Category Archives: Wine

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.

Nirvarius

Nivarius

 

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.

Foie

Foie

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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Matching Wine and Cava With Chocolate – A VÍ vid Workshop for Proava.


ProavaCataPoster

Wine and Chocolate? Can you really pair them together? Well, it is not a new concept but it still raises eyebrows. Around the world there have been some highly successful pairings such as Boal from Madeira, Zinfandel from California, Australian Liqueur Muscat’s. Asti Spumante from Italy works with light chocolate mousses.

Here in Valencia we knew of Bodega´s who have found that their red wines were also successfully paired, indeed the pre-requisite for a successful pairing is to start with a big, red wine!

We were asked to extend this and try chocolate in pairings with white wine and cavas as well.

First, the Bodega. To be successful we believed the wines needed to have sufficient body and quality and having recently attended the launch of their new range of wines could see potential in  the wines of Dominio de la Vega (  http://wp.me/p16pqB-JJ ) . Winemaker Dani Exposito has long had a reputation for making wines which express the best characteristics of the variety and the soils his vines are grown on.

Dominio de la Vega

Second the chocolatiers. Who better than the Sueca company,  Chocolate Artesano Comes? They have, after all been making artisan chocolate since 1870 and run a museum where you can see all the paraphernalia needed to make chocolate, observe their production process and best of all try their range!

Comes

For this tasting we decided to match the following wines and chocolates:-

Recuerdame 2014 Blanco Seco ( Sauvignon Blanc 80%, Chardonnay 15%  and Macabeo 5%, ).

Gotas de Chocolate con Leche.

Paraje Tornel 2012, 100% Bobal with 12 months oak ageing.

Chocolate Puro 70%.

DO Cava Brut Nature, 100% Macabeo, 14 months `en rima´.

Chocolate a la Piedra.

DO Cava Brut Reserva Especial ( 70% Macabeo, 30% Chardonnay) 22 months `en rima´.

Chocolate Picante.

Arte Mayor, DO Cava,60% Macabeo, 40% Chardonnay 36 months `en rima´.

Cacao Puro.

Choc Tasting 1

1. Recuerdame. Golden colour, clean and bright. On the nose it is intensely floral, concentrated, with elderflower. This is the Sauvignon Blanc asserting itself (the fruit is tropical, passion fruit, apricot), and then as it opens up the banana and pineapple from the Chardonnay emerge.

In the mouth, initially light, well-integrated fruit, alcohol and acidity, perfectly balanced with a long finish. Very good with creamy fish dishes.

This matched well with the creamy chocolate. Neither wine nor chocolate dominated the palate.

Recuerdame

2.Paraje Tornel.

12 months in new French oak barrels, plus a minimum  of 12 months in bottle. Cardinal garnet red. Initially, on the nose, we find tertiary aromas from the oak ageing, toast, spices, coffee, cocoas,and mineral notes of the soil. Elegant, ripe red fruit such as plums, blackberries and red currants.

Full on entry, with silky and smooth tannins, an elegant acidity that adds vibrancy and balance to the whole. Match with all types of grilled or braised red meat and fermented raw milk cheeses. With dark Comes chocolate….it is `Caprice de Dieux´…

Probably the easiest to match. 70% pure chocolate matches well with the fruit, tertiary notes and the smooth tannins in this wine.

3. DO Cava Brut Nature.

At first sight has a yellow colour with fine bubbles.On the nose aromas of citrus and green apple with long-lasting floral notes , hints of bakery and pastry aromas. In the mouth expressive, dry on entry, balanced between the wine and the bubbles,  and a fat finish. Best pairing with seafood, fish, salads, spicy dishes, and also all kinds of appetizers.

Paired with the Chocolate a la Piedra, a traditional textured chocolate. We also tried this with the milk chocolate. Both worked suggesting that this wine might also match some desserts.

Choctasting2

4. DO Cava Brut Reserva Especial.

20 % of the base wine spends 3 months in French oak barrels, and 22 months on the lees. At first sight it is bright golden-yellow colour with fine bubbles. On the nose, it shows complex aromas, ripe fruit (baked apple and apricot), white flowers and pastries and also vanilla.
In the mouth, very creamy with toasty notes, lively acidity and long elegant finish. Perfect match with spicy dishes, Asian food, white meat and chocolates as Comes Chocolate Picante.

In fact this was the ideal match, the best of the night. The piquancy and heat of the chilli in the chocolate was noticed only after it was swallowed where it `lit up´in the throat! With the depth of the wine matching it perfectly all present considered this a `marriage made in heaven!´

Choctasting3

5 Arte Mayor.

It is made by blending  two harvests together to obtain a base wine with complexity, volume and personality. The 2009/2010 is a bright golden-yellow colour with  fine and persistent bubbles. On the nose, it has an intense, complex bouquet, mineral aromas (chalk), hints of baked apple and vanilla. There are also notes of patisserie (custard), and a subtly smoky backdrop . On the palate it is velvety, unctuous and intense, creamy, full-bodied, with a good structure and a long finish. Pairing: cheese, cold cuts and today we are going to match it with a special chocolate from C. Comes.

This was paired with the pure cacao. In fact this was perhaps too bitter with hindsight but both the Picante and Pure chocolates worked perfectly.

VÍ vid lead the tasting.

VÍ vid lead the tasting.

This experimental workshop was a huge success with lots of participation and expression of opinions in English! If anyone has any doubts we urge you to try it for yourself with an open mind – many were surprised how well the pairing worked in this workshop, part of Proava´s summer `Come y Bebe´ programme.

Proava Valencia
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A Visit to Bodega Primitivo Quiles….Alicante´s Wine Story Starts Here!


Wines from Primitivo Quiles

Wines from Primitivo Quiles

Alicante´s oldest bodega, Primitivo Quiles, is to be found in the village of Monóvar. The family which owns it started their relationship with wine in 1780. Historically of course Alicante´s wine making traditions go back much, much further, some 2000+ years to the Iberian period, as is the case with much of the Valencian Community. However whilst the tradition may be long as with much else in life it has been subject to devastating events. Pre-phylloxera wines from Alicante were exported in bulk, but the most famous of them , Fondillon, went to the tables of royalty and the upper classes. There is no shortage of historical proof for this. Elizabeth 1st  of England `loved Alacant wine above all others´, her successor James 1st described his urine as being as `red as Alicante wine´  and Louis the 14th approaching the end of his life after a long illness called for Fondillon with sponge cakes. There is no evidence that pre-phylloxera, Alicante produced just Fondillon wines. It is more likely that wine-making was a community affair with wines being transported to Alicante for Export.

