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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!


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!

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….

A Visit to Bodegas Hispano+Suizas, Open Day During the Vendimia.

The Bodega´s Products.


Hispano+Suizas is a bodega within D.O. Utiel-Requena but also has the right to make D.O.Cava. It sits on the N322 from Requena to Albacete just outside the hamlet of El Ponton and opposite Finca Ardal.

The bodega itself appears old but the façade whilst original and originally an old local finca, is completely modern, both behind and more importantly underneath! The bodega is also sufficiently modern not to appear in either the guide by Juan Piqueras in 2000 or the Biblio Metropoli´s Guide to the Wine Routes of the Valencian Community which was published in 2004/5. The reason of course is that this is a very new project, dating back to the first wine in 2006 only!

Syrah in the Vineyard.

The project is the result of a friendship between three major protagonists all of whom had, and still have,  experience working in a big Swiss owned conglomerate Bodegas Schenk, now Murviedro.

Marc Grin, Pablo Ossorio and Rafael Navarro named the bodega after their origins. Marc is the Swiss born marketing arm of the enterprise, responsible for much of the design, who today combines his overseas marketing role for Hispano+Suizas with that of Murviedro.

Pablo is Technical Director of Murviedro and wine-maker at Hispano+Suizas, having graduated from the Requena Wine School and with International experience in Argentina and Italy. Pablo was chosen by his peers as best winemaker in the Valencian Region in 2008.

Rafa is in charge of the vineyards and is also winemaker at the bodega. His particular interests are getting the best out of some of the newer varieties in the DO such as Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc he is considered an innovative viticultor and is consultant to other bodegas in the area.

Freshly picked Cabernet Franc.

At 4000 vines to the hectare, all `en espaldera, ´ the bodega comprises some 60 hectares, most of which surround the winery itself. Apart from the newer varieties of Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Verdot, the two Cabernets (Sauvignon and Franc), Merlot, Syrah and of course Bobal make up the red varieties and  Chardonnay and Verdejo the whites.

Having started in 2006 the bodega has survived on very small productions of each of its wines, initially Bassus Pinot Noir and Impromptu, a barrel fermented Sauvignon Blanc. The cavas followed, Tantum Ergo in two versions. First was the white, a Dom Perignon style blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and the rosado which is pure Pinot Noir.

Today there are eight wines in the range, all named with a musical theme reflecting what the bodega itself would describe as a slightly elitist approach to wines, nonetheless the wines are accessible ranging from 17.5€ to 38.5€ depending on the product. As the old adage goes, quality always sells, added to the rarity value of some of these wines the prices reflect the quality which is defined not just by tasting the wines but by the scores awarded by those who matter, Parker, Penin, Guia Sevi  and Gastronostrum. The rosado cava scored between 92-4/100 in these guides and has been described as the best in the world! In fact Penin has placed five of the wines in the very top range of wines from Spain, two years running.

Pinot Noir Fermenting.

The open day commenced with a quick look at the vineyard where harvesting of the Cabernet Franc was under way before moving to the reception area for the grapes where we were shown the chilling chambers where the grapes spend up to 36 hours resting before wine-making process begins. ( For more details see my archived post 11 February 2011. ) Here we also tasted the freshly harvested Cabernets.

Into the bodega you are struck first by the two rows of open-topped barrels with wine fermenting within, the cap of grapes ( whole berry fermentation) sitting thick on top and awaiting batonnage to extract maximum aroma and colour. The deposits are all small by many standards, reflecting the fact that this year may just be the first where they achieve the 85k bottle maximum production.

In the cellars.

Downstairs the small undercroft is full of oak barrels and bottles of cava in various stages of development and then the bottling area shares space next door with the wines which have been bottled, cased and which are ready for sales and distribution.

Then upstairs we visited the `hotel´, five rooms which are available for those following the Rutavino in Utiel-Requena and which are part of their contribution to wine-tourism in the area. In practice these rooms which are individually and differently decorated tend to be used more by visitors to the bodega from abroad and buyers from within Spain.

Back outside were joined by fourth member of the team, Vicente Cortes who was to introduce Rafa to us and then conduct a tasting of five of the bodegas wines accompanied by local snacks such as bollo and ajoarriero.

Vicente is head of national sales, accounting still for about 70% of the bodega´s production.

Vicente Cortes.

First wine was the Tantum Ergo Brut Nature from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. From 2009 I have found this wine to be consistent year on year ( so far) and the wine is straw yellow, clean and bright with green flashes. The bubbles are very fine and persistent. The nose demonstrates white flowers, patisserie and some citrus elements, and long-lasting. In the mouth full, good attack and nice acidity, citrus fruits and a long satisfying finish.

Second was the Tantum Ergo Pinot Noir, Brut Rosado from 2010. Pale strawberry  or rose-pink, fine persistent bubbles, good crown, clean and bright. On the nose predominantly red fruits, vanilla and a degree of toastiness. In the mouth it is soft, passes easily across the palate, good acidity and long fruity finish. A lovely wine.

Third was the 2011 vintage of the Impromptu Sauvignon Blanc. Yellow, with green flashes, clean and very bright. Good legs. On the nose fresh, intense tropical fruit notes, almost jammy. In the mouth rich ripe fruit is balanced with good acidity, the wine is satisfying and with a long finish. For me this is a wine to lay down and drink in 5 years or so when it will be better balanced and more honeyed.

Tantum Ergo Brut Nature.

Fourth was the Bassus Pinot Noir 2010. I had not tasted this wine since the DO´s bloggers tasting in 2010. Cherry red with a violet edge, long legs. On the nose cherry, blackcurrant and liquorice, whilst in the mouth full fruit, jam, concentration, caramel and a hint of coffee cream from the 10 months spent in oak. A very distinct wine from the only parcel of Pinot Noir in the DO.

Finally we tasted the 2009 Bassus Premium, a blend of Bobal, Cabernet Sauvignon , Merlot, Shiraz and Petit Verdot. Very deep black cherry, intense with long slow legs. On the nose red fruits, wood fruits, oak, vanilla and balsamic notes. In the mouth rich and very full bodied, smoky, red fruits, jam, long satisfying finish…a blockbuster!

A very interesting visit to yet another bodega which is quite different , reflecting the personalities of the owners and a very personal wine-making style. Well  worth a visit, the bodega has limited open days or  by appointment. www.bodegashispanosuizas.com/

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