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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