Oal Barrels for Fondillon.

Oal Barrels for Fondillon.

When Phylloxera hit France wines from Alicante, as well as Requena and Castellon were all exported to Bordeaux to help bulk up the wines of the region. But this did mean that old, aged wines were not produced to the same level that they had been. When phylloxera finally arrived in Alicante the bodegas were not capable of reacting fast enough and wine-making almost died out. Exports from Alicante fell by half in a single year. Fast forward a little, and with phylloxera gone, thought was being given to replanting the vineyards. However the Industrial revolution in Spain arrived, somewhat later than other parts of Europe, and those who might have worked in the vineyards or indeed owned them were tempted instead by the textile industry which was opening up nearby. Primitivo Quiles played a big part in the revival and production of this legendary wine and wine growing as a whole!

Abuelo Barrica 1892

Abuelo Barrica 1892

Despite the bad state of the economy Primitivo Quiles carried on with their traditional winemaking, even managing to preserve Fondillon throughout the whole period. In 1951 another Primitivo Quiles, this time the grandson joined the family consolidating production and setting the bodega on its course to the modern-day. By the 1970´s this had led to the introduction of new wines, expanding the range. The family originated in the hamlet of Raspay, near to El Pinoso where the family vineyards were. Today those vineyards are still used to produce the wines from the bodega although they have changed hands many times with death and inheritance.

 Rosado, Raspay, Blanco Caña and Tinto Coño.

Rosado, Raspay, Blanco Caña and Tinto Cono.

Monovar was chosen for the location of the bodega because it is near to the railway network which made transport so much easier. The vineyards are mainly old plots of Monastrell, up to 80 years old which produce low yields but high quality grapes. Monastrell traditionally is believed to have been imported to Castellon first ( Camp de Morvedre) from Greece and in France is known as Mourvedre. The wines are bright red, capable of long ageing which of course makes them ideal for Fondillon.

Tinto Roble

Tinto Roble

Fondillon is a rancio style of wine. The naturally fermented wines from over-ripe grapes are placed in large oak barrels where they are typically aged for a minimum of 10 years but usually much, much longer. Unlike Port and sherry which are fortified, no raw alcohol is added to the wine which reaches 16+% ABV naturally. Over time, the wine oxidises becoming rich and complex, and of course changing colour. The wines can be subjected to a solera system but at Primitivo Quiles wines from different vintages are blended with the barrels being refilled and left to age peacefully. The smallest amount of wine necessary is drawn each time a bottling takes place. The bodega still possesses two of the original barrels from 1892 but only one now has Fondillon in it. The other was filled with Moscatel in a year when there was insufficient wine to fill two barricas with Monastrell, thus starting the Gran Imperial wine we were to taste later. The old bodega is difficult to navigate and the day we visited wines were being pumped through long pipes. We were very lucky therefore to be given such a definitive and comprehensive tour!

Vine on the Terrace

Vine on the Terrace

Emerging into the sunlight and the  terrace we were about to be given an equally impressive tasting of the bodega´s products. First up was Blanco Caña 2014, a white from 100% Airen at 12%ABV. Pale yellow, very clean and bright with golden flashes, it was typical of the variety in that the nose is not very expressive, maybe a little citrus. In the mouth that converts to  fresh grapefruit juice acidity, a very nice fresh, easy drinking white wine! The 100% Monastrell Rosado Virgen 2014 is very popular in the United States. A fresh and bright strawberry pink with long legs this wine shows no move towards the fashion for French style pale wines! On the nose it is lightly floral with a hint of wild fennel. In the mouth it is very fresh, light , with good acidity to balance the fruit and a good, long finish. An excellent summer wine! ( 12.5%ABV) The Tinto Cono Nº 4 is also 100% Monastrell at 14.5%ABV. This time a red wine, it takes its name from the deposit in which the best barrels of Monastrell are blended. A nice fresh medium bodied wine it is cherry/ruby red with glycerinous long legs. On the nose it is a very traditional fresh Alicante style with morello cherry fruit. In the mouth it is initially smooth on entry with a hint of astringency but a long satisfying finish. The 2008 Raspay Reserva at 14%ABV has spent two years in old oak barrels. It has a distinctive red and yellow ribbon which replaced a blue and white one after a visit to Alicante from the then King in 1977 who reportedly liked the wine very much. A medium bodied garnet colour, reflecting the ageing process, it too has long glycerinous legs.

Writing Tasting Notes!

Writing Tasting Notes!

On the nose you note the oak ageing and tobacco leaf. In the mouth it is dry, but full , complex balsamic notes mixing with tobacco flavours and a long satisfying finish A wine to accompany good, rich food. Next we moved to the bodega´s more specialist products. We started with the Gran Reserva Fondillon 1948 at 16% ABV. This was drawn in 2000 and comes from a run of just 3000 bottles. Tawny in colour with a bright orange edge, it has long slow legs. On the nose it is rich and complex, raisins, nuts, toasty nuances with figs and honey. In the mouth, satisfying, complex, rich, smooth and complex it is an aperitif worthy of a good meal afterwards! The Moscatel Extra Vino de Licor at 15% is not a normal golden mistela. This is a nutty brown colour, with a tawny edge and gold flashes reflecting its barrel ageing. On the nose rich, ripe peach and apricot overlaid with caramel. In the mouth it is deep, complex, raisins, rich …quite fabulous!

Vermut

Vermut

The Bodega´s Vermut has been made for years, it is a style of aperitif very much back in favour in Spain currently. Deep tawny in colour, with long legs, it is fresh on the nose, with bitter herbs but in the mouth was fresh and almost slightly sweet. Finally we tried the 2003  Gran Imperial Moscatel, a vino generoso. This was drawn in 2013 and is from a run of just 182 bottles! A deep dark dense brown, almost liquorice in colour, it has old toffee and tobacco leaf in a complex rich nose. This is matched in the mouth! Intense, a completely different style of wine… a few drops on vanilla ice-cream would be perfect!

