Tag Archives: Bobal

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).

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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) .



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.



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!



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!

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Dominio de La Vega Introduces a New Range of Wines. #VinosSeleccionDV

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Yesterday, Monday 20 April, the press were invited to Dominio de La Vega, in San Antonio, for the launch of a new range of wines.

The winery has been producing amongst the best wines year after year and the winemakers have had a growing desire to make a new style of wine. This includes new modern lables, new designs and names which perfectly reflect the precious liquids the bottles contain.

Its success in doing so is reflected in  a combination of more successful  marketing and wine sales and to a  higher level of interest from export markets.

The bodegas entry-level brand, Añacal , (a white, rosado and red)   continues unchanged for the time being.

Their next range, the `madurado en barrica´ Bobal and special selection Sauvignon Blanc and a Reserva tinto are the wines being replaced.


The encounter  started with an aperitif under the pines ( either a cava or the rosado) whilst everyone was welcomed, old acquaintances renewed and one or two new contacts were made! The old Casa del Conde which sits alongside the old National road from Valencia to Madrid, was built around 200 years ago at the height of Valencia´s export sales to France, a time when phylloxera had killed off the vines particularly around Bordeaux. This period also coincided with the growth of the railways which transported the wine to Valencia´s port.

As a treat, we were about to be offered a vertical tasting of the bodega´s Artemayor red wine. This is a wine from Bobal, made only from the very best plot of the variety belonging to the bodega , La Beata, It is not a conventional wine. The 90-year-old plus vines are now producing concentrated, small berries which , with careful skills Dani Esposito , the bodegas  winemaker and winner of many awards, is turning into an exceptional wine. When Dani started with the 2001 vintage Bobal it was still considered a poor variety only good for rosado. It certainly was not considered a wine to make heavy reds for ageing in bottle!

photo 4(7)

The wine is also a blend of three vintages.

We commenced with the first `añada´ produced, a blend of 2001, 2002 and 2003., approximately 75% being from 2002.

This had been bottled in 2004 . Garnet in colour there was evidence of sediment in the glass and it is beginning to show a hint of terracotta at the rim. On the nose it is still lively with mature, sweet fruit, a vegetal hint and oak. In the mouth it was fruity, slightly jammy, lively, with soft tannins and a touch of chocolate in a long full finish.

The second añada, a blend of 2002, 2003 and 2004 was a slightly deeper colour with softer fruit on the nose but the tannins were a little firmer.

By the third añada ( 2004/2005/2006) the bodega was experimenting with the maximum maceration and extraction of colour and flavour from the variety. The wood was much more marked on the nose, with the wine showing cacao and leather. This was the leanest añada with the least fruit, quite hard and tannic.

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The fourth, a similar colour to the last two, was perhaps a little brighter. This had undergone fermentation in open barrels and the 2005/2006 and 2007 were more balsamic on the nose , with hints of concentrated Marmite yeasts. concentrated and whilst rounder in the mouth the fruit was again a bit lean. This wine has some way to go before it will be ready and I will be sitting on my bottles for a while, I think!

Finally the 2006/ 2007 and 2008 which comprises añada 5 was the brightest colour yet. This had notably long,  heavy legs. The nose is initially closed but as it opens up cherry fruit, mature emerges. In the mouth the wine has a lot of oak, toasty, but black fruit, chocolate and a touch of tobacco leaf.

All the wines show good reasons to keep well made Bobal wines for some time to allow them to express themselves fully.

Alvaro Faubel presents the new wines.

Alvaro Faubel presents the new wines.

Then it was off to work with Alvaro Faubel, one of the bodegas three owners presenting the new labels and wines.

This was accompanied by a lunch provided by  El Yantar, the highly favoured Venta del Moro fusion restaurant.

It has to be said the Bobal and Sauvignon Blanc with their modern , brightly coloured labels have proved a very popular range. It was with interest that we sat down to see what was taking their place!

