Monthly Archives: July 2015

IGP Castelló Show Their Wines in Peñiscola.



With a session for professionals from the wine, hotel and restaurant trade and the specialist press on Monday morning and two afternoon sessions, Monday and yesterday  for the public,  IGP Castelló took its wines to Peñiscola.

Indication of Protected Geography is the way in which the EU currently designates new wine areas and despite its long history of wine-making Castellon province is recovering from a 20th century that all bar destroyed the vineyards.

IGP is often seen as a route to obtaining full Denominación de Origen ( DO ) status and this is certainly the aim of bodegas which make up the IGP.

Led by Ismael Sanjuán Monzonis ( President) and Guzman Orero ( Secretary) the IGP has quietly been working its way through the complicated procedures with around 12 of the bodegas in the province. There are more bodegas but not all are ready or able to meet the standards required yet.

Guzman Orero, Masia de la Hoya and Secretary to the IGP.

Guzman Orero, Masia de la Hoya and Secretary to the IGP.

The bodegas in question have all submitted wines for analysis and their production methods have been scrutinized with success leaving the powers in Brussels to fix a date for DO Status to be awarded.

All of this enjoyed the support of the outgoing politicians in the agriculture and tourism departments and hopefully their successors from local elections held recently will continue that.

Ricardo´s blog discovered some of the wines of Castellon originally at the annual wine fair held in Valencia´s dry river bed 5 years ago ( organised by Proava) . Subsequently VÍ vid has been following the progress of the IGP generally and much more specifically the individual bodegas, making regular visits to several to taste wines from the cask or deposit, pre-bottling and subsequently on release. We hope to spend one day at one of our favourite Castellon bodegas picking this years harvest.

Professionals at the Inauguration.

Professionals at the Inauguration.

The IGP has shown its wines regularly in Castellon city, firstly in the Old Casino and subsequently in a local park where they have combined the wine fair with artisan food products .

This fair in Peñiscola was a deliberate attempt by the IGP, (many of whose bodega´s have small production and thus sell their wines to local restaurants) , to improve knowledge of their healthy and quality products.

The morning session was dedicated to introducing this local hostelry trade to the wines and cheese etc to the North of Castellon. Apart from the hostelry trade, bloggers and the local TV company attended.

TV Mediterraneo at Baron D ´Alba.

TV Mediterraneo at Baron D ´Alba.

VÍ vid´s relationships with the producers are well documented with visits to the towns of  Les Useres, Segorbe, Vivers, Vilafamés, Castellon and to individual bodegas such as Roques Negres, Mayo-Garcia, Flors, Baron D´Alba, Mas de Rander, Masia de la Hoya, Ismael Sanjuan , Besalduch  y Valls amongst others, all of which have their own blog post in the archives.

During  the inauguration of the fair by the mayor of Peñiscola, Andrés Martinez, he exalted the local quality produce and said `it should be considered normal to order them in local restaurants and to recommend them to visiting tourists´.

Sergio Rodríguez, Sumiller

Sergio Rodríguez, Sumiller

The press etc then moved upstairs to the Council chamber where an informal tasting of some of the wines on show had been planned. This was opened by Guzman Orero who invited Sergio Rodríguez , Nariz de Bronce in the 2014 competition, to introduce the session. Sergio is sumiller at Restaurante de Mediterraneo del Grao in Castellon. He too spoke of the natural inclination to recommend local quality wines to accompany food served in Castellon´s restaurants. He also spoke a little about Castellon´s distinguished wine history and in particular how their  wines were originally present in the top hotels throughout Argentina.

Each of the eight bodega´s attending then introduce a wine for tasting.

We started with Guzman Orero´s Syrah from Masía de la Hoya. 13.5% ABV with 12 months in different oak barrels. We rated this very highly, a medium bodied cherry red wine with long glycerinous legs. Elegant cherry fruit nose, soft oak and smooth tannins in the mouth, this is a rich, round ripe wine with a lovely long finish.

Second wine was the 2013 Syrah, Alvaro Gil from Bodegas TorreGil. This is a new bodega to us, a bodega which has arrangements with other bodegas for the elaboration, storage and bottling of their wines. A little lighter in colour, garnet even, it has had 10 months in French oak. On the nose ripe fruit, almost brambly, mature fruit, in the mouth it was a sensation! A very nice fruity , easy drinking red with real class. We hope to meet the owner again next week to learn more about this `bodega´and its wines!

