Tag Archives: Masia de la Hoya

Viver, Castellon. 15th Olive Oil and Artisan Products Fair.


Viver Olive Fair

 

I love this time of year! After a fairly quiet May because other business committments got in the way of writing blogs, June looks like being a corker of a month! What better way to start than with a visit to nearby Viver, to experience the fifteenth Olive oil and Artisan Products Fair.
I was last in the small town back in January on a visit to Bodega Ismael Sanjuan ( http://wp.me/p16pqB-Aw/ )

Then we only had time to visit the bodega, sadly this time I timed my visit badly and missed the tour of the olive oil and almond mill and Cooperative! However, these small town fairs which are traditionally held in the open air have a habit of keeping you busy well beyond the time that you think you need!

Parque de la Floresta.

Parque de la Floresta.

The setting is quite spectacular! A gorge in the centre of a small town, ( the Parque de la Floresta)  with a waterfall cascading through and over a green wall of vegetation and a fast flowing stream with lily and umbrella plants growing in the centre.

Either side the precariously built houses sit atop the rock faces and to either side of the stream below  the exhibitors put up a mixture of garden pergolas, boot-sale tents and market stalls on the flat ground.

Parque de la Floresta

Parque de la Floresta

The setting is cool, green and well….it has water in abundance! I havent seen this anywhere , never mind this close to Valencia! You could close your eyes and imagine yourself in an English country town with neat stone walls, manicured hedges and exhibition trees.

At one of the first stalls I encountered Ismael Sanjuan, president of the Castellon Province Indication of Geographical Protection for its wines. He is also President of the Olive Oil Coop. He was talking to some of the other locals who are dedicated to reviving the wine making tradition of the town which died out after phylloxera. He explained that most of the towns houses had small bodegas underneath them and the group were displaying   traditional implements such as wicker baskets for collecting the grapes and transporting them from the high terraced slopes by donkey back to the growers houses.

Lagrima Oil

Lagrima Oil

The town has a varied agricultural history… after the grapes went they were replaced by Olives and Almonds and today the Coop handles all of this….but it is the olive oil winning the prizes, the Lagrima and Vivarium brands both being excellent examples of Virgin Extra oils.

The town also has a tradition of growing other crops, wheat and corn for flour and beans, peppers, artichokes, tomatos and peppers amongst others. This is often done on a small-scale family by family basis and certainly is not extensive farming. It is helping the town with its unemployment problem though as quality produce sells well here.

Artichokes, Tightly closed and Freshly Picked!

Artichokes, Tightly closed and Freshly Picked!

Within the fair this was reflected with the first stalls selling trays of tightly packed local artichokes and cherries…the tomatos too were local except those from El Perello! As I walked up the hill into the fair a steady stream of fair goers were leaving carrying trays between them!

Artisan Cured Meats and Sausages.

Artisan Cured Meats and Sausages.

Going beyond here there were butchers with stalls groaning with cured meats and sausages! One can spend a fortune on these stalls as they sell traditional bacon, home cured and ready to be sliced (pancetta) tocino ( big chunks of fat used in Cocidos) sobrasadas, fuets, chorizos, sweet or picante,  longanizas, various styles of morcillas, some for cooking and others for slicing, blanquets and much more!!!!

Cecina and Lomo Curado.

Cecina and Lomo Curado.

 

Of course there were two bodegas present as well. Masa de la Hoya, the nearby bodega from Segorbe were showing four wines including a bone dry rosado from a blend of Tempranillo, Merlot and Syrah. Probably the best wine on show was the Orero Selecion.

Masia De La Hoya Wines

Masia De La Hoya Wines

Next door there were the cheese producers of La Cartuja and next to them the artisan Real Ale brewery. La Vidigonera is the brand name for the bottle fermented Montanejos ale, 5.1% ABV and made from water, malt, hops and yeast only. The beer is fresh, golden in colour and the hops and malts are separately marked in  the mouth after a fruity nose and floral primary taste. Slightly cloudy but don’t let this put you off…it is really easy to drink and went well with the cheeses on offer!!! http://www.lavidigonera.com

Artisan Ale

Artisan Ale

Moving around the fair the next stall I called at was that of the olive oil coop which produces and sells beauty products and wooden artefacts made from olive….there is little waste in this industry!

Across the path was the honey stall selling its varieties of honey with different floral bases, orange, lavender etc as well as Royal Jelly and pollen.

Local Honey

Local Honey

Beyond the stall with sweets and spun sugar there were plants for sale and a part of the park set aside for children to participate in activities organised for them.

A second Bodega was also showing two wines, ( Vega Palancia) and the younger red wine was fruity, full and easy to drink!

It is becoming traditional now at fairs to have professional chefs giving masterclasses and this year Germán Carrizo and Carito Lourenço who are responsible for the cuisine at El Poblet and Vuelve Carolina, Quique Dacosta´s Michelin starred restaurants were playing to a packed audience in the area set aside.

Show Cooking!

Show Cooking!

This was however beautifully counterpoised by the Housewives association who prepared traditional bunuelos and hand-made crisps to order as well as Ajoaceite ( alliolli)  which was being made by pestle and mortar with a strong wrist action before being served on bread!!

And there is modern fast food as well…this year you could buy kebabs prepared with beef and/or chicken served in durum bread with salad and guindilla peppers! What is Spain coming too!!!

Aloaceite or Alliolli...made traditionally!

Aloaceite or Alliolli…made traditionally!