There was to be no disappointment!

Recuérdame Blanco Seco 2014 with three months in oak is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, ( 80%) with 15% Chardonnay and 5% Macabeo. It is golden in colour, surprisingly so, clean, brilliant with good legs ( 12%ABV).

On the nose it is initially very floral, elderflower, grass, with the Sauvignon Blanc dominating. As it evolves so does the passion fruit and then a little pineapple as the chardonnay appears.

Cod to accompany the Recuérdame.

Cod to accompany the Recuérdame.

In the mouth it seemed light but suddenly it all comes together, a big , well-integrated mouthful, fruity, with lively acidity, rich, well-balanced and with a long full finish. At 6-7€ a bottle in the market this is a worthy successor and we look forward to showing it at tastings. It was matched with cod ( slow cooked at low temperature) still translucent, served on potato and a creamed runner bean and onion sauce made with arbequina olive oil, and decorated with pomegranate seed and cress. This was stunningly good.

Bobal En Calma

Bobal En Calma

The second wine is a Bobal 2013, `Bobal en Calma´ with 9 months of ageing in 500 litre oak barrels. This is made to be fresh and to show the acidity and tannins which balance the fruit. Deep black cherry in colour with long slow, glycerinous legs. At first the nose was a little closed but the wine evolved quickly in glass ( it needs another couple of months in bottle) with fresh cherry nose then liquorice, chocolate and smoke. In the mouth it is indeed a fresh fruity wine, with good tannins and a long finish. It is a wine to drink with friends and good value at .7-8€.

Egg in a nest!

Egg in a nest!

This was matched with poached quail egg on foie in a nest of pasta canaif, and roast apple with small cubes of gelatine made with white, rosado and tinto wines.

The third wine `Paraje Tornel´is also a Bobal with 12 months oak ageing. This is designed to show the intensity of wines from the variety with very mature vines.

Paraje Tornel Bobal

Paraje Tornel Bobal

Very deep black cherry, very full with long slow legs.

On the nose the fruit, acidity  and the alcohol are perfectly integrated. Ripe blackberry and cherry fruit, liquorice, chocolate, café, crema patisseria were all evident. The fruit and spice are matched in the mouth with a full, creamy , round mouthful with a long fruity finish. Excellent!

This was served with carillera, perfectly tender cheeks served in a rich sauce and garnished with a macedoine of carrot and courgette and beans with baby pickled onion and tomato garnish.



But , most of those around us agreed that the Bobals also went best with the sponge served as dessert with ice-cream and cinnamon with a hot chocolate sauce…..Bobal and chocolate, no surprise there!


An excellent presentation, three worthy new wines to bear the Dominio de la Vega name, a tasting of five añadas of Artemayor and more examples of the excellent fusion food from El Yantar. An excellent mornings work! Thank you to Dominio de la Vega!


BOBOS, Hispano+Suizas Launch their New Bobal!

Bobos Finca La Borrach 2011.

Bobos Finca La Borracha 2011.

When Hispano+Suizas launched in 2006, the jointly Spanish/Swiss owned bodega with a high emphasis on the quality of its products, the owners could hardly have expected or dreamed about the spectacular trajectory the bodega would take. Consistently high   scores in the Penin guide for their cavas, backed up by high scores in Parker, then the Pinot Noir Cava Tantum Ergo being named best Cava in Spain finally has finally led to the bodega being named the best in Spain by contributors to Verema, the countries most important wine website with its many forums.

The bodega released a Pinot Noir/ Bobal blend as a dulce a couple of years ago and Bobal has been included in the red wine Quod Superius since its inception.

The bodega never had a wine made with pure Bobal, yet the bodega building, the Finca La Borracha , is surrounded by vines from this variety with 70+ years of age. All that has now changed with the launch of a new wine, Bobos, which I was privileged to attend on Saturday.

