Romantic Dream…to Reality! Viñedos y bodegas Monsata Perdigón is Born!


Monsata Perdigon3

 

I am not sure where to begin!

With the creation of a new Bodega? With the revival of a `lost´grape variety? With a seemingly impossible dream shared by three friends?  Oh well, let’s have a go and see if we can draw the themes together!

So, we start with a grape variety, a peculiar white variety with the name `Plantafina de Pedralba´. This is a variety which has long been believed to have disappeared,  un-appreciated, the variety uneconomical, the vineyards grubbed-up in the 1980´s, victims of the push for the new cash cow of  citrus fruits and silly money from the EU who paid for their destruction!

8 years back or so, I asked a question in Verema´s forums about the variety, but no-one was able to tell me whether there was a wine produced from it.

Plantafina was a variety planted widely around Pedralba  and clearly had a reputation as there is reference to it in Jancis Robinson´s 1986 classic book, `Vines, Grapes and Wines´. This remember was a period when the only wines known outside Spain were from Rioja and nobody had ever heard of Valencian wines! No wines from the region were bottled, being produced solely for local consumption or export and subsequent blending.

Jancis Robinson MW, Photo by John Wyand.

Jancis Robinson MW, Photo by John Wyand.

Moreover, it appears that it was only grown  around Pedralba. To the North West in the Alto Turia the preferred white variety was, and still is , Merseguera. To the East in Vilamarxant the favoured variety was red, Garnacha or Tempranillo. To the South, Moscatel de Alexandria is still the dominant variety around Turis, Monserrat and Godelleta.  In Utiel-Requena to the West the main varieties were the red Bobal and if you wanted white,  Macabeo was readily available.

Pedralba´s Cooperative dates to 1919. According to Juan Piqueras who recorded the history of Valencian Wines in his tome from 2000, `El Llegado de Baco. ´ According to Piqueras, production halved between 1999 and 2000 and inevitably the co-op stopped making its own wines. Elaboration transferred to Covibex as did that of the neighbouring towns of Bugarra, Lliria, Vilamarxant and others although the trademark names of the wines remained. To day the Cooperative is dedicated to fruit only.

They sell wines with the name `Plantafina´ in the co-op shop in Pedralba. This is the old trademark of the former bodega.

Stainless steel deposits in the modern Bodega.

Stainless steel deposits in the modern Bodega.

Pedralba itself sits at the base of the Cambrillas range of hills, on the boundary between the Camp de Turia, Serranos and Alto Turia `counties´ of Valencia.

The river Turia flows around, as well as through, the village. The Coop is owned by Spain´s biggest agricultural conglomerate, Anecoop. The grand houses of the bodegueros on the main street are sadly long gone or converted into flats.

But, the wine making tradition has not died, even if it has skipped a couple of generations! Ironically, despite the lure of citrus fruit production, made easy by the huge natural underground water deposits, today the local farmers are introducing Kiwi fruit!

Nor has the variety `disappeared´ as it turns out!

Last year a Spanish friend told me about a plot of Plantafina which had been discovered and despite neglect, recovered. In December 2014 I was told two new wines were being produced from the Plantafina variety and within days I had found a source for them!. The local co-op, despite a potential clash of trademark, was selling them in their shop!

Tasting Plantafina de Pedralba at the 48º Circulo de Pedralba Tasting

Tasting Plantafina de Pedralba at the 48º Circulo de Pedralba Tasting

In January they had been tasted, evaluated and placed on the agenda for the 48th meeting of the Pedralba wine club! They were an instant hit!

On 12 February the wines  were being offered at a major event in the village in which VÍ vid took part as collaborators , `Sabores HispanoMexicanos´ organised by Silvia Melendez Herrero of `La Pitanza de Pedralba´ restaurant.

Pedralba3

Once again the wines were an instant success and when speaking to villagers attending the event they spoke of the historical wines from the variety and recalled how in good vintages they were aged in oak. Many said the new wines reminded them of their historical antecedents.

And so to today´s new Bodega, `Viñedos y bodega Monsata Perdigón´. This is a project, the romantic dream of the title, of Gonzalo Ortega Sanmiguel. Ricardo Bayo and Toni Sebastian Rodriguez.

Gonzalo Ortega Sanmiguel, Ricardo Bayo and Toni Sebastian Rodriguez.

Gonzalo Ortega Sanmiguel, Ricardo Bayo and Toni Sebastian Rodriguez.

