a couple of water deposits and in very dry periods they can move water by tractor and tank and provide water to the plots which need it….but it is a major additional cost in the process.

From here we moved to look at a plot of Tempranillo, planted up a gently sloping hillside. Here there are two different and distinct clones of the variety. In the lower part the vines produce bunches of grapes which appear to be like Bobal with the long conical shape and lobes at the top which for the `bulls ears´. Those further up the slope are much more traditional with their tightly packed conical bunches. It would be fair to say that José Luis is not the varieties biggest fan, using the tempranillo in blends but never as a mono-varietal.He believes the variety is difficult to deal with here.

Tempranillo with Lobes.

Tempranillo with Lobes.

In general the vineyard suffers from the same problems as others in the area. There is a moth which lays its eggs in the leaves and which if not dealt with quickly can destroy crops within a couple of years. The best, but not the cheapest method to deal with it is by `sexual confusion´ , one of the more biological methods used in all types of agriculture now.

View over the Tempranillo

View over the Tempranillo

There is also a `hongo´ or fungus which attacked a parcel last year, leaving vines with dead arms. Again the most potent treatment is the most expensive where you drill into the trunk and insert the cure directly into the wood.

The bodega hand picks and selects manually those grapes it wants to use for their own wines. The remainder will be picked and sold on to the cooperative.

Vine Affected by a fungus, with dead wood..

Vine Affected by a fungus, with dead wood..

In the bodega there are a handful of small deposits, a small barrel park and a sala de catas and shop. The bodega is artisan and everything is done by hand which means there is small production….wines which are well worth searching out for their quality, proof that the efforts in the vineyard are worth it!

Following a very educational session amongst the vines we were to enjoy a tasting of eight of the bodegas wines….( in 2011 they only produced four but then we had enjoyed sampling the new harvest from deposit, some of the wines still undergoing malolactic fermentation).

Ví vid in the Barrel Park

Ví vid in the Barrel Park

We began with the white, a blend of Chardonnay  and Sauvignon Blanc called Suerte and 12.5%ABV. This wine has been consistently good over the years I have tried it and we began with the 2012. Gold, with green flashes, clean and bright. On the nose quite floral, white flowers, tropical fruit, pineapple the wine has spent two months in  oak , on the lees with regular battonage. Nonetheless the oak on the nose is muted. In the mouth expressive tropical fruit, excellent balancing acidity, with a long dry mineral finish, reflecting the stony soil in the vineyards. Worth noting that this wine evolves quickly in the glass, within 20 minutes the tropical fruit had been replaced by orange peel on the nose.

Suertes 2012 Blanco

Suertes 2012 Blanco

We moved on and tried the  2013 vintage.  This had been in bottle for just a week and we were amongst the first to try it. A similar colour, and the same ABV and blend this was a little muted on the nose. However there was strong hints of banana, a sure sign the acidity in the Chardonnay is perfect, whilst in the mouth this wine was also full with lots of fruit. Within an hour in the glass this too had changed to strong citrus tones of orange marmalade……a wine to keep for a while. This will also have a new , very modern lable from 2014 onwards.

The Primum Bobal 2013 was the following wine to try. 100% Bobal, 13.5% ABV this is not exclusively a product of Pasiego. The grapes come from three of the Associations members ( Finca Ardal and Dominio de la Vega are the other two) and represent grapes from two different levels of vineyards. These are vinified separately and in very modern style to produce a light fruity approachable wine which shows the characteristics of the grape variety. As the bottle was uncorked there was an explosion of fruit released!

 

Primum Bobal

Primum Bobal

 

Bright purple youthful wine with a violet edge, and long slow legs. On the nose concentrated red and black fruit, almost jam. In the mouth chocolate, liquorice, spice, smooth tannins, and a very big mouthful of fruit. Persistent slightly sweet long finish This amazing value at 5€ a bottle.