Aperitif on the terrace with Pablo Ossorio

Aperitif on the terrace with Pablo Ossorio

I had visited the bodega in September last year, ( Archives 26 September 2012) and my blog from then deals with philosophy of the owners.

Together with around twenty wine experts, wine and food bloggers, journalists and food importer/exporters I arrived to a Cava welcome on the spectacular terrace where the lunch table was being set up.

In the Tasting Suite.

In the Tasting Suite.

The visit this time started with a tasting of grapes from the Bobal variety to introduce us to its characteristics as well as giving us an insight into the work of the wine-maker. There were grapes from two bunches. The first were from typically big healthy bunches of Bobal, black with a cottony down in places, big compact grapes, heavy. The second was from the sort of bunch wine-makers looking to do something special,  seek out, The grapes on this bunch were smaller and less tightly packed.

Bunches of Bobal Grapes.

Bunches of Bobal Grapes.

Firstly we pulled the stalk from the top of the grape and compared the difference, those from the bigger bunch were still green and those from the smaller had started to turn red inside the grape.

Next we opened the grape and looked at the pulp, taking the pips out. We compare the pulp, chewing on it to release the sugars and the juices, the smaller ones clearly having more concentrated, ripe fruit. The skins were chewed to compare the colour and taste the tannins and acidity and then even the pips were crunched between the teeth to see what was released, colour and tannins wise.

Tasting the Grapes.

Tasting the Grapes.

Pablo Ossorio went on to explain more about the Variety and its importance before the tour advanced to the fermentation room in the bodega.

Here we were to taste first the must from recently harvested  Chardonnay, direct from the deposit, which was full of flavours of green apple, grass and banana. Next we tried the Chardonnay fermenting in the open-topped barrels. This had changed character and with about 4.5% ABV now had a much more grapefruit flavour.

Fermenting Chardonnay.

Fermenting Chardonnay.

The Pinot Noir with its intense rose-pink colour, also fermenting in barrel was fresh and showed good fruit even at this early stage.

All these wines are protected from oxidation by the cover of Carbon-dioxide which sits over the wine, a bi-product of the fermentation process which is carefully temperature controlled. These wines when finished will become the base for the bodegas cavas, undergoing blending as appropriate and then second fermentation and ageing on the lees in bottle.

We moved on to see the grapes arriving and being stored in cold cabinets to keep them fresh for fermentation  when space is available in the bodega. Then it was down into cellars to see the barrels where the wines are stored, the cava ageing quietly and the bottling process.

Back upstairs a lunch had been prepared, traditional local fare, such as jamon, cheese, anchovies with fresh cheese, ajoarriero, , local sausages such as Longaniza de Pascua, sliced and then a barbecue of morcilla, pancetta, gueños, chorizos, lamb chops, served with the local potatos and fried eggs before fresh fruit and local pastries for dessert.

Laid up for Lunch.

Laid up for Lunch.

But what of Bobal and the new wine?

As a variety Bobal is old and well documented since the 9th century. It is widely planted in La Manchuela, DO Utiel-Requena and DO Ribera del Jucar. It has several names including Bobos, Requena, Benicarló, Provechon, Balau, Balaura, Tinto de Requena, Requeni and Valenciana Tinta amongst others. As an old synonym Bobos was considered appropriate for this new entrant to the market.

It is a problematic variety despite its great resistance to infection and oidium in particular. It is drought resistant but needs rain at the right time and has, of course reactions to soil and other conditions. Age of the vines is important, it is a useful wine when young for blending because it has good colour which does not fade and it does not dominate other varieties. For this reason much is exported for use elsewhere.  When older it makes superb rosado´s and until the millenium this was considered its merit.

But with age, and we are talking vines with 70+ years of age a great change takes place, the bunches cease to be so large and compact, becoming smaller, in grape size and overall volume, the berries are more concentrated with better colour depth of flavour and the wine has potential for ageing…as a number of local bodegas are beginning to find.