VÍ vid,  a comprehensive tasting,

VÍ vid, a comprehensive tasting,

This was a fascinating and highly educational visit by VÍ vid to a historic bodega carrying on a much longer historical tradition with wines of the highest quality. It also reflects the regional variety which makes wines from Alicante worth investigating and tasting against their cousins from the other provinces of Valencia. A truly unforgettable visit!

Bodegas Murviedro, Support for Regional Varieties…New Wines from Bobal!


MurviedroBobal15Bodegas Murviedro is one Valencia´s oldest having been formed by Swiss giants Schenk as their Spanish `partner´in 1927. Like many of the older bodegas it started off as an exporter of wines in bulk with its bodega in Valencia´s Grau district near the port.

With the redevelopment of Valencia this area lost a lot of its importance and  the bodegas fed with wine transported by railways before despatch on ships were largely demolished.

Schenk moved the bodega to the Requena area and today ( as Murviedro) has one of the largest and most modern bodegas ( dating to 1997) on the edge of the town, next door to UVÉ, the cava producer.

It has produced quality , if commercial, wines from Alicante, Utiel-Requena, Valencia as well as Rioja, Rias Baixas, Rueda and Tierra de Castilla . They also produce Cavas. They have produced several ranges of wines including the more modern `Frizzantes´ such as Estrella, with lower alcohol levels . Whatever the range the company philosophy is based on producing modern quality wines based on the use of the best quality grapes from the centre and South West of Spain.

In the Kitchen `Lab´

In the Kitchen `Lab´

The most advanced  vinification techniques are used including identifying the most appropriate yeasts for fermentation as these can make a big difference to the wine produced. Regular investment in new technologies and anything else that adds value to the finished product is a key element of their philosophy.

Nor does the bodega specialise in promoting the Noble varieties although  these are best known internationally, export being a major part of its business still – to no less than 50 different countries. Murviedro produces wines from the regional varieties, Monastrell in Alicante, Moscatel in Valencia, Bobal and Planta Nova in Utiel-Requena and Verdejo and Albariño although these may be blended in some products with the better known varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo.

This philosophy has been developing under Diego Talavera and Javier Solano who took over the helm from Pablo Ossorio.

Eva Máñez

And, so it was that we found ourselves at a presentation on Monday of a new collection of wines and a Cava so that the company could generate interest in a range of wines which demonstrate well the increased support for Utiel-Requena´s finest variety, Bobal. The launch took place to the specialist press and later to the restaurant trade and distributors etc.

The venue for this modern organisation was an equally modern restaurant, the Ricard Camarena Lab, where the innovative Michelin starred chef who has a number of outlets in Valencia, develops his ideas and undertakes demonstrations ( show-cooking).

Murviedro, Marq and La Viña June2015 001

The wines were to accompany  such a demonstration with  aperitifs and a light lunch.

Diego Talavera introduced the launch explaining the philosophy was to support the regional varieties as increased knowledge of this part of Spain was accompanied by wider recognition that these varieties produce increasingly better wines and are becoming more sought after.

Diego Talavera.

Diego Talavera.

The Bodega has set out to create a range of wines which exemplify the visual aspects, aromatic scents and flavours of Bobal. Ricard Camarena exemplifies the quality of traditional local produce married with modern techniques .

Ricard Camarena

Ricard Camarena

We commenced with an aperitif of Verdejo, a 2014 wine from the Murviedro Colección range with grapes grown in the Tierra de Castilla. It is a pale yellow wine with a fresh aromatic nose, demonstrating lots of rich tropical fruit and white flowers. In the mouth the balancing acidity is excellent, this is a very pleasant white wine, perfect with seafood, fish and rice dishes. It was served with `Cornete de ensaladilla Ricard Camarena´.

Next was a `Pastisset de boniato i foie´which accompanied theMurviedro Colección Roble Bobal. This young 2014 wine is from old vines, has undergone a long maceration at low temperature and after fermentation spent a short crianza of between 3-4 months in second use French oak. An intense young red colour with bright red tones, The nose is powerful and complex with fruits of the forest and floral hints. In the mouth it is fresh, quite fat, with round tannins and a long finish. For me it needs a little longer in bottle.

New Wines at the launch

New Wines at the launch

The lunch began with one of Ricard Camareno´s signature dishes `Capuccino de tomates asados y queso de Almedijar´. This dish, essentially a mousse of roasted tomato over a goats cheese base accompanied the young Vox Populi a Bobal from 2012. Once again from low producing older vines, the wine undergoes maceration, fermentation and Murviedro´s unique system for pumping over. The wine undergoes its second fermentation before spending six months in new French and American oak barrels and then 8 months more in bottle. Deep black cherry with hints of terracotta at the edge, good legs ( 13%ABV) .

Capuccino.

Capuccino.

On the nose complex and deep and showing typical  characteristics of the variety, red fruit, balsamic notes, toffee, vanilla. In the mouth it is fat, meaty, with rounded tannins and a long finish. Aimed very much at the export market this a modern style Bobal, very nice!

The `Canelon de calabacin y bogavente con kimchi y ajo negro´ was a perfect entry dish, full of complex flavours but none of the freshness of the lobster was lost. To match this another Bobal , the Murviedro Colección Reserva Bobal from 2011. Made in much the same way but with 12 months in French oak and another twelve in bottle. This is also a deep black cherry but with  a more marked terracotta edge. The red fruits in this wine are matched on the nose with an oaky base, and menthol, chocolate and toffee. In the mouth, silky, round tannins, smooth and a long finish.

Canélon

Canélon

The last red accompanied  `Pieza de ternera a la provenzal con verduras de temporada´. A spicy piece of shoulder of beef that melted in the mouth! The `Cepas Viejas´Bobal is from 2012. It  has eight months in French and American oak and then another eight in bottle. In the same presentation as the Vox Populi, ( an old style squat Bordeaux bottle) it is an intense black cherry colour. It too has notes of toffee and vanilla on the nose and in the mouth is concentrated, a serious wine!

