Monthly Archives: August 2014

Ferevin 2014….a Perfect Wine Fair!


Ferevin 2014

 

Today is the 23rd birthday of Ferevin, the Feria Requenense de Vinos which has been held in the town and showcases the wines of DO Utiel-Requena. The fair has undergone some changes over the years but always comes over the final weekend of August and is always the first date to be written the diary.

Perhaps the biggest change was the move, last year, from the Avenida Arabal, a tree-lined boulevard in the centre of town crowned by the Monument to the Vendimia. Here the fair flourished and the crowds mingled under the plane trees enjoying the wines on offer. serious wine buffs and the public rubbed shoulders together.

Recinto Ferial

Recinto Ferial

Now the fair is held in a modern atmosphereless airport style departures hall. It is supposed to ensure the crowds who attend are rather more of the former group and that they are contained  within the building and the streets are free for everybody else. The trouble is it has done nothing to improve the quality of experience for the wine buffs and there are now noticeably less bodegas attending than in the past. Some of this may be down to changing marketing strategies but I know there are bodega owners who simply do not like the change that has been made!

This year some 17 bodegas have been showing their wines and we have attended two of the seven sessions ( the fair is open between 11.00 and 14.00 and 19.00 to 22.00 each day Thursday , Friday and Saturday and the earlier session only today) to taste and discuss issues with the bodegas and developments in the area such as the state of the harvest, marketing plans etc. The fair has always been a good opportunity to catch up with the many friends from across Valencia who also attend and increasingly International visitors as the regions wines are becoming better known abroad.

VÍ vid with Felix Cuartero, President PROAVA and Treasurer Ferevin.

VÍ vid with Felix Cuartero, President PROAVA and Treasurer Ferevin.

Ricardo´s Blog has always used the fair as an opportunity to plan visits to the area as well and there was no change to that strategy this year! However,  increasingly this blog will also be reporting on the publicity work of VÍ vid, a new project being pursued by close friend Marian Daras and myself aimed at targeting specific promotion of Valencian wines and gastronomy, working directly with bodegas, the authorities and like-minded organisations to escalate the rate that knowledge becomes spread internationally. This is being done through tastings in English and Spanish as well as the organisation and planning of specific events as well as bodega visits.

To this end our visits have been less about our knowledge of the products this year and rather more about our knowledge of the background to the bodegas and their plans, problems etc. There was plenty of tasting to be done however and there are abbreviated notes for the regular readers who I know follow the blog for recommendations etc!!!!

 

Ernesto Carcel, President Ferevin.

Ernesto Carcel, President Ferevin.

President of the Fair this year is Ernesto Carcel, of Bodegas El Rebollar, Ernesto Carcel, whose bodega we visited earlier this year and who subsequently sponsored a tasting held in the Headquarters of PROAVA,  the Government agency promoting agriculture, gastronomy and wine.

His family bodega has, like many suffered from the drought this year but, although the harvest is reduced this year has still managed to commence the `vendimia´. He also told us that they had completed the sale of a significant amount of wine to Nigeria which was on the cards when we visited.

This had exhausted the stocks of their distinctive white wine, a pure Macabeo fermented and aged in American oak which has long been a favourite of mine. The 2005 was the first vintage I had tried but earlier this year they had moved on to the 2007 which I felt was a little lighter and fresher. However all of this was sold and at the fair they were showing the golden coloured 2012 vintage which for me is more reminiscent of the 2005. This is a big wine which needs food ( it would be perfect with Paella) and for those who know their Spanish wines is very like an aged Rioja such as those from Tondonia.

Carcel de Corpa, Oaked Macabeo.

Carcel de Corpa, Oaked Macabeo.

Amongst the International Visitors this year were Alizarin Wine, the independent South London wine store whose directors are Tim and Suzanne O´Donnell. They were here ahead of a holiday and came to visit the fair with a view to purchasing the next batch of wines. VÍ vid was pleased to be able to introduce them to a range of new wines and bodegas and will be accompanying Tim on his next visit to show him some of the bodegas and taste more extensively.

VÍ vid and Alizarin Wine.

VÍ vid and Alizarin Wine.