Pouring Bobos 2011.

Pouring Bobos 2011.

Grapes from the 2011 vintage were selected and placed in 400 litre American oak barrels.  Here they were macerated at 8ºC for 4 days. Then a gentle pressing released the juice which once fermenting was then passed to French Allier oak for ten months before bottling.

This has given a wine with very specific characteristics. It is a very deep colour with a bright red edge, very typical of the variety. Giving it a swirl in the glass we waited for the legs to appear…..and waited! When they did deem to appear they were incredibly slow, long and hugely glycerinous ( the wine has 10.7gms of glycerine per litre) and they coloured the glass. I have rarely seen anything move more slowly!

On the nose the fruit has a maturity, with coffee, balsamic notes predominating, clove, red fruit jam, very concentrated but a medium intensity, not too powerful.

In the mouth the tannins were smooth, the fruit gently opening then almost exploding. It is the acidity which is most notable, but is fresh strawberry fruit and vanilla that I noted in the long finish. In time this acidity will diminish and the wine already has a harmony between the fruit, alcohol  and the wood.

2012 Left, 2011 Right.

2012 Left, 2011 Right.

We were also fortunate to try the 2012 barrel sample. This has had 10 months in 225 litre French oak including fermentation.

It is currently a dense wine, similar colour to the 2011, maybe a little more garnet in the centre. On the nose there is more fruit than wood, red and black, concentrated and jammy. In the mouth the wood is soft, the wine very elegant, silky and very nicely balanced.

Bobos is and will be an excellent addition to the wines from this leading bodega, in perfect harmony with the philosophy and house style which is quality above all else. I look forward to tasting this into the future because I am sure it has potential for a long life! Both have 13.5% ABV.

My thanks also go once again to Pablo, Marc and Rafa for the invitation and hospitality and to Paco Alonso for organising the event and including me in it!


And to Accompany Lunch....

And to Accompany Lunch….

Coviñas Launches New Bobal Tinto in the `Al Vent´ Range.

Publicity Banner for the New Wine


`Al Vent´is the new range from Coviñas the flagship co-operative based in Requena.

Some two years ago this progressive organisations new product committee were looking for something to fill the emerging market for wines aimed at the younger wine-drinker, something with style and a new look in packaging terms as well as a quality product.

The first wine was the 2010 Bobal Rosado, a wine which hit the market with its stylish new bottle and fancy case design but most importantly was a fresh fruity rosado with bags of strawberry, cream and bubble-gum flavours balanced with a fresh acidity making it an easy drinker, something to enjoy with friends on its own, with a good seafood and rice dish but which did not hit you hard in the pocket. I remember drinking this on several occasions and showing it at wine tastings……so the products committee seem to have fulfilled their brief! ( Especially as the wine was selected as best Rosado in the region.)


The Al Vent Range.

With the name and the packaging protected, the search for a white to join the range began . Sauvignon Blanc is not widely grown in Utiel-Requena although Hispano Suizas have a `tour de force´ with theirs. It is a variety which ripens quickly and needs to be picked at its optimum ( a critically short  period)  as Felix Garcia was explaining to me last night. If not the acidity is lost and you might as well throw the grapes away.

However, this was the variety chosen and I first tasted the wine at the Requena sausage fair earlier this year, product of the 2011 vintage. I was amazed at the northern French style nose , all cats pee, elderflower and  gooseberry with a little less of the tropical fruit which sunnier climates can produce. In the mouth it too had a well-balanced acidity making it an easy drinker and a worth addition to the range.

Last night saw the launch of the red wine to complete the range, a Tinto, 100% Bobal in the joven style. Being a co-operative they have access to plots of vines right across the Utiel-Requena plateau with vines as low as 400m above sea level right up to 900m. Diego Morcillo the winemaker at Coviñas explained that the concept for this wine was to make a coupage with some wines from the higher levels, grown in the traditional style and others from lower levels, grown specifically for the fruit flavours and destined for cold fermentation and six months in French and American oak. This means that the elegance and structure which bobal can produce is balanced with maximum extraction of aromatics and fruit flavours in a blend which is lightly filtered before bottling and which will throw a small amount of sediment.