 

Having found the old plot of vines ( vines between 40-60 years in age and planted `en vaso´)  and a new plot into which to plant new vines from  the variety with cuttings crossed with phylloxera resistant vine-stocks, they set about creating the new bodega five years ago.

As an estimated  colleague from the press put it last week `why on earth would you do it, especially in Pedralba?´

 

Old Plantafina de Pedralba Vines `en vaso´.

Old Plantafina de Pedralba Vines `en vaso´.

All three appear to be typical  of the young generation, who have reacted to  Valencia´s financial crisis and are  determined to  revive  a great historical variety and give the town back its reputation as the `cradle´ of Valencian wine-making!

But there is little more than a passing reference to the history of bulk wine-making involved here! The bodega is dedicated to making quality wine with modern techniques. If future vintages can be improved they will be, including   the use of oak for fermentation or short crianza.

Pruning the old vines.

Pruning the old vines.

We were very pleased to have been invited to attend a presentation this week, not just an opportunity to taste the wines again, but to participate in a brainstorming session with colleagues from the specialist wine-press, sumilleres and  wine-makers including the former technical director of DO Valencia .

In Palacio Fesol restaurant, just off Calle Colon,  in the heart of Valencia we met to hear a presentation  from the owners, taste the two wines they produce and advise them on future production and marketing .

5 Barricas, ( El Mundo) and José Vicente Guillem Ruiz.

5 Barricas, ( El Mundo) and José Vicente Guillem Ruiz. ( centre).

First the wines. Both are from 2014, both 12% ABV and both Vinos de Autor. Currently the bodega is outside the rules of DO Valencia but is receiving advice and help from them.

2014 is the first vintage and reflects a very dry year with healthy grapes. The vines had undergone two periods when the putative grapes were removed resulting in a selection which ensured later flowering, budding and producing bunches with  looser grapes with more concentration, certainly not more than 1.5kg per vine.

photo 4(16)

The first is a pure Plantafina de Pedralba. Pale straw, edging to pale gold in colour, clean and very bright although the wine has a tendency to display fine bubbles when first poured. On the nose it is not initially hugely expressive, a view of the whole panel who believed more could be done in the maceration period to extract more flavour from the skins.

However there was plenty of ripe melon and orange blossom on the nose. With evolution in the glass it showed apricot stone and membrillo.

In the mouth on the initial pass there were hints of fennel, great acidity, round, a wine which fills the mouth before a very long full dry finish with a touch of minerality reflecting the soils which are a mixture of gravel and sand but almost no chalk. The panel felt that this was a typically Mediterranean and Valencian wine, although it was not hugely expressive initially it was distinct and very expressive of the soils on which it was grown.

Vicente Morcillo ( Levante-EMV) left, Axel LLorens, Nariz Plata, 2014. ( ist from right.)

Vicente Morcillo ( Levante-EMV) left, Axel LLorens, Nariz Plata, 2014. ( ist from right.)

With a touch more natural sugar the experts felt that future vintages could indeed benefit from fermentation or short crianza in oak. It was certainly a wine which meets current market requirements .

The second wine is a blend of 60% Plantafina and 40% Moscatel. Slightly paler in colour but cleaner and more brilliant in glass. On the nose the influence of the Moscatel predominated with ripe white apricot and peach. There were also hints of fennel and lychee, a point of view emphasised also by Axel Llorens, Nariz Plata  and  sumiller and Vicente Morcillo, journalist at Levante-EMV.

The blending of Valencia´s sweet variety with drier varieties ( Chardonnay, Macabeo or Verdil) is a proven success producing wines which are fresh and floral on the nose but well balanced and dry.

In the mouth this was undoubtedly the case, the Plantafina predominating despite the presence of the Moscatel!

And, so to the future. The bodega´s two hectares produced around 5000 bottles in 2014. A better year weatherwise might allow slightly larger production in 2015 if there is no need to reduce the number of bunches per vine quite so dramatically…. but quality will remain the watchword.

This will all depend on natural rainfall as the vineyards are not watered and no chemicals are used in an ecological production.

VÍ vid with the Bodega´s owners.

VÍ vid with the Bodega´s owners.

VÍ vid were very pleased to have been invited to participate in such an exercise, we wish the bodega huge  success for the future and we hope to be able to help them market wines which clearly should appeal to the UK market.

Any UK-based importers of wines from Spain should be contacting us rapidly. The 5000 bottle production of this first vintage is rapidly diminishing and we promise you, the wines are wonderful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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