Vera de Estenas has achieved Pago status and this is now reflected in the new labels which were being shown for the first time at this fair. Felix Martinez the owner was tied up with the harvest which commenced three weeks earlier than normal due the weather this year. However we caught up with him briefly and enjoyed a glass of the Bodega´s Chardonnay which is also fermented in oak     ( French in this case ) and which undergoes a brief crianza in contact with the lees. This is a consistent wine and once again the new vintage, 2013, is full of banana and tropical fruit on the nose and is fresh in the mouth. Felix told us that the Pago  was holding a formal presentation of their wines to celebrate the new status on 11 September ( by Invitation) in the Westin Hotel, Valencia . We will be attending and will report further!

Pago Vera de Estenas

Pago Vera de Estenas

Vegalfaro was the last bodega we had visited and reported on just a couple of weeks ago. Owner Rodolfo Garcia was also overseeing the harvest of the white varieties and we did not get to talk further with him. However Miriam who works at the bodega was on hand to bring us up to date and show us a wine which Rodolfo has introduced to the range as a tribute to an Uncle who recently passed away. This is a young style wine, a blend of Bobal and Merlot which is fresh, fruity and full. We enjoyed a glass with Bollo, the local bread baked with sausages and bacon produced around Requena.

Almorzando! Vegalfaro´s Tio Emilio and Bollo.

Almorzando! Vegalfaro´s Tio Emilio and Bollo.

Bodegas Cueva with owner/winemaker Mariano Taberner were showing his range of new wines, sparkling low alcohol and alcohol free which he is happily marketing now. He also produces a couple of liquor style wines such as a ginger wine which has proved very popular. Fortunately Mariano had recently discovered a handful of cases of the bodegas original 2006 wine and had brought a few bottles for the press, professionals and friends. This had been produced as joven, or young style of wine. It was however a brilliant example of the wines the bodega originally were making a name from.

A rare bottle of Cuevas 2006!

A rare bottle of Cuevas 2006!

We spent some time with Ana Suria, one of the owners of  Bodega Pago de Tharsys. Over a glass of Unico 2008, the Bodegas sparkling wine ( effectively a cava ) which is a Blanc de Negre, a white made from the regions local variety Bobal, we chatted about a number of issues and were joined by Silvia Soria Cases,  formerly a Canal 9 journalist who now has her own regular slot on independent radio. `El Forcat de Silvia´ her regular programme is a by-word for promoting Valencian Gastronomy and her knowledge and experience of the regions food and wines is almost unsurpassed.

VÍ vid and Silvia Soria Cases.

VÍ vid and Silvia Soria Cases.

Ana´s husband and co-owner of Pago de Tharsys, Vicente Garcia  was due to receive a tribute that evening  for the 40 years of work in the world of wine. The award comes from the Organisers of the Fiesta of the Vendimia and reflects his whole career which includes teaching, studies in agriculture , a period learning about and making cava in Cataluña, his return to Requena to found Bodega Torre Oria and with his group of co-owners to fight for the town to have the right to make cava. Subsequently he has been Director of Covibex, Valencia´s experimental bodega in Chiva before starting up in Pago de Tharsys.VÍ vid will be helping with the harvest of the grapes for the 2014 Unico.

Pago de Tharsys 2008 Unico.

Pago de Tharsys 2008 Unico.

Carlos Carcel has his bodega also in El Rebollar where he produces excellent wines under the Valle de Tejo and other trademarks. He also has been President of Ferevin and is noted for being the first winemaker to introduce a Gran Reserva from Bobal , as well as the only producer of a Bobal Maceración Carbonica. After a glass of the ripe and full Macabeo white from 2013 as a palate cleanser we tried the young Bobal . It proved to have an explosion of raspberry and strawberry fruit on the nose and in the mouth was fresh, very full and showing well the liquorice and chocolate the variety is famed for. This is a very easy drinker. By contrast the Gran Reserva 2000, perhaps more Riojan in style was ( despite its still bright colour) showing its age.

Eduardo and Nohemi at Sebirán

Eduardo and Nohemi at Sebirán

Joint prize for presentation of stands ( if there were one ) would undoubtedly go to Pago de Tharsys and Sebirán,  the bodega run by Ken Wagener. The bodega is celebrating its centenary this year and under Ken has extended the range of wines in the `C´`J´and `Z´ranges. Accompanied by partner Nohemi and son Eduardo ( who secretly is really in charge) the stand received a consistent stream of tasters and significantly buying customers for their easy drinking wines. I fully admit to commencing the second morning session with a glass of the Brut Nature Cava and  thoroughly recommend it!