Ternera

Ternera

Finally a DO Cava, `Àrts de Luna´ is a pure Chardonnay in the Brut style. It spends just 12 months in contact with the lees but it seemed longer to me. Pale to medium gold with a dense mousse, fine bubbles. on the nose patisserie, and white fruit, concentrated. In the mouth the bubbles are well-integrated, it is concentrated with fresh acidity but well-balanced. Very nice!!!

This was served with ` Espectacular plátano helado´, none of which is what it seems…a trampantojo!

Murviedro, Marq and La Viña June2015 024

This was an inspired launch using a modern chef with a modern bodega, matching traditional varieties and food but also made in a modern style in a modern and innovative location! For Murviedro it was the launch of several excellent wines, all of them good price to quality ratio which can only enhance their range in a major way…long may this drive to promote quality wines from traditional varieties continue. These are wines I will happily drink,  share with  guests and would like to share in tastings!

Murviedro, Marq and La Viña June2015 017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bodegas Baron D´Alba – In search of the Perfect Soils.


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Back in December 2013 we visited the Les Useres ( Castellon) bodega owned by Sergio Garrido as part of an educational trip looking at new wines and  wines developing  in deposit and cask. This is an important part of our work in giving wine tastings because we are often asked technical questions about wine-making methods in the Valencian Community. The reality is there are many twists in wine making where enologists have their own personal ideas and practices to obtain the best results from the material the vine-grower provides them at harvest time.

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Of course any wine-maker will have commenced his work long before the harvest, ensuring the vines are not being stressed by asking them to produce too much. Pruning at the post flowering stage and removal of unwanted shoots ( poda en verde) is one of the first issues to be dealt with at the end of Spring. At Clos  D´esgarracordes the soils have always been important. Wine maker Mario Malafosse who has been there for four years working with Sergio Garrido, makes the soils his number one priority. On VÍ vid´s follow-up visit yesterday ( at which we were once again to taste the new and developing wines)  we started with a walk into the vineyards to look at the flowering taking place in the Cabernet Sauvignon variety.

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Cabernet Sauvignon, flowering.

From here we went on to look at the Merlot where `poda en verde´ was taking place, the two arms of the vines were being stripped of the excessive growth as were shoots coming from the base of the vines. This involves removing some of the putative bunches so that the vines do not produce more than around 1.5-2kg each of grapes.

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Buds on the Merlot.

Here, Mario has been experimenting with green manure to feed the roots of the vines and improve the soil. Soil  is a priority for both Sergio and Mario. The former has always wanted his wines to express the land      ( or  terroir) from which they come ( a mixture of sand and stone.) For Mario it has been his major study as an enologist.

Experimental area with wood chippings.

Experimental area with wood chippings.

Currently they are experimenting with different ground cover such as growing broad beans down the middle of the rows of vines. These fix a lot of nutrient into the soils, enriching them and subsequently benefiting the vines. They also protect the soils from the direct sunlight. But they have also experimented with sawdust and wood chippings packed around the base of the vines to act as a mulch and keep moisture in. Certainly the vines receiving this treatment had a much more humid soil.

Sergio Garrido demonstarting Pode en Verde.

Sergio Garrido demonstrating Poda en Verde.

Nor could you help but notice that the soil had a lot of spores growing in it, a sure sign that it was alive with nutrients. Not that any wood will do of course, pine for example does not work because of the resins it holds! We returned to the bodega and commenced our tastings from the deposits and barrels. Starting with the 2014 Rosado, still to be filtered but ready for bottling this is a blend of Monastrell, Garnacha and Syrah. Sergio and Mario are  trying to produce a rosado which gives a nod to the fashion for paler wines without losing the essence of Valencian Rosados. Although a paler salmon than in the past it  retains a brilliance in the glass. Moreover this is not a wine from free run juice , the press is used after a two-hour maceration to ensure that the characteristics of the soils come through from the skins. This will be a fresh , raspberry fruit wine with a natural sweetness balanced with a good acidity and a long dry mineral, even salty, finish. The best rosado we have tried from this bodega!

2014 Gewurztraminer.

2014 Gewurztraminer.

Second was  the 2014 Macabeo/Viognier blend which will make the new `Clos´wine. Both varieties have a short crianza in oak to enrich the wines, with battonage once a week.Second usage oak tends to impart less oak flavours into the wine , rather giving them a fuller body. This wine has it with lovely depth of fruit and balancing acidity. A wine to watch out for on release! The bodega´s Gewürztraminer has been much-lauded since its release last year and is a best seller at winefairs. This 2014 is the most expressive so far although sadly there will only be about 400 bottles because of last years drought. The 2014 is the most expressive yet, the fruitiest , richest and most spicy with a finish that never stops developing!

Sergio Garrido with VÍ vid.

Sergio Garrido with VÍ vid.

Moving to the reds, `Pelegri ´ is the bodega´s top wine in the `Collection´ series.In 2011 the wine was a French style Cabernet Sauvignon, full of green and black pepper and an excellent wine. But, Pelegri will be made from the variety which performs the best each year and in 2012 that was the Syrah. In 2013 it will be the Merlot.

Pelegri 2012, Syrah

Pelegri 2012, Syrah

We tasted both, the Syrah from deposit where, having been stabilised  it awaits bottling and the Merlot from barrel where it has spent its first year in wood. The Syrah is a bright chery colour, the wine painting the glass. On the nose it is very expressive with tobacco, chocolate, pepper, plum and fruits of the forest. In the mouth the tannins are smooth and the the wine powerful This will be a worthy successor to the Cabernet! The 2013 Merlot is a plum colour, youthful and still has more time in barrel to come. There is a lot of jammy fruit, black pepper, but at the moment it is quite tannic. Huge potential this wine. We look forward to tasting from barrel or  from deposit next year before bottling!

Marian, Juanjo and wine-maker Mario in the bodega.

Marian, Juanjo and wine-maker Mario in the bodega.

Finally we tried the  Monastrell 2013 which is fresh, fruity and aromatic with big hints of violet in a floral nose. Over lunch, which consisted of a local paella with rib of pork, rabbit and chicken with vegetables we continued our talks and discussed a range of issues.