Of course there was much more over the 2 days of the fair but 5€ kept me occupied for the four hours of the morning session I was there…..and I have a couple of traditional local recipes to master in Alcochofas a la Montillana ( pork fillet braised in white wine with garlic and chalotas…a type of red onion) with artichokes and a dessert of tart made with apricot and cherry , the pastry being made from potato flour and lard with yeast……………..

Cannot wait for the next fair!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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A Visit to Bodega Masia de la Hoya, Segorbe, IGP Castellon.


Masia Hoya

Guzman Orero Clavero was the first wine-maker from Castellon that I met….some three years ago now. At the time I was struck by the enthusiasm he had for what then was an emerging revival of a historically important wine-making tradition in Castellon and the quality of his own wines from the Masia de la Hoya. I have met him three or four times since and he has always been keen to talk about progress and bringing wines from Castellon up to  IGP status, the step before full Denomination of Origin ( D.O.)

The last time we met was in Benlloch in March at the local agricultural fair ( see archives March 24 2013). Following a tasting of four of his current wines I was keen to visit the bodega for myself and Guzman, who has always pointed out that the bodega is not geared up for wine-tourism, suggested I come in May when the vines were in bud.

Deposits in the Bodega.

Deposits in the Bodega.

Yesterday I had the privilege to visit the bodega on the outskirts of Segorbe, the vineyards in the hidden valley in the hills and the offices in the centre of town.

I could not fail to feel the sense of history, the  co-incidences over centuries as Guzman described his and previous owners experiences as we toured the property.

The working part of the bodega is opposite the family garden nursery run by his sister. The Masia de la Cruz is an ancient site with an old bodega on it. Historically it was a place for waggoners to rest their horses on their long journeys….the `Cruz´element having nothing to do with the church on this occasion. For all that Guzman works here on his wines in cramped conditions, the yard is full of very modern wine-making equipment including a peristaltic pump and high level sorting table…………the press also being at a higher level allowing the waste to be dropped directly into trailers to avoid cleaning-up after the harvest……a good ergonomic practice!

Here Guzman also has a small barrel park, laboratory, equipment store and bottling line but once  bottled the wines are labelled in the offices as there is no room for that part of the equipment in the bodega! Here he explained how he had started, full of hope, in 2004 and the crop was almost ruined by severe hailstorms. An agricultural engineer by trade and a newly qualified  enologist he was left to salvage what he could and spent the year with three small deposits experimenting with fermentation, developing flavours etc. From these lessons came Orero Seleción his top wine.

Guzman in the Barrel Park.

Guzman in the Barrel Park.

In the barrel park he showed us the Syrah quietly ageing in a mixture of Limousin, Vosges, American and Rumanian oak, 4-5 year old barrels where it will remain until it has been there two years. Next year he hopes to invest in new barrels.

From here he took me to the vineyards, in a natural valley surrounded by high wooded hills, overlooked by the ancient Masia de la Hoya. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited with glimpses through gaps in the hills to more Northern parts of Castellon province. In the base of the valley neat rows of Monastrell, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha and Merlot stand out, each row with its marker identifying variety, clone and year of planting between 2002 and 2005. The soil is easy draining clay without too much stone despite the run-off from the high hills. The plan is to plant more vines to bring the current 14 hectares up to 25 in total.  All the varieties are red, homage to his father who loved red wine! Guzman explained the reason for planting the vines at half-metre intervals in double espalda. The trick was one he learnt from the Perez family of Clos Martinet  and ensures the bunches of grapes are small and loose bunched which generally gives fresh fruity wine with lots of colour.

The old Masia itself is in a state of part restoration. Guzman´s father had intended that the bodega would eventually move here in total and work on the Masia and the new facilities had commenced in 2009 but came to a stop on cost grounds later. Nonetheless part of the old chapel had been restored, part of the old building pulled down, exposing the old `lagars´where the grapes were trodden by foot, the new equipment shed and bottle store built into the hill below the Masia and the large water deposits, fed by a natural spring .

The old Masia.

The old Masia.

Inside Guzman told me were old wine tanks and evidence of a press.   Outside ancient table grape vines wound their way over the supports on a terrace and water from the natural spring gurgled into a `lavadero´before falling away in a conduit towards the bottom of the valley. In the back wall of the Masia sits the frame of the rose window in the chapel . This is the bodega´s logo.

Looking Over the Vines.

Looking Over the Vines.

Guzman explained that none of the history of wine-making was known when they bought the property. They had purchased it on the grounds that it would support fruit trees, in line with the family business run from Seville in which Guzman had worked for ten years before returning to Segorbe. However the local library turned up papers going back to 1884 from which it emerged the tenants renting the land had not paid their rent ( wine) to the local Catholic seminary for three years! The reason it turned out was that they had suffered from hail and permission was being sought from the Bishop to allow them to continue there. Further research showed wine was being made on the property as early as 1773. Guzman said he felt very at ease with his predecessors and the shared experience of the hailstorms in his first vintage.

Guzman Explains the Planting Policy.

Guzman Explains the Planting Policy.

We left the valley, somewhat reluctantly and I followed Guzman´s car back down the dirt tracks and under the old narrow railway bridges which would certainly stop tourist coaches ever getting to the property! We finished our tour in the old offices in the centre of town where I selected some wines for an upcoming tasting.

Tasting notes for the wines appear in my 24 March blog. Suffice it to say they are excellent and a testament to the enthusiasm and skill of this personable and particular wine-maker under whom the bodega will undoubtedly continue to grow as long as sales of wine continue and time is not diluted by his role as Secretary of the Terres de Castellon group of wine makers.

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