One Bodega not visited yet has been Sierra Norte based in Camporrobles. They produce a range of wines, regularly selected by the DO for events promoted by them. The Pasión de Bobal which has regularly been highly rated by Parker and which is available in London is a fresh easy drinking red with good varietal characteristics which also accompanies several styles of local dishes as we have experienced when lunching locally. Arrangements have now been made to visit and a full blog will be released in October.

Wines From Sierra Norte.

Wines From Sierra Norte.

Two of the larger Bodegas from the town Coviñas and Murviedro and the Cooperativa Utielana were also showing a wide range of wines , the Al Vent range from Coviñas proving very popular. UVÉ, Requena´s Cava producer also brought several of their wide range of wines. Their role is also to produce cava for bodegas which do not have the right to directly make their own.

Vereda Real , the Requena bodega where Pedro makes wine in conjunction with the University in Valencia in terracotta tinaja´s and a Square barrica where the oak can be changed and combined in different proportions. He  was in Alicante so we unable to ascertain whether there would be any Bobal Blanco in 2014.

Dominio de La Vega also make extremely good cava and the best way to finish off the fair was with a glass of the Pinot Noir, made by Dani Esposito, who likewise was unable to attend as the grapes for the cava were being harvested.

Dominio de la Vega, Cava Pinot Noir.

Dominio de la Vega, Cava Pinot Noir.

Following our visit twelve of us  repaired to the terrace at Los Cubillos, VÍ vid being joined by Alizarin Wine and members of the Pedralba Wine Club.

This restaurant nestled under the castle walls serves high quality regional dishes at very reasonable prices and as well as one of our favourites is regularly used by the wine-makers and bodega owners whose wines can be found amongst the comprehensive selection of references from Utiel-Requena and Valencia.

Carpaccio of octopus.

Carpaccio of octopus.

Between us we shared carpachio of octopus, ajo arriero, a duck salad, scrambled eggs with prawns and bacon, a range of  main courses including grilled and oven cooked bream, confit of duck, swordfish and secreto of pork, followed by homemade desserts and coffee with wine all included for 20€ a head.

The end of a perfect day during which we realised no-one had really noticed the building where the fair was being held! Maybe that ´s for the best!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Visit to Viñedos y Bodegas Vegalfaro – Contrasts Ahead of the Harvest!


Vegalfaro

 

Rodolfo Valiente Garcia is a passionate man, passionate about his bodega , his vineyards and the wines he makes!

Our visit this week was to his bodega, situated on the Vega close to the Rio Magro on the outskirts of Requena. For those who know the old road from El Ponton to Utiel, the entrance to the bodega is under a stand of pine trees directly opposite  Torre Oria in the hamlet of El Azagador. Here the vineyards surround the bodega which sits on a small mound, Tempranillo, Merlot, Bobal, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and a little Macabeo ( for the Bodegas Cava ) are the varieties which are grown here on one of the other parcels ( Los Balagueses) which is situated in the Hoces de Cabriel Natural Park

Looking toward the Merlot.

Looking toward the Merlot.

We started in the Bodega´s visitor centre and Rodolfo explained how 2014 was turning into an `interesting´year for a number of reasons!

He is not far from commencing his harvest with the Sauvignon Blanc, traditionally an early picked variety in the zone. This year picking will be nearly three weeks earlier than usual, the long hot dry summer having played its part in ripening the grapes quickly. But not everything is ripening evenly. Nor is all well.

Rodolfo with the Young Bobal.

Rodolfo with the Young Bobal.

Much of the Bobal harvest could be written off as there was insufficient rain. Given that this is a variety that is generally resistant to drought this comes perhaps as a bit of a surprise, but the reality is there was no rain before the budding commenced , nor indeed until after flowering and the growth simply has not been there. Other producers in the area have also expressed their concern that older vines ( those that produce the best, most concentrated grape juice, are actually dying.

The Balagueses plots have Pago status and the bodega´s flagship wines are produced there. Other parts of the vineyards could also have Pago status but Rodolfo dismisses the idea because of the quality differences in the wines which are almost entirely down to the different soil types. The vineyards surrounding the bodega are generally rich red soil, with plenty of river stones mixed in and free draining.

Over in the Natural Park the soils are chalky and white. The bodega possesses its own water supply from a natural source meaning the grapes can be irrigated when necessary, water which is not treated with or polluted by chemicals which fits well with the ecological status the vineyards enjoy, reflected by governments certificate displayed on the back lables of the bottles of wine.