The wine is made at Dominio de la Vega by Dani Esposito and Felix Martinez of Vera de Estenas.

The La Blasca Crianza, 2008 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Tempranillo, 17% Merlot and 3% Bobal at 13.7% ABV was the fourth wine. This has had 10 months in American and Hungarian oak. Cherry red, full-bodied  with long legs. On the nose, mature red and black fruit, with well-integrated oak and spice. In the mouth it is round, fruity, enjoying a long full finish.

Wines in the cata

Wines in the cata

The Pasiego Reserva, 2004, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Tempranillo, 10% Merlot 13.2% ABV. This wine has had 14 months in oak of first and second use, a technique which allows for the effects of new wood to be balanced with the lesser effects of using barrels for a second time. Deep red cherry in colour with a terracotta edge and long legs. On the nose, complex, leaf-mold, spice, liquorice. In the mouth this is unctuous, silky, very smooth and round, good volume and a long satisfying finish.

The Pasiego, Bobal, 14% ABV is a blend with 15% Merlot, 2010 Vintage. This is the Bodegas homage to the autoctonal variety. It is deep black cherry in colour with long legs and violet streaks. On the nose concentrated fruit, chocolate, smoke complex with plum fruit in the background. In the mouth a big mouthful of cherry fruit, strawberry hints, spice and concentrated flavours which identify the wine as unmistakably Bobal. Lovely wine.

Pasiego Autor

Pasiego Autor

Our last wine was the Pasiego Autor 2009, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Bobal 14%ABV. This wine has had 12 months in oak and is a deep black cherry colour with a violet edge and long legs. On the nose lots of ripe, mature, red and black fruit, rich. In the mouth, mature soft red and black fruit with green pepper, long fruity, meaty and satisfying finish.

The bodega is also part of the Rutavino in Utiel-Requena and is in partnership with local holiday accommodation for those who enjoy outdoor pursuits including what look some very attractive packages for bike riders and walkers in particular.On our next visit we will pursue some of these possibilities including trying some of the local gastronomy!

Concentration in the Cata!

Concentration in the Cata!

This was an educational visit both in the field and the tasting and we were struck by the enthusiasm in particular of José Luis for the quality and style of the bodegas products.

There are some real jewels in the crown of this artisan bodega whose wines are well worth searching out.

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A Visit to Bodega Emilio Clemente, Wines With Perfect Harmony.


Bodegas Emilio Clemente

Bodegas Emilio Clemente

 

 

This weeks bodega visit was to Emilio Clemente, the Requena bodega where Cristina Correoso Abellán is the wine maker. I first met Cristina about four years ago at the first Bloggers encounter in Utiel and our paths have crossed but once since. The bodega is not a prolific exhibitor at fairs and events, not even in nearby Requena, having a solid export basis in China and Japan particularly but also in Columbia and Mexico.  In fact the only time I have seen the bodega exhibiting their wines in recent times was at `Placer de Bobal´ in Valencia a couple of months back.

Perhaps the bodega has a somewhat unfair reputation as un-approachable as a result  but the reality could not be more different. I had contacted Sergio Clemente, the General Manager who could not have been more helpful in facilitating the visit for our professional group, confirmation coming personally in a call from Cristina the day before.

Calm beyond the car park

Calm beyond the car park

 

It was Cristina who met us in the large car park beyond the forbidding black and solid metal gates set into solid stone walls. In stark contrast the bodega is set beyond the car-park, surrounded by trees with  the breeze whispering through the pines, whilst on the other side it opens up over a series of terraces overlooking the vineyards, the Rio Magro and neighbouring Finca San Blas in the distance.

A warm welcome behind us  we settled on a trip around the facilities, a look at the old house with its astonishing mix of art, chapel and antique and post-modern furniture followed by a comprehensive tasting of the bodegas wines.

In the vineyards.

In the vineyards.

