Tag Archives: DO Utiel-Requena

Bobal Masterclass in Valencia.


 

DO Utiel-Requena continues with its wine educational programme, this time bringing their `Jornadas´ programme to Valencia City itself, with the attendance of VIvid.

Monday and Tuesday 7/8 March saw two very special events which were held in the Royal Academy of Valencian Culture.

In support of the Territorio Bobal initiative to have Utiel-Requena and its predominant grape variety granted UNESCO world heritage status the DO organized two separate events.

The first was a conference on the Bobal variety, its value in agricultural terms, its quality as a producer of wines, and how it has shaped the life of Utiel-Requena.

The second was a tasting of five wines from the variety, exemplary wines which demonstrated the quality, potential, ageing characteristics and versatility of the variety.

Neither the history nor the quality of the wines are any novelty to VIvid. We have followed closely the UNESCO campaign, attending regular presentations and reporting on them, tasting the wines and even presenting them in tutored tastings ourselves, most recently in a training course in the English language for the DO itself.

What made this pair of events different was that they were presented by Jose Vicente Guillem Ruiz ( Pepe) whose standing in the wine world in the Valencian Community is  unparalleled.

Born in 1945 and qualified as an `Agricultural Engineer´ he is a specialist in the industry, management of companies in the sector, has been Director of the Requena  Estación de Viticultura and Enologia and is an expert with links to both the Valencian Institute of Agricultural Quality and the Agriculture Ministry of the Valencian Government.

He is President of the Proava tasting panel for the Concurso de Vinos Valencia, the Provinces most important wine Competition on which VIvid are jurors.

We attended the specialist tasting precisely because we knew we would learn something more about the wines we regularly use! And so it proved to be.

20160308_193748First of the five wines was an Espumoso, Pago de Tharsys Unico 2008, a wine made by the Traditional Method but not allowed to be called a Cava because the Bobal variety is not permitted by the DO. The vines are well known to us, we helped harvest the 2014 vintage. With more than 20 years of age they are from an ecological vineyard. Gold in colour, brilliant with gold flashes, this wine has 20 months on the lees in bottle before disgorging. Fine persistent bubbles rising in spirals from multiple points in the glass, typical summer fruits of apricot, toasted almonds and white flowers on the nose and repetition in the mouth, this is a quality wine with a long, full finish. Elegant.

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The Parreño Rosado 2015 is a `classic´. Fresh rose in colour with the typical violet edge of the variety on the nose it is all bubble-gum strawberry and pear drop boiled sweets! Fresh, well balanced in the     mouth and with a wonderful acidity and volume, yet fresh and easy to drink. The best vintage we have ever tasted.

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Al Vent Bobal 2014 is also a young wine from Coviñas. Black cherry in colour it shows slightly menthol notes, fresh cherry and blackcurrant fruit as well as the childrens sweets characteristic of the variety. With notes of a short period in barrel it is unctuous, balanced and seductive. A wine to share with friends.

 

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Caprasia Bobal/Merlot 2014 from Vegalfaro is distinct for the varieties having been picked in mid September and the last week of October, vinified separately then blended after  just three months  in second use oak . Cherry red, with lots of red fruits on the nose the acidity of the Bobal is counterbalanced by the sweet plum fruit of the Merlot. Well balanced, fruity and a delight to drink!

 

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Finally the Casa Don Angel  Bobal 2011 from Vera de Estenas with  18 months in French oak . Cherry in colour but with its characteristic purple edge, something which barely diminishes with age it had a distinctly oaky elegant nose, ripe plum, chocolate, liquorice and smoky notes . Powerful but still young on the nose. In the mouth intense with black fruit, cinnamon, vanilla, cedar wood, an elegant wine with a long finish and many years life ahead of it.

This was a masterclass in all senses of the word, a tasting not to be forgotten.

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


VÍ vid in the Symposium

VÍ vid in the Symposium

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First sesion supported by Cajamar

First sesion supported by Cajamar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After Almuerzo we moved to the second session.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Support from Cajamar

Support from Cajamar

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

Two simple concepts, one simple answer.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Lunch with many Cosecheros

Lunch with many Cosecheros

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

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

Selection of DO wines for official occasions

Selection of DO wines for official occasions

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

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

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

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

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

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

VÍ vid. Happy with the training!

VÍ vid. Happy with the training!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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