With the Merlot

With the Merlot

However the irrigation pipes bring their own problems…or at the very least make a solution to another problem difficult to achieve. As we walked down to look at the plots of  Merlot and Bobal at the base of the mound rabbit droppings were very evident. This year the plague of rabbits which has effected the area for some years has worsened. Normally rabbits take the young growth and bottom bunches of grapes but this year, just to add to the problems they have been burrowing down and attacking the root systems of the vines. It is hunting land but the shooters cannot fire in the vineyards because of the danger of rupturing the irrigation system!

The Merlot is also not ripening evenly, in one plot the sugar levels are 1.5º lower than others within a kilometer and a half from the bodega.

In the Bodega

In the Bodega

Even the older Bobal vines with around 40 years age are showing differences. First we had looked at a plot of Bobal vines with just 6 years of age with their bunches of tightly compact grapes which normally Rodolfo would use for his rosado. The older vines had some compact bunches but also  some of the looser smaller berried bunches which you would expect from vines of this age…all on the same vine. In a good year these would be harvested separately, the bigger bunches going into young or `joven´styles of wine and the looser bunches being selected carefully for the top wines.

We walked back up the hill and looked around the bodega. Starting with the destalker Rodolfo explained that the grapes were passed by pump through underground pipes to the deposits after tests for sugar content and health. The deposits themselves are computer controlled so that temperature and alcohol contents can be continually monitored and adjusted as necessary without the need for further human intervention, which for example saves a lot of work just in the process of pumping over allowing the small number of bodega workers to sleep normally.

With the 25kg Boxes

With the 25kg Boxes

The white grapes will be harvested mechanically at night and processed at the bodega from 6am in the morning, all arriving in 25kg boxes to avoid the grapes breaking under their own weight and the juice oxidising.

Rodolfo also has a much smaller destalker which is used for the wines from Los Balagueses. here depending on Ph etc the decision can be made to destalk completely, half destalk or indeed to leave all the stalks in place.

We moved on and looked into the two barrel stores, ( Rodolfo keeps his new barrels and his old barrels separately) before looking at the bottling plant and the storage areas where the cava was resting during its 3o months `en rima´. The bodega makes around 7-8 thousand bottles of their Brut Nature annually.

As we moved back to the visitor centre for a tasting of the Bodegas range of wines, Rodolfo told us about his marketing strategy which is very much aimed at export to countries such as Poland, Germany, Sweden and Denmark where Ecological wines are much better appreciated and understood. Spain has many ecological bodegas but despite the long time and effort required to achieve it the Spanish have not generally embraced the concept.

He will also expand into the growing Asian market having a toehold currently in Taiwan. When asked about the UK he was not the first to express a widely held view that it is a `difficult market´ but he was the first to explain in some detail how the UK Government tax take and the need to have an importer in place before you show your wines is seen as a major stumbling block for would be exporters. And he was brutally honest enough to say that wines from Valencia are generally not known in the UK because of the wine-buyers blind spots, ( generally they stick with Rioja regardless of the better price to quality comparison Valencian wines offer!)

Vegalfaro Brut Nature Reserva 2009

Vegalfaro Brut Nature Reserva 2009

Our tasting commenced with the Vegalfaro Brut Nature Reserva 2009, 11.5% ABV. the wine is a blend of Chardonnay and Macabeo with 30 months in contact with the lees. The wine had been disgorged six-months previously and Rodolfo puts this date on the back lable so that customers know when the wine was put into the market.

The wine showed a good mousse with fine persistent bubbles rising through a golden coloured wine which was clear and very bright. On the nose the wine was fruity, with good hints of both patisserie ( brioche) and citrus notes. In the mouth the wine is clean, the bubbles are well-integrated and the wine has good volume with an easy pass across the palate and a long finish. This is a wine to accompany good food.

Second wine was the Vegalfaro Chardonnay 2013 , 13% ABV 2.5 months in oak.

Pale gold, clean and bright with long legs the 2013 comes from a good year for white wines, in contrast the Spring of last year was wet! On the nose the wine was immediately right `in your face´a very expressive explosion of fruit with tropical notes, pineapple, passion fruit, banana.  In the mouth the wine was clean and fresh, with good acidity, nicely balanced fruit and quite unctuous.

The Pasamonte 2013, Sauvignon Blanc, 12.5% ABV, comes from a finca near to Balagueses. Pale gold in colour, clean , bright and with good legs. On the nose the wine is full of white flowers, creamy and with good fruit. In the mouth it is clean and fresh, well-balanced peach and apricot fruit  and a long full  finish with a dry minerally touch.