Wines from DiVinos y Viña

Wines from DiVinos y Viña

The next wine was an `Odisea´ from Bodegas De Vinos i Viñas. This Segorbe based bodega has so far eluded a visit from us and when Tofol and Carmina return from the Baleares where they also have vines, we will catch up with them! The wine was Odisea 2014 Bonicaire, Ull de llebre and Cabernet Sauvignon. The first variety is found very rarely, we have encountered it in the Alto Turia and Terres dels Alforins of DO Valencia as well as in Castellon. Well made , often into Rosado it is excellent. The second variety is the local name for Monastrell. This wine was much brighter, younger and deeper in colour. Bramble fruit, tobacco leaf, but ripe fruit. Tannins kicked in after an easy pass and for us this needed a little more time in bottle. Good wine though!

Next we tasted the L ´Alcalaten , Bodegas Les Useres 86 Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon  with 12 months in American oak. This from the bodega which is not a coop but had 86 growers who founded it, hence the name! A younger , fresher fruitier wine, the fruit on the nose almost sweet and concentrated. In the mouth smooth, brambly fruit, Tempranillo at its best.

Wines from Bodegas Les Useres.

Wines from Bodegas Les Useres.

Juan Domingo Tarrega whose bodega this is has had much advice and consultancy from Michel Poudou, the legendary french wine-maker who also used to look after Chozas Carrascal. Mas de Rander, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah from Benlloch , 14.5% ABV is a big wine in every sense. Intense black cherry, opaque and with long slow glycerinous legs. On the nose, fruit, liquorice, and oak. In the mouth very big, round , smooth tannins and a very long finish. Can´t wait to taste the newer vintages from deposit and cask!

Juando Tarrega, Mas de Rander.

Juando Tarrega, Mas de Rander.

The Clotàs Tempranillo (with 15% Cabernet Sauvignon) from Bodegas Vicente Flors is another big wine at 14% +ABV. Vicente is one of our favourite bodegueros. This genial ex-bank manager will spend hours patiently explaining wine-making techniques and given that he did not come to this business till he retired and took over a derelict family building and recovered the vineyards his reputation is awesome!

Bodegas Flors.

Bodegas Flors.


Intense, deep, opaque black, very  black cherry colour. On the nose this wine is redolent of very mature fruits of the forest, violet floral notes and spice, cinnamon, clove and vanilla.

In the mouth dry, well-balanced, lots of fruit with chocolate and roasted coffee in a long finish.

On what was a very hot day we were to end with two whites.

The first was the Baron, D´Alba Gewurztraminer/ Viognier 2014. We tasted and commented on this wine just six weeks ago when we visited on one of our tasting tours. The wine was ready to be bottled. All I am going to say is that this white is floral and fruity on the nose, with huge aromatic depth. In the mouth it is huge , full of citrus, white fruit such as apricot, spice, mandarine peelings. The acidity is perfectly balanced…this is heading to be our best white wine of 2015!

Victor Bellmunt Introduces his Brut Espumoso.

Victor Bellmunt Introduces his Brut Espumoso.

Finally Victor Bellmunt showed his Ildum Vinarius Espumoso de Castellon, Bellmunt and Oliver Brut from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Cabanes made in the traditional manner with 15 months in rima. This wine won the silver prize at the recent Proava cava and Espumosos fair.

IGP Bodegueros and their Wines.

IGP Bodegueros and their Wines.



On the nose this wine has ripe green apple and patisserie. With evolution there is a touch of tropical fruit, pineapple. In the mouth full, rich, appley, creamy and fresh. A very long finish lacking only a little depth in the bubbles.

Following the tasting we visited the artisan cheese company Tot de Poble some of whose products we had recently tasted with white rioja wines.

Also showing were Guadirium, an internet based shop selling jamones and salchichones, several of which we tried.

Cutting Jamon , Guadirium.

Cutting Jamon , Guadirium.

KM0 were selling a range of artisan beers and cheeses from Cati and several of the bodegueros were now trying the craft ales, the heat having finally got to them!

KM0 with Cheeses from Cati

KM0 with Cheeses from Cati

Magistratus were showing a similar range of fruit and vegetable marmalades which are becoming incredibly popular here with cheese plates and local artisan breads.

We hope the public sessions have gone as well. This was a sensible initiative which has attracted a lot of publicity…hopefully it has increased knowledge of the wines and gourmet foods from Castellon not just around Peniscola but more widely!

VÍ vid Tasting in Peñiscola.

VÍ vid Tasting in Peñiscola.














DO Utiel-Requena; Training Day – Trends in Winemaking and Market Movements.

VÍ vid in the Symposium

VÍ vid in the Symposium


Behind every tasting of wine we undertake is a serious educational element. I have commented before that  VÍ vid  are regularly asked serious questions that are not restricted just to wine-making but include also trading, marketing and cost elements. We consider it important to be aware of the latest trends.

So, when DO Utiel-Requena hold their training days , ( in this case the XVIII Jornada Vitivinicola de la DO Utiel Requena) we make sure we attend and keep abreast of developments!

Last year the theme was the DO´s application for UNESCO World Status for `Territorio Bobal´.

President of the DO, Jose Miguel Medina ,opens the Symposium

President of the DO, Jose Miguel Medina ,opens the Symposium

This year,  in which the DO has concentrated on marketing and communication issues ( there have even been sessions on how to use Twitter better),  there were three themes for the training day.

The first was led by Diego Intrigliolo, an agricultural engineer and investigator  with a doctorate who works for CSIC-CEBAS in Murcia.

Now this session was very much about `climate change.´ We have all seen  that over the last 10-15 years the wine-harvest has advanced by up to three weeks. Growers present at the training day who we spoke to consistently confirmed they were expecting to start picking between two and three weeks earlier than the old norm this year….that is to say half way through August.

First sesion supported by Cajamar

First sesion supported by Cajamar

For us this session was inspirational. We thought, for example that the orientation of vineyards ( North to South or East to West) was long sorted out!  It seems climate change requires a serious re-look at the whole concept, particularly when taken into account with watering during drought……

Serious wine makers don´t want to water their vines.  But there are times when they have to water, to save the vines in times of serious stress, even if it means the crop has to be discarded.

All new plantations of vines are `en espaldera´ by EU regulation. This includes automatic watering systems because new vines do not have roots which can pick up subterranean water sources.

One of the first issues to emerge from the studies they had carried out was that `inclining´( or leaning ) the espaldera could reduce water consumption by up to  10%  without affecting quality) , the over growing vegetation keeping the grapes more shaded than by traditional methods. East to west orientation was considered much better because the afternoon sun in Spain, the hottest time of day, could be mitigated by this overhanging growth on the `leaning´ side.

Studies comparing Tempranillo and Bobal had been carried out. Tempranillo is the workhorse grape of Spain, but , as its name suggests it matures early. This brings huge problems for wine-makers. Bobal on the other hand stands up to the sun and even in unwatered ground will see-off most hot summers!


The effects of watering in both varieties was quite different. Whilst watering Tempranillo ( cautiously and to the minimum necessary) increased the production, it did nothing to improve the sugar levels. In stark contrast unwatered Bobal maintained a higher level of natural sugars.

Inclining the vines and water had an effect on the Tempranillo but did not improve the sugar levels in the Bobal.

And then, the third aspect was delaying the `poda en verde´or green pruning where the vines have a spring pruning of excessive growth and indeed putative bunches. Once again this seemed to have a more beneficial effect in the Tempranillo than the Bobal.

So it seems that there are new concepts to combat climate change, but individual varieties need separate consideration.

After Almuerzo we moved to the second session.

This was on Spanish wines in a globalised market. Led by Roberto Garcia of Grupo Cajamar this was a study into production  and exportation of Spanish wines.


Now we were into a session where statistics and charts were challenging my speed of Spanish comprehension…!

Essentially we were looking at a loss of 40% in vineyards planted but an increase in wine production. Of course there have been several changes or improvements in production already.

Key elements in this session were the reduction per capita of wine consumption in the countries which produce most wine, Spain, Italy etc, as opposed to a rise in consumption in non-producing countries.

This rise in wine consumption overall could easily be put down to the production of lower alcohol sparkling wines to compete with Prosecco from Italy ( the only reason their wine exports are up) and Lambrusco for example. Several Valencian bodegas have already introduced these sparkling wines.

However it would be wrong to ignore other trends…such as a huge increase in sales through on-line sites and wine in other products such as ice-cream. Wine tourism is also playing its part.

Whatever the reasons,  bulk sales of wine are maintaining a lead over bottled wines from Spain, by 54%-37%. In fact Spain effectively exports  double the amount of wine consumed within the country.

However if these sessions had been interesting everything was about to be put into context by the final session, led by Rafael del Rey, Managing Director of the Observatorio Español del Mercado del Vino.

Support from Cajamar

Support from Cajamar

The charts of statistics flowed rapidly but two conclusions were easy to draw from all the information presented.

Two simple concepts, one simple answer.

With high production of wine prices fall in the export market. Wine which is unsold then has to be converted to pure alcohol at Government expense, or at least with a subsidy.

By contrast, low production of wine produces scarcityand  prices rise. Taken together this can mean Spanish wine prices rise and fall by up to 50%  year on year! This is hardly a recipe for succesful international marketing!

Moreover Spanish wine does not enjoy  an International following. Take that together with a fall in home consumption and it could be toxic for the industry as a whole.



