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……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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