We were given one final surprise! Sergio and Mario have been experimenting with a sparkling wine to add to the range. Castellon is outside DO Cava so although it will be made by the traditional method it will be an `espumoso´. We tried a bottle to finish off the meal and it showed great promise with a year,  so far, in bottle on the lees.

We are very pleased to have this bodega as an associate and to be able to promote their wines in future tastings. we look forward to a long continuing relationship with them, a bodega whose owner and winemaker have a clear idea of their style and want to ensure the future improvement of the vineyards and with it the wines!

Paella for Lunch!

Paella for Lunch!

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


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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.

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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.

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valencia´s Clotxinas are back in Season!


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Following the launch of the Clotxina last week, Valencia´s regional  variety of the bivalve has been widely available in the markets and fish shops as well as the plate to eat in Valencia´s restaurants.

The Mediterranean mussel, Mytilus Galloprovincialis, is incredibly popular here being generally accepted as the superior version of the family. Its concentrated flavour makes it good not just for eating in the traditional manner ( al vapor ) but is added to seafood paellas.

Boramar

Boramar

Each year at the beginning of the season the `Agrupación  de Clochineros de Valencia y Sagunto´ hold a presentation (or launch)  of the variety. This is held on the catamaran `Boramar´ in the harbour of Valencia´s port. It is attended not just by the press but enjoys support at Government level and the Autonomous Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Water, Alfredo González Prieto was present to add official  presence to the event. The brief opening ceremony commenced as soon as the dignitaries arrived on board for the formal welcome by Chema Ferrer, MC and  journalist with Las Provincias newspaper as well as the President of the fisherman’s association, Juan Aragonés.

Alfredo Prieto, Chema Ferrer and

Alfredo Prieto, Chema Ferrer and Juan Aragones.

It is followed by a trip around the harbour and this years event, in a strong Spring sunshine with gentle breezes,  was sponsored by Turia Cervezas, one of the local artisan breweries, Bodegas Mustiguillo with its superb fresh dry white wine Mestizaje (from Merseguera, Viognier and Malvasia) and the Valencian firm of Castro and Gonzalez who provided a superb reserve jamon from Iberian pigs fed on acorns, the best!

Jamon Iberico de Bellota, Castro y Gonzalez.

Jamon Iberico de Bellota, Castro y Gonzalez.

The production of the mussel is very traditional , some twenty-two  former barges ( or bateas) being used as a base from which the bi-valves hang in the waters of the outer harbour, where they feed on the fresh, but rich, and salty waters of the mediterranean. The season does not end in September rather this being the start of the agricultural period  with the selection of the baby mussels (or seeds) which are attached to the ropes on which they will grow. Each batea has some 400 ropes which will be heavily laden with mussels by the start of the `cooking season´. It is believed that the mussel will filter some 60 litres of sea water each day and part of the process is to lift the ropes from the water and expose them to the sunlight occasionally. This is one way to kill off some of the many pests which are attracted to mussels whilst they are growing.

 `Batea´ in the outer harbour.

`Batea´ in the outer harbour.

Apart from the superb flavour of this variety of the species, one might wonder why it attracts such important support. In fact the Clotxina is a very big part of Valencia´s industry, keeping an incredible 120,000 people in work in  agriculture and tourism as well as countless restaurants during the summer season…it is a variety which is only eaten during the months when there is no `R´ in the month. Nor is the claim that  the quality of this variety is superior  an idle Valencian boast. No less that the University Politecnica discovered they were richer than their atlantic cousins in vitamins, iron, calcium , phosphorous, magnesium, folic acid and omega-3! At about 60 calories per 100gm they are a healthy non-fattening option on the menus of Valencian Restaurants and homes.

Mestizaje Blanco, merseguera,

Mestizaje Blanco, merseguera,

The production is traditional, at least as far back as the 19th century. The anchored bateas have been covered to provide shelter from the sun for those working aboard and are owned by families who have been involved in the industry for generations and whose shops are still to be found in the Cabanyal and Grau districts of Valencias port district. Queues are not unusual at weekends as Valencian families will make their pilgrimage to their favourite outlets.

Cruise Ships in the Harbour.

Cruise Ships in the Harbour.

And when they get them home what do they do with them? Nothing for 2-3 days! They are best left in the fridge covered with a towel in a box .

Then they will be cooked in the following manner, `Al Vapor´.

Turia Mazen, Artisan Beer.

Turia Mazen, Artisan Beer.

Taking about 250gm per head, you will also need ground black pepper, a bay leaf, a lemon and virgin olive oil.

The clotxinas are then washed well under the tap to clear any impurities. Once cleaned they are placed in a terracotta dish, with a dash of olive oil , a pinch of the pepper the bay leaf and the juice of a lemon.

Once they begin to heat through they cook in their own juices and once these have come  to the boil you leave them for a few moments to concentrate and for the last few to open then remove them from the heat.

Serving is very simple. They are placed in bowls with their own juices and decorated with slices of fresh lemon.

Clotxinas `Al Vapor´.

Clotxinas `Al Vapor´.

They are a real joy and at approximately 3.50€ a kilo this season very good value for money. Their rich flavour, meaty texture and the juices can be mopped up with fresh bread!

Once the season is over there is no choice but to eat `mejillones´, or the lesser quality mussels for the rest of the year. Small wonder that during the summer those in the know eat the regional variety!

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…Arise Nodus! Finca El Renegado Undergoes a Re-branding


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In July last year VÍ vid visited Bodegas de Utiel, Finca El Renegado.(  http://wp.me/p16pqB-Ei )  It was the tenth bodega visit of our newly formed `colectivo´and our workload had been steadily building up over the previous year.

The wines from the Bodega were well-known to us and had a good reputation both locally, within Valencia and abroad and we reported on some of the developments in the pipeline.

It was a great pleasure therefore to be invited back on Thursday March 26 for a presentation of that progress, to see the refurbishment of the former tasting suite, offices, new deposits and to find out how the various marketing themes had developed. All of this is ahead of a ( by invitation)  presentation to the hostelry trade and distributors next week in Valencia´s Las Arenas hotel.

 

Marketing Team at Nodus.

Management, Technical. Marketing and Distribution Team at Nodus.

The presentation was to a varied group from the world of communications and marketing, reflecting what a diverse profession it has become with new technology developments. The traditional local ( Levante and Las Provincias) and national  `newspaper´(El Mundo) press, on-line digital weekly reviews ( La Semana Vitivinicola) , marketing specialists, DO Utiel-Requena´s press and communications officer, Radio and TV reporters  and bloggers  had been invited along with specialist niche representatives handling direct promotions through tastings etc such as ourselves.

We started our tour in the old bodega area where we had been told last year that work would start after the harvest concluded to increase the number of deposits the bodega has for the fermentation and storage of wine. From here we inspected the bottling line and it was here we first encountered the new logo…of which more later.

Cabernet Franc in the Vineyards.

Cabernet Franc in the Vineyards.

Then we went on a tour through the vineyards, something we had not been able to do last year…at this time of year the pruned vines, all trained `en espaldera´ stand-out starkly against the red soils which mark out DO Utiel-Requena. `Brotación´, or budding, is still at least a month away but the evidence of the recent heavy rains could easily be seen, the ground heavy with water and with no shortage of white flower topped wild rocket, the regions most prolific  weed and the 9 seater monovolumen had difficulty negotiating the sandy tracks!

Nonetheless under a giant Carrasca tree, a small leafed type of oak, which has great form and shape we enjoyed an aperitif of the bodega´s Cava in the company of Adolfo De las Heras, father and son, as well as the bodega´s marketing team and technical director and talked of the varieties grown and the bodega´s different `trademarks´ in the March sun.

Adolfo De Las Heras, father and son

Adolfo De Las Heras, father and son

When we returned to the nucleus of buildings it was for the more formal presentation.

Although`Nodus´ is the trademark of the bodega´s top wines it has produced other wines under the Los Capellanes and Actum lables. Nonetheless it has been the Nodus name by which the bodega has become best known, not just in Valencia but in its export markets as well. The bodegas´s owners and marketing team had come to recognise this and the first major change is that this will replace ` Bodegas de Utiel, Finca el Renegado´ as the name by which it will become known.

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With it comes a new set of lables with common backgrounds and colour coded Title and Capsules depending on the wine within the bottle. This had been tested, whilst the rebuilding work had been going on,  in wine-fairs at home and overseas and the new artwork etc has generally been received positively.

The other trademarks will continue but their lables will undergo modernisation in the coming months.

The old offices and tasting room which doubled up as an entertainment area complete with barbecue have been modernised and a shop added. Still planned are a new warehouse and barrel storage area and improvements to the casa rural/hotel are still in the planning stages.

The Old Dining Room

The Old Dining Room

The  arrangements which have seen Avensport, from nearby Venta del Moro ( an outdoor pursuits company ) continuing with their usage of the apartments and accommodation have been added to with the provision of specialist catering by `Yantar´ the towns fusion restaurant. They will provide catering for events and almuerzos for bodega visits and tours etc.

On this occasion we were treated to a lunch showing off some of this modern style of catering, starters of mackerel in a creamy sauce served with a pesto, salmon marinated in beetroot juice and lime, ajoarriero, foie in a crunchy mix and venison served in a stew amongst other dishes such as more traditional home-made desserts, ( tarts and flans) .

`Caballa´ with Pesto

`Caballa´ with Pesto

With this we tried the Chardonnay 2014 and the Tinto de Autor 2012 with its four varieties.

It has taken 10 years for the Nodus trademark to reach this level of importance to the Caudete de las Fuentes located bodega with its 200 hectares of vineyards and 300 more of mediterranean forest . Monday will see that launch formally to the hotel trade where the old Nodus and other brands were well-known and received. we have no doubt this progressive step will have been worth the effort, the  wines themselves are not affected by the change of labelling and there is little doubt that in the hands of the current team the quality of wines will only improve.

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VÍ vid has no doubt that we will continue to show them at tastings and look forward to our part in their future promotion!

VÍ vid at Nodus

VÍ vid at Nodus

 

 

 

 

Pedralba Wine Club Reaches its 50th Tasting!!!


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The Pedralba Wine Club was born on 9 June 2010. Following an invitation to give a talk to the Annual  General Meeting of the Pedralba International Society ( SAIP) the previous month. SAIP had been set up by a group of residents of Pedralba in order to aid integration and adjustment to a new life for many newcomers from different parts of Europe.

Following the meeting a number of members asked whether a tasting could be organised to illustrate the talk they had just heard and this was  held in the towns Casa Cultural.

The meeting began with an introduction to tasting techniques but with the comment also that tasting wine is ultimately an enjoyable experience! The tasting that followed was of the following eight wines:-

Torre Oria Blanco 2009 Macabeo, DOUtiel-Requena.

Daniel Belda Blanco Tendencia 2009, Verdil/Moscatel DO Valencia.

Coviñas Enterizo Rosado 2009, Bobal, DO Utiel-Requena.

Daniel Belda Rosat, Merlot 2009 , DO Valencia.

Bodegas Vegamar, Viña America, 2006 Crianza Tempranillo/Syrah DO Valencia.

Dominio de la Vega Bobal Madurado en Barrica 2009 DO Utiel-Requena

La Cartuja Viacoeli Moscatel Mistela, Coop Cheste, DO Valencia

Vi Dolç, Santa Barbara Coop, Casinos DO Valencia.

Three wines stood out at the tasting and members have continued drinking them ever since!

Firstly the Macabeo from Torre Oria which, in 2009 , was a particularly good example of the wine produced from this variety which was full of ripe melon and green apple on the nose and round and full with good acidity in the mouth.

Secondly, the Bobal Madurado en Barrica from Dominio de la Vega, from the 2009 vintage and the only year that it was kept in oak for 6 months. It produced a wine of incredible concentration full of chocolate, smoke, cafe creme, clove, liquorice.

Thirdly the Vi Dolç from the coop at Casinos was a traditional wine aged for a very long period in large oak foudres. The result is a wine that is full of figs, nuts, dried fruits etc that it was described on the day as `liquid xmas cake!´ It is still available today!

Following this tasting a group of friends decided to carry on tasting on a monthly basis if possible.