Felix Garcia Approves the New Wine!

The wine was shown chilled as last night temperatures were still around 30 degrees and was bottled just three weeks ago.

It is typically deep, dark, cherry in colour with the bright violet-blue edge which is characteristic of the wine, with good legs. The nose was initially a little muted for me, probably because it needs a little longer in bottle to settle down and a direct result of chilling. However as it warmed up there was a distinct waft of fruit and in the mouth there is plenty of cherry, soft tannins, and with a good long finish with lots of chocolate and coffee cream.

Felix, Miguel Angel Martin of `enocata.com´and I quickly formed an impromptu tasting committee! Our view was unanimously that this is an easy drinking, well made wine, with sufficient fruit and elegance. Overall it is fun wine, one in which  you don´t have to go looking for scents and flavours  as Felix put it!

It is, on the basis of last nights launch a worthy addition to complete this range.

The wine is also aimed at the restaurant trade although it may well be that Coviñas will seek importers for the range ( all three of which sell for about 3.50€ a bottle ) from the UK especially. This time it will be in the specialist market as there is insufficient production to satisfy supermarket chains.

The UK, Germany, Italy and China are seen as destinations for their wines following initial success in these markets. Good news for Aldi´s UK customers looking for more of the `Toro Loco´ Tempranillo  is that there is more on the way! The bodega sold 7 million bottles last year, around 20% more than the year before and exported lots more in bulk.

The launch was held in the 14th Century Palacio del Mercader, a gothic style building in the centre of Valencia which was restored in 1998 before becoming the HQ of the federations of Valencia´s Cooperative movements. The launch was followed by a tasting of the `Al Vent ´range and an impressive finger buffet!

This is an impressive range of easy drinking wines with a very good quality to price ratio and I look forward to finding a local distributor so that I can enjoy more of them over the rest of the year!



European Wine Tourism Day and Some 2011 Wines Tasted!

Young Tasters at Vera de Estenas.


The past weekend saw European Wine Tourism Day and in Utiel-Requena this was marked by a number of events both in the old centre of Requena where visitors could enjoy a glass of wine and a tapa ( not actually a local tradition) in the castle square.  On the Sunday visitors to a number of bodegas were able to check on the progress of the 2011 vintage wines.

Due to previous engagements I did not get to the castle square but I certainly have managed to try a number of the new wines and some destined for blending and ageing over the next few months.

I started at Dominio de la Vega where I had to call-in to buy some wine anyway. The bodega seemed to have a good number of visitors and having completed the purchase of some 2010 Bobal I was invited to try the new Bobal….which curiously had a label calling it `Primum Bobal 2011´. By all accounts the harvest of Bobal was a spectacular success with quality up, production down but acidity, fruit and concentration all that might be hoped for.


Felix Martinez Leads the Tasting at Vera de Estenas.

This particular bobal was still at the end of its malolactic fermentation and not ready for sale but clearly has a huge amount going for it! Deep purple with a violet-blue edge, not quite clear due to the ongoing malolactic activity, but with long legs. On the nose deep, very fruity with lots of boiled sweets, bubble gum. In the mouth youthful, deep, warm and fruity with lots of black fruits and liquorice. Good start!

This is a young wine destined to be released as such.  Hopefully by Christmas we will see `Primum Bobal´, the wine being produced by Dani Esposito at the bodega, for the Primum Bobal Association of seven local bodegas dedicated to promoting the variety and improving its production and then in March the bodegas´own young bobal with oak ageing being released. 2011 clearly has more depth and concentration than 2010 and the time can´t fly by fast enough for me!