This was where the two previous sessions  started to be of real value and threads could be pulled together.

It seemed to us the key element is  that Spain needs to even out wine production first and improve quality with it. A reduction in over-production and an increase in quality production should help to even prices out , year on year. With prices swinging  currently by 50% yearly in bulk wine but by only 10% in bottled wine it is the bulk wine area that needs the greater reform whilst the latter needs to improve its sales volumes.

This should mean that bulk wine remains competitive ( selling less but at a better price)  whilst bottled wine improves its market position.

The other key element to emerge came from a question asked by Alvaro Faubel of Dominio de la Vega.

Lunch with many Cosecheros

Lunch with many Cosecheros

Spain currently has a wine exporting agency, ICEX, or Wines from Spain. All the DO´s are members but they all compete against each other for sales. France has its historical reputation, then secondly its regional sub-tiers. Maybe Spain now needs to understand the Wines from Spain challenge, with all the DO´s working together to produce a national brand, with the DO´s taking second place.

The reality is that  France  remains the International benchmark for quality wines and varietal characteristics. French wine  sells on the `French´ overarching title and then by regional varieties.

Selection of DO wines for official occasions

Selection of DO wines for official occasions

But, the rest of the world frankly buys wines by variety, Wines which meet the new demands from the consumer and  which are concentrated, showing  varietal characteristics and fruit!

All of this should help Valencian wines from whichever DO or IGP improve their exports, if taken together with a reduction in production in exchange for better quality.

This was a challenging day, not all the participants `bought the solutions being offered.´ But it was another day when the DO has invited growers, producers and bodegas together in a highly relevant and challenging environment.


Lunch as always followed in Garzarán, the local  restaurant serving traditional food.

VÍ vid thoroughly enjoyed  and learned from these sessions as well as participating in the discussions on the concepts over lunch with individual producers and growers.

Thank you to Jose Miguel Medina, President of the D.O., for inviting us. We really value sessions such as this as do the members of the D.O.!

VÍ vid. Happy with the training!

VÍ vid. Happy with the training!













White Rioja´s – Artisan Valencian Cheeses. A Perfect Match?

White rioja 5Organised by Calduch Communications of Madrid, Valencia´s specialist wine and food press enjoyed a tutored tasting last Tuesday in the Marisqueria Casa Vicent.

VÍ vid were amongst this special group invited to participate in a direct pairing of seven white wines from D.O. Rioja, some oaked, some without, and seven cheeses from amongst the best producers in the Valencian Community, from Castellon in the North to Alicante in the South and Utiel in the interior.

The venue, Marisqueria Casa Vicent,  is one of Valencia´s best known and traditional restaurants specialising in fresh seafood and can be found on Avenida Peris y Valero.

White rioja 10

Pairing white wine and cheese is a well-known practice, Sauvignon Blanc with light sheeps or goats cheeses for example can work well. The principle guideline is to look at the rind and the texture of the cheese. The harder they get they are more likely to take a lightly oaked wine, but the wine has to be able to stand up to acidity, nutty flavours or chalkiness in texture, all of which can kill wine instantly.

And for me there is a cultural difference. The Spanish eat cheese rather more as one of a number of  starters or tapas than we English, who enjoy a plate of cheese in the French style either before or after the dessert at the end of a meal by which time red wines are on the table!

Red wine with cheese  ( with some notable exceptions) is generally considered a non-starter…the old wine trade maxim states `Buy on bread, sell on cheese´, which essentially means the trade buy  wine to retail later cleaning their palate as they go with bread but when they want you to buy it out comes the cheese….because it softens the tannins in the wine, making it more pleasant to drink!

Manchuela and White Rioja 003

Matching the wines with the cheeses was in the hands of Guillermina Sanchéz, a noted sumiller who has a wide-ranging expertise in just this subject.

DO Rioja produces a wide array of wines, both red and white and some of the greatest oaked whites with ageing potential are produced in this part of Spain. Principal varieties are Viura ( Macabeo ) Tempranillo Blanco, Verdejo and Maturana. All the wines we were to taste were  either single varietal wines or blends of these varieties.

Guillerma Sanchéz

Guillermina Sanchéz

The cheeses of Valencia, or at least the artisan ones, are very traditional in shape and also controlled by a DO. Castellon was represented by Tot de Poblet, from Les Coves de Vinroma, Los Corrales from Almedijar: the interior of Valencia by the Camporrobles firm Quesos La Sabina and Quesos le Heretat from Quatretonda, whilst Alicante was represented by Quesos Artesanos La Loma from Elche. These are all companies whose cheeses are to be found at gastronomic fairs and whose names come up regularly at Cheese fairs with winning cheeses in different categories.