Members at an earlier Tasting

Members at an earlier Tasting

The second meeting was held in July 2010 on the garden terrace of the President of the Association´s house and as well as a tasting of eight more wines it was followed by a meal, a format for tastings which has carried on until today!

It was also at this meeting that the first wine from DO Alicante was introduced ( Finca Collado Blanco 2009 ) of which more later.

Wines from DO Cava ( Requena) were introduced at the fourth meeting in September 2010 and the first wines from the emerging IGP Castellon were  presented at the seventh meeting in January 2011.

Following this the group has evolved, some of the original members have moved on, or back to the UK, but the group has continued to meet regularly in members houses, enjoying eight wines and a meal and have tasted over 400 wines, all from the Valencian Community, with a mix from the five `Denominacións De Orige´.

They have also visited the major wine fairs held in Requena ( FEREVIN) and in Valencia ( Mostra de Vins) and been on visits to Finca Collado, Chozas Carrascal, Dominio de la Vega and Sebiran, La Viña and Daniel Belda.

Amongst other highlights for the group was a very special tasting held on 13 October 2013 where we were the first group ever to undertake a vertical tasting of the wines from Bodega Finca Collado.

Wines from the Finca Collado Tasting

Wines from the Finca Collado Tasting

Tasted that day were the Blanco from 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009, a blend of Chardonnay and Moscatel and the 2004 Chardonnay which gave the group an opportunity to taste a wine and evaluate its evolution in bottle. That day the group learnt that white wine in Valencia is capable of ageing, the 2009 being fresh with good acidity even if the fruit had changed from banana and apricot to  orange peel and honey.

We also tasted a sample from deposit from the new 2013 vintage as well as the new Rosado from Merlot. In reds we compared  the 2008 and 2007 from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and the pure Merlot, the bodegas flagship wine,  from 2010 and 2009.

The single vineyard theme was repeated in May 2014 with a tasting of nine wines from Bodegas Sebirán, a bodega in DO Utiel-Requena which was celebrating its centenary. The group had tasted a Bobal from this bodega at its second meeting but subsequently it had undergone a period of closure until Ken Wagener revived and introduced a range of easy drinking wines with good price to quality ratio. On that evening ( which coincided with the birthday´s of both Ken and hostess, Marian Daras, ) we tasted the two cavas c´A Brut and Brut Nature and compared the latter with a short period since disgorging and a two-year longer period which once again smashed a myth that cava should be drunk within a year of release. It has certainly been the case that Cavas from Requena with long bottle ageing on the lees can produce wines with a three or four-year period of life.

Wines from Sebirán

Wines from Sebirán

We also tasted the basic `T´ range with a white from Macabeo, a rosado from Bobal, the new `J ´ crianza, before tasting some of the wines produced for export. We finished with the older `J´ Crianza ( Bobal) and a port style red, late harvest 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon.

For the 50th meeting a Tasting and Celebratory lunch has been arranged for the 29th March in Chaparral Restaurant in Serra. Here on the top of the Serranos we will taste eight wines and one cava from Bodegas who have agreed to sponsor the event. Each wine will be accompanied by a `gastrotapa´ created by Kike Escribano and Lorena Cases the young owners of the restaurant who are emerging as a tour de force on Valencia´s gastronomy scene. It will also be the groups first tasting with food specially prepared to match the wines.

The tasting will be followed by a meal including a paella cooked traditionally over wood accompanied by wines from the sponsoring bodegas!

50th Tasting!

50th Tasting!

The wines and the Bodegas are:-

Bodega Finca Collado, Blanco 2014 DO Alicante.

Magnanimvs Blanco 2014, Bodegas Mayo Garcia Vino de Autor, Vilafames, Castellon.

Magnanimvs Semi-Dulce 2014, Bodegas Mayo Garcia, Vino de Autor, Vilafames, Castellon.

Bobal Rosado 2014, Latorré Agrovinicola DO Utiel-Requena.

Syrah 2012, El Mollet Vino y Cultura ( Roques Negres) La Baronia, Castellon.

Pelegri, Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Baron D´Alba, Clos D´esgarracordes, IGP Castellon.

Las Ocho 2011  Vino de Pago, Bodegas Chozas Carrascal DO Utiel Requena.

Daniel Belda Chardonnay Dolç, Terres dels Alforins, DO Valencia.

Tantum Ergo Brut Nature Rose´, Hispano+Suizas DO Cava ( Requena)

The Finca Collado Blanco is possibly the best vintage yet of this wine!

The Magnanimvs Blanco is a firm favourite ! Magnanimvs Semi-Dulce is newly released and this will be the first time it has been evaluated by a wine-group! The same blend as the dry white ( Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Moscatel) it has 30gms residual sugar.

The Parreño Rosado from Latorré is full of everything you expect from a young Bobal Rosado…amazing on the nose!

The Syrah from Roques Negres is just so fresh, fruity and full of varietal characteristics!

The Pelegri from Baron D´Alba is a pure Cabernet Sauvignon very much in  the French style with lots of black pepper, typical of the variety.

The Las Ocho combines eight separate varieties in one blend and has been a consistently big and fruity wine! Pago status is very difficult to acheive!

The  Belda Chardonnay Dolç naturally fermented sweet wine is a tour de force. So sweet, honeyed and a perfect accompaniment to fresh fruit!

The Hispano+Suizas Tantum Ergo Cava is of course consistently the highest rated cava, rated not just by Parker and Penin, but by Sevi-net and The Association of Spanish wine-writers!

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The event has been organised by VÍ vid and promises to be another memorable day and tasting in the groups history and evolution….here´s to the next fifty tastings!

Bodega Finca Collado; The New Wine Releases…a VÍ vid Tasting!!!!!


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Since first encountering the wines of Bodega Finca Collado in 2009, one of the biggest highlights of each subsequent year has been the first tasting of their new wines !

Last Saturday night VÍ vid was delighted to accept an invitation to taste four new releases which will hit the market very shortly.

The Bodega has produced a consistent, and consistently good and popular, white wine since 2008. As the years have progressed the vines have matured and the wine with it! 2014 was a difficult year for the bodega with the long, hot, dry summer and the total lack of rain for the best part of twelve months. The harvest was well down on the normal level as a result but the grapes were healthy and the quality was exceptional.

