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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