The Vegalfaro Rosado 2013, Merlot/Bobal, 13% ABV   is produced for export. It has an onion skin colour with long legs. It is made from the natural run off of juice without pressing and has a fresh, light mature red currant fruit nose, and is a little more acidic than a pure Bobal with its ripe strawberry fruit. In the mouth it is light, fresh, with a good touch of fruit.

Pago Los Balagueses Chardonnay

Pago Los Balagueses Chardonnay

The Pago los Balagueses Chardonnay 2012, 13% ABV .   Alcoholic and Malolactic fermentation take place in the barrel and the wine then sits in the lees for six months with daily batonnage. ( A stirring process during which the dead yeasts impart proteins into the wine.)

The wine is old gold in colour, is clean, bright and has very long slow developing legs. On the nose the citrus fruit is ripe, dried orange skin, almost marmalade, with hints of oak and patisserie. In the mouth it is very smooth on the pass across the palate, unctuous, very full and ripe, with vanilla and orange fruit and a very long finish. A truly wonderful wine.

Rebel.lia 2013 , is a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha Tintorera and Bobal with 14% ABV.

This is a young  wine whose existence is owed very much to a change of lable design. Bright cherry red with with a violet edge and long legs. On the nose mature red fruit, very expressive. In the mouth, very fruity, full of flavour, explosive red fruits, long round smooth finish, very easy to drink!

Caprasia Bobal 2012, 14% ABV.

The wine is ready but the lable is undergoing a re-design before launch. Finca Los Balagueses is in the area near to Los Duques where the Las Pilillas archeological site can be found, home to the oldest ( and the first truly commercial) bodega found in Spain. This dates back some 2,500 years and was part of the first settlements of the Iberian people who travelled from the coast at Cullera, the Phoenician base, up old-established paths by the river Jucar and ultimately the  Cabriel and who formed the settlement of Kelin which is Requena´s original name. The name is taken partly from the Cabriel and partly from the native l wild goats.

Caprasia, awaiting its new lable.

Caprasia, awaiting its new lable.

The wine is deep black cherry in colour, with a violet edge and multiple long slow legs which coloured the glass. On the nose it is concentrated, complex, with deep, mature fruit, cherry, blackcurrant, blueberry, with black pepper and chocolate. In the mouth this is meaty, full, concentrated with mature black cherry fruit and liquorice. A truly stunning wine from Bobal, cant wait for it to be available!

9th wine in the tasting, Pago Los Balagueses 2012 Syrah with 14.5% ABV, is also a black wine with a violet edge and long legs. On the nose the wine is spiky with a raspberry peppery hit which as always with good syrah leaves you catching your breath! And what a good syrah it was , in the mouth, ripe, rich and full, with very good volume, sweet tannins, good acidity, and is well structured and balanced. Fresh and with a long finish.

Over lunch which followed in a nearby San Antonio bar/restaurant, we enjoyed a bottle of the 2010 Pago Los Balagueses Merlot 13.5% ABV.

Pago los Balagueses 2010 Merlot.

Pago los Balagueses 2010 Merlot.

 

Garnet in colour, the wine had lots of black ripe fruits , plum and damson, on the nose. In the mouth a natural fruitiness was balanced with smooth tannins, a medium bodied red which is well-balanced and accompanied ribs cooked in honey. There was no hint of bitterness either in the finish, often a sign of over-ripe fruit. Excellent!

These are wines for food and one place you will find the wines for sale around Valencia are in restaurants owned by the top chefs Raul Alexandre and Quique Dacosta!

A satisfactory tasting!

A satisfactory tasting!

Once again the visit turned out to be educational as well as interesting and an opportunity to discuss in-depth several issues facing the bodega and the DO in Utiel-Requena. Thank you once again to Rodolfo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

Biblioteca del Sumiller

Una página dedicada al mundo del vino, la sumilleria y la restauración para el aficionado y el profesional ávido de información y formación....

Topochines Vino

A place to buy unique wines from around the world.

BLOTTO

British drinks & Otto the Dachshund

Caroline Angus

New Zealand author, historian and book reviewer. Spanish history, culture, civil war, bullfighting and historical memory writer. Creator of Tudor and Medici fiction

grapefriend

grapefriend. wine. fun.

tamaraessex's Blog

helping charities achieve their objectives

a lot of wind...

dispatches from the end of Europe

vinosarmentero

El vino como nunca antes lo habías conocido

%d bloggers like this: