Top Tastings in Valencia, with Bodegas BOCOPA and Enrique Mendoza.


Bocopa TastingThe last month has been somewhat busy with events and tastings around the Valencian Community as well as the second Castellon Wine Fair and two tastings of wines from across Spain.The first was by the Castellon Wine Distributors ( VindiCas) and the second a tasting given to mark the 10th anniversary of the Grandes Pagos de España. VÍ vid has been active, attending all the tastings as well as the launch last week of the new range of wines from Bodegas Vegamar.

Two of these tastings stood out for the diverse manner in which they were held and the contrast in the types of wines which were available to taste.

The first of these was a `Cata Magistral ´ or masterclass tasting of 5 wines from BOCOPA, given by the bodega and led by Ivan Martinez Hierro who won Spain’s premier competition for Sommelliers, the Nariz D´Or, this year. It was held in the Westin Hotel in Valencia on 3 December and attracted an audience of some 200 wine professionals.

BOCOPA

BOCOPA´s trajectory has been quite marked. The bodega is a modern entity, created in 1987 by the amalgamation of eight bodegas in DO Alicante in a way which was intended to give the entity sufficient size to make quality wine with capital behind it for modern techniques.

It has  1600 members who possess some 10k hectares of wines and makes table, organic, sparkling and dessert wines which have a growing reputation. They are responsible for some 60% of wine production in Alicante province.

HQ is a modern bodega in Petrer with 4000 square meters , opened in the year 2000. 70% of the production sells in the National market and the remainder is exported. The bodega is probably best know for its `Marina Alta´ white, the brand new `Marina´ Sparkling wines and `Laudum´ a range of organic wines. Top of the pile however is a Fondillon, `Alone´. We were to taste from these ranges but in total the bodega owns 30+ trademarks.

Bocopa2

First wine then was the Marina Alta Blanco. This is a white wine made from a particular clone of Moscatel of Alexandria  , grown on terraced slopes overlooking the sea near Calpe,  40-year-old vines which benefit from cooling sea breezes.

The white moscatels of DO Alicante generally have a light touch and freshness which marks them out from their cousins from DO Valencia which are generally fatter.

The wine is very pale lemon in colour, crystal clear, bright and has a very aromatic nose…characteristic of the variety. It is immediately fresh, floral,  with white fruits such as  apricot plus  lowquat and lychee.  As the wine evolves in glass there is a hint of oiliness, apricot kernel ( which is certainly no fault giving it interesting depth)  and later still with oxygenation there are distinct scents of  basil.

photo 3(21)

In the mouth the wine is fresh and quite full. Fennel is the first flavour to emerge from a wine which has sugar, alcohol and acidity in perfect balance. It enjoys a long full finish with an apricot after note.

This is a smooth, aromatic white, intense, elegant and a great accompaniment for seafood rice dishes, fideuà or indeed simply as an aperitif. It is available widely in supermarkets throughout Valencia.

The second wine was a sparkling light wine from the same variety. Marina 7º is one of a new range of sparkling wines being introduced throughout Valencia and seen as an answer to the over-reliance on imported lambrusco´s . There is no question of the difference in the level of quality!

Ivan Martinez Hierro, Nariz D´Oro

Ivan Martinez Hierro, Nariz D´Oro,(Right).

On pouring the wine is the same colour as the last but has small lively bubbles, a good mousse which when it dissipates leaves persistent bubbles forming spirals and roses on the surface. The aroma of soft white fruit is matched with a hint of rubber, or tarmac which quickly departs leaving a characteristic moscatel. After half an hour in glass it displays quite strong floral notes of elderflower.

In the mouth this light wine is smooth on entry, balanced, refreshing, then pineapple and tropical fruits, the bubbles are just right in the mouth. It has been compared to drinking a cold beer in its level of refreshment!

This would accompany lighter meals, seafood rice dishes, or equally cakes and pastries. It has, since its first release, won 25 international medals and this year alone a gold `Berliner Wine Trophy´and  a silver `Mundis Vini ´award.

The third wine was the big brother from this range, Marina Monastrell 10º, a sparkling red from Alicante´s prime red variety.

The grapes for this wine come from La Cañada, are hand-picked from old vines in goblet shape and is made by cold maceration to extract maximum colour and fruit flavours from the skins.

It is a medium bodied,  cherry red wine, youthful to the eye, with fine persistent bubbles and a strong mousse. It is fresh and very fruity on the nose, blackcurrant, guinda cherry ( bitter cherry preserved in liqueur and used for baking cakes) , soft cherries.

In the mouth there is an initial sweetness, good bite from the bubbles, jammy fruit flavours,  structured, mineral and refreshing. This is a very surprising and pleasant, sparkling red, not too sweet which would match tapas, rice dishes, blue fish, meat , fruits and cakes . I have also successfully tried this with a `chocolate brownie´.

Fourth wine was a still red Crianza 2010 from the Laudum range.

The wine has spent some 16 months in oak ( 70% French,  30% American.) and a further 16 months in bottle before release.

A blend of Monastrell, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  It has an intense ruby colour with a garnet rim and purple flashes.

On the nose the wine displays a full nose, powerful with fruits of the forest, oak and vanilla. The fruit is round deep, mature.

In the mouth it is rich, velvety, deep and quite complex with notes of spice, ( vanilla) smooth tannins , good structure and backbone, mature fruit.

This is a much more traditional style of wine and a marked difference to its predecessors. Complex, fruity and pleasant it would match red meats, game and cheeses.

Fondillon , Alone

Fondillon , Alone

Finally we tasted the Bodega´s Fondillon, 1987 Cosecha, Gran Reserva, from pure Monastrell.

Fondillon is a truly historic wine , popular from the  16th Century onwards, exported to the French Royal Household and to the Uk ( where it was known as `Alacant´) . It is made from the small berries of very old vines, late picked when the sugar levels are around 16º or more. It is then aged for a long time in large oak casks, until it becomes rancio, or sherry like in style. It is one of just four luxury wines as classified by the EU along with sherry, port and Champagne but it is a natural wine with no added sugars,  nor is it fortified with alcohol.

The first thing you notice about the wine is its colour, amber, almost light red copper and its clarity and long legs. This particular wine is 17%ABV.

On the nose you would expect a `sherry style´and you would not be disappointed. It is full of figs, honey, fig cake ( the dried figs pressed with nuts into a round shape and wrapped) . Just like the cake when it is unwrapped, when the wine is poured there is a massive hit of these fruit flavours plus dried grapes and dates.

In the mouth this is amplified, a rancio finish but a big, rich wine which would be ideal with blue cheeses, puddings or as an aperitif.

This is a very big wine.

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The second tasting was of four wines from the artisan bodega of Enrique Mendoza. The bodega is also modern , opening in 1989. Enrique Mendoza was a grocer in the town of L´Alfas del Pi between Altea and Benidorm  ( also in DO Alicante) . He planted his first 200 vines in 1970 for his own consumption of wine.

With the passing of time the planting increased he began to sell wine as well. With each vintage his experience grew until he decided it was time to learn new techniques. It was time for serious wines!

From 1989 he acquired 120 hectares of vines in Villena.

When I came to Spain in 2004 his son Pepe was already known as a `flying wine-maker´. One of a breed who learnt in the Northern hemisphere in Spring and Summer and the Southern hemisphere during their wine-making periods. They were the masters of new techniques, applying them as soon as learned, to make the best of modern styles of wine.

Bodega Enrique Mendoza

Bodega Enrique Mendoza

Today the Bodega is one of the Grandes Pagos de España. Pepe´s wines are legendary….so this was a tasting not to be missed especially as VÍ vid are booked to do a tasting in two weeks in Alicante matching the wines with salted and air-dried fish products ( Salazones).

The tasting ( which took the form of a workshop) was held in the HQ of Proava and was aimed at the next generation of wine lovers. It was led by Maria Jose Salvador, winemaker at Mamerto de la Vera, the Cheste based bodega producing sweet wines and vermouths, much of which are sold in bulk and who export to the United Kingdom.  The tasting was marked by a lively level of participation!

Tasting in Workshop Mode

Tasting in Workshop Mode

The first wine we tried was a young Chardonnay 2013, from Vineyards at Finca El Chaconero, near to Villena. This had had three months in oak .

The wine with its new lable is golden in colour with bright flashes, bright and clean. At 13%ABV it has good strong, long legs.

Mendoza Chardonnay.

Mendoza Chardonnay.

On entry to the mouth the first sensation was the acidity but this was quickly balanced by the fruit. The wine is round, full, has good volume with a very long, dry, mineral finish. This minerality reflects the very special soils in this part of DO Alicante.

This is a round, full wine, very satisfying and a good example of Chardonnay. It is not overoaked, indeed the oaking was reflected more in the colour than the mouth and for us is similar in style to a good Macon wine from Burgundy….true Chardonnay!

The second was a 2011 Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon blend.

Medium to full-bodied, ruby in colour with long legs and a youthful look, the wine colouring the glass.

On the nose intense blackcurrant fruit, with raspberry and liquorice notes. there were also hints of wet earth at the edge of the forest, with spice, nutmeg, and cream.

In the mouth strong tannins and acidity initially but the fruit is rich and ripe, very fresh with fruits of the forest, it fills the mouth and lingers for a long time! You note the alcohol.

This is a very full wine, meaty and not one for quaffing. Also from El Chaconero, this is a wine which would accompany blue fish or cured cheeses. we felt that although it was youthful this was a wine which is actually at its peak now, its freshness, depth and concentration being its biggest asset.

The third wine was the classic Santa Rosa 2011. This is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon with 15% each of Syrah and Merlot. the grapes also come from the Villena vineyards.

Santa Rosa.

Santa Rosa.

The grapes are selected small bunches with greater concentration, which are then fermented and macerated before ageing for 16-17 months in French oak. The wine is then bottled and remains in the cellars for 16 months more at least before release,

Deep garnet in colour, the edge showing some ageing, very glycerinous long legs which take some time to form.

On the nose mature fruit, almost jam in-depth and concentration, black fruit, a little ground pepper, floral and mineral notes.

In the mouth like a liquid jam, concentrated with smooth tannins, full-bodied, balanced and elegant.

Unashamedly big wine and one of our personal favourites. There are those who find the wine predominantly full of stone and mineral flavours but I have never heard a bad word about this wine!

Notwithstanding my comments above the fourth wine was a spectacular blockbuster and on the night, the star!

A 15.5% pure Monastrell Dolç de Mendoza  2009, we all raved about the  pure concentration of this sweet wine made from red grapes. Whilst we should not forget this is the same variety as the Fondillon from the previous tasting the wine could not be a bigger contrast!

Dolç de Mendoza.

Dolç de Mendoza.

A very deep black wine with incredibly long, slow forming and very glycerinous legs.

The wine can only be made in years when the weather allows over-ripening and late picking of concentrated bunches in early December.

On the nose the wine is concentrated, honeyed, with blackberry, plum and damson fruit, mature, like a liquid jam or marmalade!

This is due to the fermentation process which because of the high level of alcohol ( 15-16%) the yeasts die off during the process leaving high levels of residual sugar.

And boy, do you notice this in the mouth! After fermentation the wine goes into American oak for up to three years. The primary notes are fruit, blackberry, strawberry, with cinnamon and nutmeg spices. Then the residual sweetness kicks in with peppery notes, ground fresh black pepper, but the harmony is immense! The whole wine has the feel of a traditional Xmas cake, full of deep, concentrated flavours and smoky notes, treacle. Moreover as the wine evolves in the glass concentrated dried grapes emerge as well.

This is a wine which has a huge long , concentrated finish, like a reduction of port wine to accompany a big game dish. For us two possible accompaniments jumped out…foie gras or traditional Xmas cake!

I know what will be on our Xmas table this year!!!!

So, two quite different tastings of wines from two quite different bodegas both of which represent Alicante´s wines in their own distinct manner. Both tastings given in a different manner, one formal, one informal but both immensely successful with lots of participation. Two fabulous  evenings!

Next? A VÍ vid tasting of old French classic varietal wines from the Rhone Valley, Champagne and Sauternes. An opportunity to see how old wines from noble varieties can be   matched with modern duck dishes served currently in Valencian Community restaurants…coming very soon!

The Proava and VÍ vid tastings team!

The Proava and VÍ vid tastings team!

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