 

The  vineyards are largely set in the valley behind the Bodega and here were Chardonnay and Bobal. But the bodega has another finca in the Hoces de Cabriel Natural Park, with Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and there are experimental parcels of Cabernet Franc and other varieties.

The bodega is modern, very clean and uses gravity to move wines rather than pumping them around. For their top wine `Excelencia´ ( only produced in the best years) a hand press is used and the wine undergoes alcoholic fermentation, malolactic fermentation and a period of crianza in oak barrels…..it can take a day just to fill one barrel of this wine using a hand press that seemed more appropriate in scale to a home wine-maker. But it is this attention to detail which is most important in making excellent artisan wines ( especially as only 2000 bottles of this wine are made). Even the more commercial wines produced are pressed in small quantity in the pneumatic press the bodega also possesses. Beneath the large room housing this equipment, with its tanks for taking the whole grape, smothering them in nitrous gas to extract every last drop of flavour and scent from the skins,  lies a further room with holding tanks for stabilising the wine.

Cristina Correoso Abellán

Cristina Correoso Abellán

Currently the bodega has no Tardana of its own so it buys in the grapes which form part of the white Florante brand.

The bodega only employs four people, Cristina handles some of the admin for example and so a visit like ours can wipe out a mornings work for her . Not that she was complaining, there was clearly pleasure and pride to be seen in the way she presented the bodega to us!

We moved on the barrel room, full of French oak from all over the country. In fact the bodega has a policy of only buying barrels from France, all medium toasted, mostly 225 litre and some 300 examples just for the Excelencia. Moreover it never buys more than 15 barrels from one cooper!

Ricardos Blog amongst the Barrels!

Ricardos Blog amongst the Barrels!

And there is one other surprise, as the electric door swings open classical music can be heard coming from within the room! The bodegas owners were impressed by the work of Japanese photographer Masuru Emotu who is famed for his work photographing the spectacular results of freezing molecules of water which have been in an environment with such music. The crystals formed are perfect snowflake style! I know this technique has been used by both Mariano Taberner and Gabriel Mayo Garcia and we would shortly see if the wines tasted good or even better!

One other surprise. The bodegas white normally has five months oak but here were barrels which were being left for a year. The results of this extra ageing we will have to wait for but I for one will be very interested to try the wines! Ernesto Carcel is the only winemaker I know who has exceeded the three-month limit, and he only goes to seven or eight with his Macabeo in American oak!

The old house.

The old house.

From here the tour switches to the 19th century house owned by the Clemente family and dedicated to Saint Blas ( known as Blaise also or Blazey in English). He is patron saint of gardeners and his sign of martyrdom is a rake.  The house is used for corporate events for the bodegas clients but the family retain the second floor for their personal use. Its terraces can be used for wedding photos and the sala de catas is also the dining room. The chapel however , even with its altar, statuettes  and confessional is not actually consecrated!

In the Hall.

In the Hall.

As always it  is the sala de catas where the climax of any bodega visit takes place.

Cristina had selected five wines for us to taste, the bodegas best wines and not those sold in bulk abroad!

Wines to be tasted!

Wines to be tasted!

Florante, Blanco, Fermentado en Barrica, 13.5%ABV. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Tardana and Macabeo. Now here is a wine with 6 months oak, with time on the lees. Gold, brilliant in colour, long slow legs. On the nose, acacia, tropical fruit, citrus and a certain creaminess, patisserie. Over 30 minutes this citrus note turned clearly to orange peel as the wine evolved in the glass. Later it was marmalade. In the mouth the first thing in such a big wine was the acidity, volume, and a huge finish full of fruit. This too evolved, in fact the evolution is at the very least marked if not spectacular. A white wine best drunk at room temperature and not chilled…too much would be lost!!!!

2005, Crianza, 14.5%ABV, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Bobal. From Finca El Caballero in the Hoces de Cabriel, this has had 12 months in new French oak. Medium to deep cherry red colour, long slow legs. On the nose, rich, ripe red and black fruits, Jammy. Over time this wine evolved to give cedar wood notes on the nose. In the mouth rich, full, powerful. Jam , fruits of the forest, long fruity finish. This wine incorporates a parcel of vines where liquorice grows naturally, which seems to flavour the soil and thus the wine.

A serious discussion about the wine!

A serious discussion about the wine!

Bomelot, 2011, Bobal 80%, 20% Merlot. 14.5% ABV. Deep black cherry with a violet edge, long, very slow legs.  This spent the first two months of the crianza on the lees. On the nose, deep, concentrated, black cherry, damson, ripe, round with bucketloads of liquorice. In the mouth very fruity, light acidity, well-rounded, alcohol well-integrated. A very nice wine..one I will be showing again in the next few weeks!

 

Excelencia 2009, ( Varieties not noted but normally Tempranillo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon), 15% ABV, 16 months oak. Made from only the very best wines the bodega has. Deep Black cherry , very long legs. On the nose huge fruit. This wine as noted before is fermented in oak and undergoes both second fermentation and crianza in the same 300 litre barrels. A total of 22 months! The creaminess of the malolactic fermentation and crianza are marked, the nose is incredibly rich and power underlies this wine. In the mouth apart from the fruit you note chocolate croissants or doughnuts and later tobacco leaf. WOW!

Artwork in the sala de catas-

Artwork in the sala de catas-

Finally we tasted the bodega´s first cava, Regulum, a Macabeo/ Chardonnay blend with a short period on the lees. Pale gold in colour, good fine spiral bubbles, on the nose, initially very ripe red apples, sweet nose!. In the mouth very ripe fruit, fresh, good attack and acidity, almost a sweet creaminess. As the wine evolves in the glass it suddenly takes on a hint of banana, fresh from the Chardonnay which takes longer to show. There is no residual sugar, no added sugar yet this wine has a natural fruit sweetness. Astonishing! The bodega intends to make a more serious cava now it is in the business!

Cristina pours the Cava.

Cristina pours the Cava.

 

 

This was a fabulous visit, Cristina made every effort to show us the best of the property, the best wines and was prepared to take as long as necessary to show how her experimental approach combines with her skills to make wines which evolve on the nose, in the mouth and markedly over time.

Not a bad idea playing classical music to the barrels…..I want to see the photos of the wine molecules…I bet they are as harmonious to look at as they are to drink……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Vist to Finca El Renegado, Bodegas de Utiel.


 

Renegado, Colonia Agricola.

Renegado, Colonia Agricola.

 

Continuing our bodega visits , in the next week or so many will close for summer holidays before the harvest begins, we took another visit to the hamlet of Los Marcos and visited the family bodega of Adolfo de la Heras, known as the Finca del Renegado after the name of one of its parcels of vines.

The bodega has around 50 hectares of vines, of mostly noble varieties and Bobal. It is surrounded by them entirely and sits on an escarpment overlooking the nearby Hoces de Cabriel Natural park and Castillo La Mancha away in the distance. It was visible but not clear due to a heat haze.

Deposits in the Vineyards!

Deposits in the Vineyards!

The bodega makes its own wines and has a cava with its label which is made for them at Pago de Tharsys as Los  Marcos is beyond the DO Cava boundary. It also commercialises an olive oil ( from olives grown near Jaen) and a new Gin and Vodka… but of this more later!

The bodega is relatively modern dating to 1985 but next month will undergo amplification with a new warehouse, barrel park and more deposits being bought. Currently the bodega can produce about 3.5million litres of wine but only bottles some 500,000 which it sells. The wines can be found in many bars and restaurants, in El Corte Ingles and are distributed by Las Añadas.

Wines destined for the USA

Wines destined for the USA

Whilst we were at the bodega they were preparing a large export order for the United States of America which were heading for a distributor there with their distinct back lables with  the Surgeon Generals Health advice on drinking wine!

They are looking to break into the UK market and are working with Mark O´Neill to this end. O´Neill is a Belfast born Valencia based wine distributor and owner of Verde Marte, specialising in Spanish and South American wines which he sells under his own lables. He is looking to market three wines under the El Renegado lable for the bodega.

El Renegado, Tasting note below.

El Renegado, Tasting note below.

The property is standard in many ways with stainless steel deposits, a modern bottling line and an extensive pumping system. It is spread over a fairly large site and some vineyard land will be lost to the new development.

Down the line of the buildings, past the offices , dining room, barbecue and tasting suite which are used for corporate events and by other organisations, you come to the old Renegado Colonia Agricola and some of the original buildings on the site. Here the old finca with its cooling thick stone walls has a double `Georgian´ style staircase winding its way to the first floor. The whole building and its old dependencies have been converted into bedrooms and apartments, currently used by adventure activities company Aven Sport utilising the facilities in the Cabriel such as rafting , kayaking and cycling. It could also be used as a base for touring holidays in the area especially once the swimming pool is installed as the apartments have their own kitchens.

Some of the Accomodation Available

Some of the Accomodation Available

It is also perfect for other wine tourism based projects.

The bodegas wines are currently marketed under the Capellano, Actum and Actum Colección and Nodus labels.

Nodus Chardonnay

Nodus Chardonnay

In the sala de catas we commenced with Nodus 2013 Chardonnay, which has had three months in French oak and is 12.5%ABV. This white wine is a lemon, pale straw colour with golden-green flashes. It is clean and bright. On the nose there were tropical fruits, apple  and hints of oak. But this is not overoaked, as I have noted before three months seems to be the ideal time in barrica for this variety here in Valencia. In the mouth the wine is full with excellent balancing acidity. Round, smooth and almost creamy this is an excellent wine, perhaps in  the Maconnais style… but with sun!

Our second wine was the Nodus 2013 Bobal Rosado, 12% ABV. This conforms to the classic Bobal rosado style, pale strawberry colour with a violet hue, red fruits on the nose with a floral hint, bubble-gum, boiled sweets. In the mouth the ripe red fruits are perfectly balanced, with a long dry almost mineral finish. Fresh and refreshing yet an accompaniment to some big seafood dishes. Very elegant.

Nodus Bobal Rosado

Nodus Bobal Rosado

Third up we tasted the Actum 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  13%ABV, this is a crianza with 3 months in French oak. It has a deep red cherry colour, with long slow legs. On the nose the ripe red fruit was very marked with an almost blackcurrant,  jammy intensity, the oak just evident. In the mouth the brambly fruit, good body with balanced acidity. Rich , intense a real mouth filler with an easy pass across the palate.

We returned to the whites for the next wine, the El Renegado 2013 with Mark O´Neills label. This is a blend of Macabeo, Chardonnay and Moscatel. Straw colour with green flashes, the chardonnay is balanced by the white flowers and apple from the macabeo and peach/ apricot from the Moscatel. The nose is very distinct and this combination very redolent of another wine we know well. In the mouth it is full-bodied, but elegant, rich and ripe but with perfect acidity, smooth, round, with good volume and a lovely long dry finish. Astonishly good, my favourite on the day! If this is heading for the UK it will be a complete blockbuster!!!

Wines in the Sala de Catas

Wines in the Sala de Catas

The fifth wine was the Actum Colección  2013 another oak aged red from Tempranillo and Syrah.13% ABV this has had no more than 2-3 months in oak. An intense deep  cherry red colour, youthful enough to just colour the glass, on the nose the syrah ( spiky cherry) and tempranillo leather and brambles are individually evident but the hint of oak brings both varieties together perfectly. In the mouth black cherry fruit, red and black summer fruit mingle, with a simple easy pass across the palate this is a round modern wine which is concentrated, expresses the varietal characteristics, is fruity and….is a very modern style of wine….loved it!

Vodka and Gin with the N lable.

Vodka and Gin with the N lable.

Now, the bodega also markets Gin and Vodka, The former N ( for Nodus) Gin VLC is astonishing! So astonishing I forgot to ask the obvious questions. On the back of the bottle it suggests a long list of citrus fruits and herbs and spices like orange, lemon, mandarine, rosemary, liquorice, coriander, cardamom, angelica and sage. It certainly has a marked citrus nose and flavour though the curse of having to drive prevented us from tasting it properly. This is a Valencian gin, not the only one produced here but a real contender to have in the house….I suspect a very light tonic and ice would almost be superfluous!

This may be an old bodega with history and style but it is one with a modern future making wines for todays markets and spirits for todays trends!

Thank you to Gori ( Gregorio) for a comprehensive visit.

 

 

After the Cata

After the Cata

 

 

A Visit to Bodegas Aranleón, Ancient and Modern in Los Marcos.


Inside the old bodega

Inside the old bodega

Whoever you believe, be it the town hall  or Wikipedia Los Marcos is a very small hamlet of Venta del Moro,  estimates of population vary between 57 and 87! What is not in doubt is that this is a very wine focused part of Utiel-Requena with no less than five bodegas! I dare say there are vine growers who do not have their own bodega but here you will find Entreviñas, part of Finca El Renegado ( Bodegas de Utiel), Dagon, purveyors of fantastic biodynamic late harvested and aged sweet Bobals, Proexa, which I visited some time ago ( http://wp.me/p16pqB-hA ), the village cooperative dedicated to  San Isidro  and Aranleón, subject of today´s post.

Taking the country road from nearby Caudete de las Fuentes you pass Entreviñas as the meandering camino follows the contours of the hills and the edge of the vineyards.

Antique Press

Antique Press

As you pass under the disused railway bridge and enter the hamlet you can see three of the bodegas immediately and as you get closer you pass the cooperative before the turning into Proexa and Aranleón. Blink and you will be out-of-town!

The two bodegas this side of the road used to be one and indeed were another of the bodegas originally owned by the Oria de Rueda family along with Maz de Bazan, Torre Oria and Sebiran but long ago sold on by these scions of Spanish noble families.

Top of the Deposits.

Top of the Deposits.

Three separate family units bought the property in 2000 and it was to be Maria Sancho, who I first met some time after 2003 when the first wine was made, who was to  guide us around the bodega today. She, an administrator and a bodega worker together with Eloy Haya who is technical director and wine-maker and one or two others form the small team who run this artisan bodega where everything is done by hand.

You enter the old  bodega, all white tiles, red floor and immaculately sparkling which houses the old concrete tanks now lined with epoxy resin and which are still used to macerate and ferment the wines. Here there is a feeling of tradition…the grapes, all from its 120 hectares of ecological certificated vineyards arrive,  having already undergone selection in the vineyard. Here they will  undergo another  selection process. Then they will undergo alcoholic fermentation before going to the new pneumatic press. From here and by gravity they pass down to the subterranean bodega ( in complete contrast this has modern shiny stainless steel deposits of just 4000 litres for malolactic fermentation and then to bottle or barrica) . This new bodega , equally clean and shiny was built in 2005 and houses the offices, bottling line, tasting suite and the barrel park as well as a central lightwell and patio.

Bles Crianza in Deposit.

Bles Crianza in Deposit.

The vineyards are in and around the hamlet, in nearby El Ponton and the bodegas member/owners have holdings in Fontanares allowing them to market wine as DO Valencia or DO Utiel-Requena depending on the origin of the grapes.

The grapes are harvested at night to reduce stress in the bunches but also because it is cooler generally.

Entry to the Underground Bodega.

Entry to the Underground Bodega.

The bodegas products which are sold under four different trademarks, Blés, Solo, Arbol and Hélix sell well in Canada ( especially the Blés crianza)  which are the product of several  varietals…Chardonnay, Macabeo, Verdejo and Sauvignon Blanc in white and Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Bobal, Cabernet Sauvignon, Monastrell and Merlot. There is also a new cava made for them nearby in Requena.

In the barrel park you will find French and Hungarian oak barrels of 225 litres and 400 litres, the Hungarian being preferred to the American for the subtlety of the flavours they impart. There are also a pair of historical barrels from the Los Marcos bodega dating to 1927.

1927 Los Marcos Barricas.

1927 Los Marcos Barricas.

In the tasting suite we were to sample a selective but comprehensive range of wines from the bodega.

We began with the Solo Blanco 2013, a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Macabeo. 13.5% ABV, as Maria remarked the bodegas wines are quite high in alcohol! DO Valencia by denomination, the wine was pale gold, clear, bright and with gold flashes. On the nose there was undoubtedly chardonnay but the tropical fruit of the Sauvignon Blanc predominated with lush ripe melon from the Macabeo. In the mouth the wine is rich, ripe, very full, unctuous ( the influence of the Macabeo) and with a long slightly minerally finish. Well balanced! Surprisingly considering this has never been anywhere near a barrel it was honeyed.

Solo 2013 Rosado

Solo 2013 Rosado

Next up was the Solo Rosado 2013, not Bobal but Tempranillo, 13.5%ABV and also DO Valencia. This is the first year the wine was made. This is a quite deep cherry colour, Maria believes it is like a Pinot Noir, with good long legs, quite glycerinous. On the nose it is fruity, intense, boiled sweets but lacteos as well, strawberry ice-cream or yoghurt. In the mouth the contrast was marked, the sweetness of the nose matched by good acidity, a very easy pass across the palate, but a full wine , round and with a long finish. Here is a wine which could stand up to a rich lobster paella or a salad with a strong vinegar dressing.

We moved on and tried for contrast the 2011 and 2012 Blés Roble, both with three months oak, the former having hints of dried grapes on the nose and plenty of mature fruit in the mouth whilst the later vintage was a little lighter on the nose but with lively fruit in the mouth, rich, ripe and balanced. This is a blend of Bobal and Tempranillo  and very easy to drink.

The Blés `Family´.

The Blés `Family´.

The Blés Crianza 2010, Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, has six months in oak. It has a bright cherry colour, is medium bodied and  has long glycerinous slow legs. On the nose the fruit is mature but in the mouth the wine has depth, lacteos, and the acidity is higher. It is perhaps most representative of the bodegas style and is a wine to accompany food.

By contrast the Solo Tinto  2010, 80% Bobal, 10% each of Syrah and Tempranillo has had a full twelve months in oak and six months in bottle. This is a deeper black cherry with long legs, forceful, and in the mouth the fruit is smooth, sweet,  mature, complex and elegant. Very full and very rich…this is a star!

The Arbol 2010, the first wine which Eloy Haya is fully responsible for is named for the mediterranean pine tree. It is 14% ABV and a blend of Cabernet Franc, Monastrell, Syrah and Tempranillo , with 13 months in French oak. It is black cherry in colour, deep, although the legs are not particularly long. On the nose there is a quite subtle mature fruit.

In the mouth it is subtle, complex, good fruit, well-balanced, a persistent finish with lots of red and black fruit. This is a powerful wine for winter dishes!

Two of the Solo Range.

Two of the Solo Range.

Finally, there is always a treat. Eloy showed us a cask sample of a pure Tempranillo 2013 from Fontanares, again a deep black cherry with a violet flash, the wood was barely evident but the fruit was unmistakably a compote of blackcurrant, sweet and cloying! This is destined for the Hélix…which needless to say I shall now have to look forward to trying!

The wait will be worth it! And it wont be as long now before I open the lone bottle of Solo 2003, the first wine produced by this artisan bodega which I found lurking in the bottom of my cellar! Roll on the next working lunch!

Aftermath of the Tasting!

Aftermath of the Tasting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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