Second visit of the morning was to Vera de Estenas where Felix Martinez had promised a tasting of cask or deposit samples of the headline grape varieties.

We started here with the Chardonnay, destined for the Viña Lidon 2011. Harvested on the 2nd September and having been committed to barrel on the fourth of November this wine was also undergoing its malolactic fermentation. As a result it was still turbio ( or cloudy ) but on the nose the hint of ripe banana was balanced with fresh acidity in the mouth. To me this is reminiscent of the young 2010 which is widely recognised as the best vintage of this marque. Destined to be a lovely wine, which is very lucky given the unwanted attention of hailstorms and young rabbits both of which caused much damage in the vineyard this year.


Autumn Patchwork in Requena´s Vineyards!

Second sample was the Malbec, which at 13.41% was also undergoing its malolactic fermentation in deposit. Also a youthful purple with long legs and slightly cloudy, the nose had lots of red fruit and clove, and grass and herbs. Harvested on the 20th September this wine is the most forward and will finish its `malo´this week, go to deposit to clear and then to barrica before eventual blending as the bodega´s second wine.

Third was the Merlot which is the first red harvested at the Vera de Estenas and destined for the Martinez Bermell marque. At 13.1% ABV this has already had 15 days in barrel and was a medium cherry red with a very closed nose. At present this is light and fruity in the mouth. The short barrel ageing will round it out before its release in the Spring.

Next up was the Tempranillo, at 13.13% ABV with just three days in barrel. A similar colour to the Merlot it has raspberry , red wood fruits and grass on the nose. In the mouth quite dry and this needs some time in barrel before eventual blending.

Finally we tried the Bobal which Felix describes as the best yet, at least at this stage! 14.91% ABV this was just starting its malo and is a very deep cherry colour with the trademark blue edge. Destined for the flagship Casa Don Angel Bobal this wine allowed a little fruit to emerge with lots of aeration, and in the mouth had huge depth, potential and meaty body. Without a doubt 2011 will be a vintage to lay down for some time when it is finally released….in 2014!

This was a really educational tasting for which, many thanks Felix.

Vineyards at Finca Ardal.

We ended up at Finca Ardal for a tasting of wines from Luis Gil Orozco´s excellent range finishing with the Ocho Cuerdas Bobal, one of my favourites and the bodegas Primum Bobal wine. One of my favourites! Luis is President of the rutavino in Utiel-Requena and it is worth recording there were events also at Pago de Tharsys, La Madroñera, Chozas Carrascal, Torroja, Vegalfaro, Hoya de Cadenas, Pasiego, Aranleon, Utielanas, Torre Oria, Vereda Real, Emilio Clemente and Coviñas ( who had a wine and chocolate tasting) as well as several Hotels and restaurants in the region.

When I say we ended up at Finca Ardal it was of course only relevant to the Sunday and if there is any opportunity to extend events it is a given that I will try to do it. So on the Monday ( yesterday) we paid a flying visit to Finca Collado  in Salinas ( DO Alicante) to see how the new wines we helped to pick ( or in my case watched being picked!) were progressing.

Guillermo is positively fizzing over this years wines and having tasted the musts I wanted to try the wines at their next stage.

We started with the rosado, a deep cherry red from pure Merlot which, subject to losing maybe a little colour in a light filtration could just as easily be marketed as a `joven tinto´given its deep colour. This was the result of picking and leaving the grapes for twenty-four hours before pressing. On the nose this wine has bags of boiled fruit sweets and in the mouth is fresh, light and fruity. A really easy drinker this should be ready hopefully in time for Xmas!


Harvest at Finca Collado.

The moscatel by contrast is currently showing quite dry and fresh with lighter fruit than expected whilst the Chardonnay by contrast, currently undergoing barrel ageing was very fruity, elegant ripe banana and mango but with a lovely fresh acidity balancing the touch of oak. This is destined for the blend which makes up the Finca Collado Blanco which promises to be every bit as good as the 2010 award-winning wine! Hopefully there will be enough Chardonnay to produce a small amount as a monovarietal.

So good progress here as well and an educational weekend overall.

These events help everyone understand the evolution of wine and are very welcome! The one conclusion that flies out is that 2011 has indeed been a very good year for wine making here!





Asociación Primum Bobal, the `Jewel in the Crown´ Gets Its Own Quality Mark.

The Logo for the New Association.

Bobal, Utiel-Requena´s very own grape, unique to the region and potentially one of the most versatile quality producing varieties in the world  now has its own `quality mark´. Thursday 10 March saw the launch of the new association `Primum Bobal´which has been created by seven of the top bodegas from the area.

The launch was held at the Requena wine school and technical institute itself a leading producer of top quality wine-makers over recent years. Some of them are actively involved in the project.

President of the Association is Felíx Martinez Roda, owner of Vera de Estenas, and he welcomed the guests invited to the launch. The seven bodegas and their top wines bearing the new logo on their bottles were:-

  • Vera de Estenas, Casa Don Angel Bobal,
  • Pasiego, Bobal 2005,
  • Pagos de Molino, Arras de Bobal 2004
  • Chozas Carrascal, Las Dosces
  • Dominio de la Vega, Arte Mayor 2005
  • Finca Ardal,Ocho Cuerdas Bobal  2005
  • Dagon, Miquelius.

The Association´s Members.

  The Association is led by Félix Martinez Roda of Vera de Estenas together with, Julian Lopez of Chozas carrascal, Luis Gil-Orozco of Finca Ardal, Emilio Esposito of Dominio de la Vega, Daniel Esposito of Pagos de Molino, Jose-Luis Salon of Pasiego and  Miguel Marquez of Bodegas Dagon. Each of the bodegas is a small to medium property with limited production dedicated to quality and not to quantity.

Each of the bodegas is dedicated to understanding its soil, or terroir, and controlling the entire process from planting to harvest and bottling all done within the bodega. All use Bobal either on its own or in a blend with other varieties, are family concerns rather than large commercial interests and are pooling their resources, knowledge and expertise as a team to better the area as a whole.

It is hoped that the initiative will eventually spread to other bodegas who share the passion and the vision, as well as improving the world-wide recognition of  Utiel-Requena  as a wine-growing area, and a producer of quality wines.

Like all good quality marks the presentation of a smart new label and logo is only just the beginning of the process.

To this end the Association is working with the University of Vallallodid and the University Polytechnic of Valencia in research projects to better understand the variety, the soil, the best yeasts to ferment the wine as well as promoting wine as a healthy food and commercially to build Bobal as a strong brand for the area.

 Each of the members spoke briefly about the project before Pere Mercado ( spokesperson for the group) detailed the thinking behind the logo and presented a slide show of the member bodegas, their soils etc.

The Tasting Table.

       Following the formal presentation the guests descended into the old cellars of the institute for an informal tasting of the seven wines which will initially wear the new label and logo of Primum Bobal.

There was no particular order as each wine stands very much on its own. I started with Las DosCes which is a blend of 51% Bobal, 39% Tempranillo and 10% Syrah and which is 13.5% ABV. Deep cherry red with long legs and a violet edge, on the nose quite sharp red fruit, soft oaky toasty notes and hints of balsamicos. In the mouth the wine is fresh, quite intense, smooth with a good long finish full of damsons and plums.

Second wine was the 2006 Bobal from Vera de Estenas which formed part of the tasting in last weeks post. This is 100 Bobal and 14.5% ABV, a deep cherry red with the blue edge so characteristic of the grape. On the nose mature red and black fruit, elegant and smooth with notes of oak from the crianza. In the mouth very round with liquorice and coffee.

Third of the seven was the Arte Mayor 2004 ,14% ABV  also a pure Bobal from Dominio de la Vega. This is a remarkably consistent wine and very deep purple in colour, and is very open and fruity. On the nose huge hints of damsons and plums, powerful with fruits of the forest as well, minerals oak and balsamicos. In the mouth this was possibly the most forward of all the wines. Liquorice , fruit, a huge powerful body and structure, elegant and spicy with a very long finish.

Fourth wine was the Ocho Cuerdas of Finca Ardal, 14% and from 2005. A medium density ruby-red with long legs. On the nose this needed aeration, as it was quite closed, showing only a little red and black fruit and rather more oak from the crianza.In the mouth hints of coffee and liquorice with astringency, quite tannic full-bodied but lacking balance. Needs longer .

Arras de Bobal from Pagos de Molino.

Next was the Arras de Bobal from Daniel Esposito who makes wine for Dominio de la Vega but also has his own small vineyard and `garage´bodega Pagos de Molino. This is a table wine rather than DO but as we have come to learn some of the best wines are sometimes outside the rules of the DO! This was a deep dark red with long legs. On the nose chocolate, coffee, notes from the crianza of lacteos and in the mouth chocolate, tannin, leather, plums, dried figs, very complex with spices ( clove). 14.5% ABV and a wine to revisit…wonderful!

Last of the conventional reds was the Pasiego 2005 at 14% ABV which is a blend of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Bobal and 20% of Tempranillo. Fermentation by variety takes place in stainless steel before 14 months of crianza. A medium density cherry red in colour on the nose many different touches of wood, coffee, vanilla and cream, a little leather. In the mouth blackberry, tannin then smooth and elegant. Very nice!

Miquelius from Bodegas Dagon.

Final wine in the tasting was the Miquelius from Bodegas Dagon of Venta del Moro. I first tasted a sweeter version of this wine from a different vintage at the Certamen del Venta del Moro last October and have not seen it since…..it is a very small production, available from the bodega or as a rare treat at the Ritz in London!

This  wine caused quite a stir as I suspect it was new to a number of those present. Miguel Marquez has produced a wine from late harvested grapes with a degree of pasification ( the harvest starts when everybody else has finished!) which has all the qualities and characteristics of a rich old oloroso sherry, a wine of intense character, flavour and style.

A deep dark rusty colour, with very long legs. On the nose dried grapes, sultanas, raisins, lots of dried fruit and with the style of a good Pedro Ximinez…in fact you could be fooled very easily into thinking that this was what it was! In the mouth all the potential was released with a degree more sweetness than the nose had predicted.

This is a wine to obtain and lovingly put away because it has a long future ahead of it and will pay you back many times as it ages in bottle!

And what a versatile wine it proved to be over the lunch which followed!

Following the presentation and tasting we were driven to Dominio de la Vega for a celebratory lunch at the bodega.

Dining Room at Dominio de la Vega.

Here we were able to ask questions informally of the members of the association whilst we enjoyed a superb lunch prepared by Requena´s Restaurante Fiesta. We also enjoyed the seven wines which had been the basis of the earlier tasting, this time  matching them with local cuisine such as Güeña ( a local sausage) in a puré of mango and onion, perro, morcilla and chorizo…all also local varieties of sausage followed by an arroz melloso de pueblo….a rice dish with more stock giving it a risotto style and then a smoked pancetta with potato, truffles and artichoke served on toasted bread.

Finally we finished with a Bobal Floral, different in that the sorbets were made from Bobal and were served with fresh red and black fruits.

Bobal Floral.

You may think this was an ideal match for the Miquelius and indeed it was. Curiously I noticed Miguel and his family were drinking his wine throughout the meal and more than once he offered me some of his wine to try with the previous courses. To me it seemed a perfect match with each of the previous courses as well!

And so the day came to an end and we returned to Valencia.

The Association has much to be proud of in commencing this immense and worthwhile enterprise which deserves support from all, especially at a difficult time for the wine industry on which so many people in the area depend!

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