Although you might never know it if you simply buy your cheese ready sliced in supermarkets they also come in traditional shapes such as Tronchon, Servilleta and Casoleta being just three of them. They may be pure sheep or goat, a blend of both, from raw milk or semi-pasteurised, fresh, mature ,soft or hard. There is a bigger variety than many people appreciate!

So, the 24 or so participants, from the mainstream press , radio, TV, writers, bloggers and wine distributors sat down to taste the pairings.

We started with Conde de Valdemar, 2014 from Oyón in the  Álava. This was a blend of 85% Viura with Verdejo. This was matched with Queso Picarcho of La Sabina, from raw goats milk. It was soft and creamy with a damp rind.

The wine was pale and fresh, initially closed on the nose until the Verdejo emerged. This was reasonably ripe in the mouth but lacked a bit of acidity. The cheese was creamy with a hint of mushroom but was just too much for the wine.




Second wine was Nivarus 2013, 55%abv Tempranillo and 45% Viura. A little deeper in colour it had had six months in large oak barricas in contact with the lees. Hints of oak over tropical fruit on the nose, nice acidity in the mouth, good fruit and vanilla from the oak and some minerality in the finish.

The cheese this time was the Le Heretat de Pere, a little harder, still with a soft rind. It was a little fuller in flavour, a touch saltier and had a better finish This pairing matched well and this wine also went well with the previous cheese.

Third pairing was the Ijalba Maturana Blanco 2014 unique in being the only wine made with this variety. It was paired with the Servilleta from La Sabina. The wine, from near Logroño was bottled in March this year.

A similar colour to the last wine, it needed more time in bottle but had good acidity , a long finish and was round and deep.

The cheese is pasteurised goats milk, a little stronger in flavour again than the second, the pairing worked well but the general impression was that it worked best with the second cheese.

Some of the Specialist Press

Some of the Specialist Press

Gomez Cruzado  2014 is 85% Viura with 15% Tempranillo Blanco. After vinification there is a short crianza ( 5 months) in oak for half the wine, the rest remaining in concrete deposit. Subtle on the nose, this was matched in the mouth where the combination of oak and fresh wine produced something complex and really rather enjoyable.

The Extramuros cheese from Los Corrales was from raw sheeps milk, quite hard. This had a marked saltiness on the tongue and a hint of bitterness. An excellent match.

Eva Máñez

The fifth pairing placed Campillo Fermentado en Barrica 2014 ( 100% Viura) from Laguardia with a Tronchon from Los Corrales. The wine was paler than its fermentation in oak might have suggested, especially given that it had another six weeks of battonage with the lees.

The cheese is a raw sheeps cheese now with longer maturity and harder rind. Nutty and firm in the mouth, it matched very well with the subtle oak and vanilla of a very well-balanced wine!

The penultimate wine was Sonsierra Fermentado en Barrica 2013, 100% Viura. It was paired with Queso Dama, from Elche. Again from raw sheeps milk, it is a cheese rich in lactic acid and with a soft rind. Clean and fresh the wine was elegant, subtle, in the mouth it was very well balanced. One of the top wines of the tasting.

The cheese had a mushroom, earthy elegance, not too salty, creamy and this was probably the best pairing of the day!

Bertrand `Solo Queso´ with VÍ vid

Bertrand `Solo Queso´ with VÍ vid

Onomástica Reserva 2011 , a 100% Viura from Haro with two years in oak and occasional battonage  is a classic old style Rioja, or so it seemed to me. Golden in colour, rich, ripe and fruity on the nose, with honey in depth over tropical fruit.

In the mouth the oak was unmissable, subtle , cream lacteos, long , very elegant…. a vinazo!!!

The cheese had a degree of subtlety about it as well, matched with truffle on the nose a long finish of its own…but it worked well with the wine as well. Another favourite matching in some quarters!

A light lunch of Jamon , Valencian tomatos in oil with black olives, foie with three marmalades and clotxinas followed.



This was one of the most interesting and successful specialist tastings we had attended this year. There is no question that good white wines from Rioja and Valencian cheeses match  well, However , if there is one unanswered question it has to be `How do the Valencian cheeses match with wines from Valencia´. VÍ vid could immediately think of an oaked Macabeo, a Viognier, a Gewürztraminer and some Chardonnay based wines with short oak crianzas that would fit the bill…..a tasting to think about!

Special thanks go to Guillermina for an excellent session and to Bertrand of Solo Queso for his advice on the cheeses.  And yes, balance of opinion says it was a perfect match!

White rioja Vivid








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