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The Finca Collado Blanco is a blend of Chardonnay and Moscatel, the former matured for about three months in oak and in contact with the lees whilst the moscatel is fermented in stainless steel. Normally the blend is around 50/50 but can vary depending on the natural acidity or residual sugars in each variety as well as the alcohol content ( which can vary by as much as a degree year on year between 12-13º) . It is a fresh wine whilst young, very versatile with food and has a good ageing potential.

The 2014 is being described as the best ever produced despite the difficulties mentioned above…a big claim given that the 2013 was exceptional! ( I say `was´ because this wine sells out long before Xmas each year!)

In September we had been invited to join the harvest ( and cook the traditional lunch!) so there was special resonance in going back to taste the finished wine!

New wines awaiting lables!

New wines awaiting lables!

In colour the tasting notes match those of every previous vintage I have tried. The wine is a pale golden colour with green and gold flashes which reflect the period the Chardonnay has spent in oak ( in fact the two months oak this year is the shortest period to date.) . It is very clean, bright and has long legs and  at 13%ABV it is at the higher end.

The nose is at first restrained, it has not long been bottled, but with oxygenation the first fruit emerges…banana. This is generally a good sign that  the acidity is correct. Then slowly the apricot, not quite as marked as in the past and then a little tropical fruit ( pineapple). Lychee is often also found on the nose of this wine but I think that comes with evolution in bottle so we will have to wait and see!

The white awaiting despatch!

The white awaiting despatch!

In the mouth the acidity is perfect and the wine passes easily, filling the mouth with fruit and a solid structure. It is a big , round mouthful which persists with a very well-balanced , long finish. There are hints of orange peel in the aftertaste and this is a wine which clearly has a good potential for ageing.

So much so in fact, that discussion turned to the possibility of repeating a vertical tasting of the whites from 2014 back to 2009 ( which may be feasible if one or two private cellars can be `robbed´ of their treasures!)

As we enjoyed a humus with fresh peppers, carrot and pita bread and melba toasts with piquillo peppers and bonito thoughts turned to the Rosado.

The Rosado has not been produced since the bodega opened, making its debut in 2011. It is traditionally made from the free run juice of the first selection of Merlot grapes. Over the intervening years the colour has been the source of some discussion and its depth simply reflects the difficulty in predicting how long to leave the juice in contact with the skins. This can vary also on the time it takes to harvest the grapes.

The Rosado, Vibrant!

The Rosado, Vibrant!

This year the colour is an enticing vibrant strawberry with a blue edge as the photograph shows. It also has long legs with 11.5% ABV.

On the nose ( and bear in mind the wine had been bottle just  2-3 days earlier) the nose was more pronounced than you might have expected…..lollipop, bubble gum and strawberry fruit!

In the mouth the wine shows all the aspects you would expect but is refined. The fruit is subtle and the acidity fresh leading to a long,  dry finish with minerality. This wine always reflects most of all the very special and varied soils in this valley above the old salt lagoon.

 

The Syrah.

The Syrah.

Totally new to the bodega is the Finca Collado Syrah 2014 Joven. This started as an exercise in making a wine for a private client who buys regularly from  the bodega and who wanted a wine with his personal lable. Suffice to say the experiment has been a huge success and a limited amount of over-production which the bodega has bottled with its own lables will disappear very quickly!!!!

Syrah is a wonderful grape, when produced properly it can produce wines when young which demonstrate very clearly the  characteristics of the variety and when aged ( 30-40 years are possible) can demonstrate a silky, velvety richness. For me some of the best young syrahs are those produced around  the Crozes Hermitage and the older wines from Cote Rotie and Hermitage in the Northern Rhone valley of France.

For me this young wine would stand very good comparison with the young wines from Crozes Hermitage. Deep black cherry with long legs reflecting the 15%ABV.

On the nose the wine is full of red and black cherry, guindas ( cherries preserved in alcohol) clove, chocolate, liquorice. When first opened it reeks of cherry and chocolate but with time in glass the wine evolves through spice until the liquorice dominates!

In the mouth it is young, fresh but very big, full of black fruit, very round and dangerously easy to drink!It is a wine to drink cool on a summer’s evening in company. Oh, and it matches perfectly with both jamon or white cheese  with truffle incorporated ( Pecorino from Italy) … the fruit, the acidity and the truffle being a marriage made in heaven!!!

he Bodega´s Presses.

he Bodega´s Presses.

The last wine in this tasting is the long-awaited Finca Collado Monastrell 2012. Alicante is famed for its Monastrell and makes a wide variety of wines, the most famous being the long aged `Fondillon´.

It is another variety which when it shows its true characteristics is a joy to drink. This wine has spent 12 months on the lees in 300 litre new oak barrels and is drawn from grapes from old vines, grown in the Vinalopo valley close to the salt lagoon in Salinas.

It is a complex wine, again very deep in colour . It too is around 14.5%ABV, reflected in the time  its slow developing glycerinous legs take to develop!

On the nose it too is complex, almost sweet to start with, but with a mixture of spices, balsamicos and finally hints of leaf-mould and truffle. In the mouth it is rich, ripe , full with ripe fruit and and an incredibly long full finish. It matched very well with an orange /blue cheese ….it was a Shropshire Blue from England!!!! It also went well with lamb meatballs though less so with tomato sauce but is excellent with dark chocolate.

Prices at the bodega for the white, rosado and syrah will be around 6€ a bottle. The Monastrell will be around 15€ a bottle….worth every last centimo!!! The jamon and cheeses and some excellent sweet piquillo peppers came from the Vinoteca Quiero y Productos Gourmets  in nearby Salinas, also a source of excellent ibericos and salazones!!

Cheese Selection.

Cheese Selection.

This flagship bodega continues to provide  consistent wines but winemaker Joan Guia Conca is now developing an experimental nature which is paying off with new wines which will rank amongst the best from DO Alicante and Valencia. VÍ vid cannot wait to show all four wines at forthcoming tastings!!!

VÍ vid and a very special selection of new wines!

VÍ vid and a very special selection of new wines!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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