Tag Archives: VÍ vid

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.

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Craft Ales from Brooklyn (NY) hit Valencia!


 


Craft Ales (US), Real Ales(UK) or Cervezas Artesenales ( Spain), call them what you like, are now very much the fashion wherever you are. Here in Valencia we even have our own annual competition for breweries within the Valencian Community called the `Lupulo d´Oro, ´organised by Chema Ferrer a journalist at `Las Provincias´ newspaper.

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VÍ vid are currently jury members for this competition and from time to time we put the wine glasses down and go to visit a brewery and enjoy a `real ale´ tasting. Why `real ale´? Because the beer undergoes a fermentation in the bottle or deposit and remains in contact with its yeasts which add body and flavour to the finished product.
Last Thursday evening `Tyris on Tap´, the central Valencia outlet for the Riba Roja based brewery `Tyris´gave its space over to the Brooklyn (NY) brewery´s beers. Rob Capitelli, described as a craft ale pioneer and the brewer at this historical brewery, was over from the States with his beers at the Barcelona Beer Festival. He had been invited to Valencia to enjoy some of our Spring culture ( Fallas) and thoughtfully persuaded owner Gonzalo Abia Diaz to let him bring some beers as well!
Good move. We tasted four guest `ales´ during the evening.
The first was a lager, but much darker in colour being a pale amber. Fermented at low temperature for about three weeks with toasted malts it is `dry hopped´after the process allowing the flavours to steep into the ale. With a lot of brioche on the nose it was fresh, full bodied but very pleasant with its bitter hop finish.
Second ale was Brown Ale. A darker amber colour with a good consistent and persistent creamy crown, it had a hoppy floral nose with citrus notes and a well balanced body and bitter finish.
Fruity would be the best way to describe the third ale, `Pumpkin´ which also had a good crown. Its nose was fruity, and it had a long full fruity complex refreshing finish.
All these ales were around 5%ABV
The last, a Porter style was a dark black ale. ` Black Chocolate Porter´was a healthy 10% ABV with a good crown, smoky nose redolent of a light `marmite´. This took me back to the good old days, drinking barley wines such as Hardy´s Ale from the now defunct Eldridge Pope brewery in Dorset ( 11.7%ABV and with a life expectancy of 30 years).
This was deep, creamy with a very full body and lots of flavours. Our favourite ale on the night!
Tyris´s initiative in setting up a central Valencia bar has led to other brewers taking up the theme. Now `guest´craft ales are coming as well, albeit for a short period.

Tourists in the know now flock to the `Tap, ´ many on guided tours to taste the excellent range of beers from Valencia´s pioneering brewery.  Good luck exporting  your beers to the UK!

Tyrisrange

The `Tyris´ Range.

 

Coopera Sumiller Seleccion 2015, A Huge Step!


Coopinvite

 

In a very interesting and most enjoyable ceremony involving music and poetry six of Valencia´s best Cooperative Bodegas introduced twenty new wines to an invited audience in the `Merchants Palace´ in Calle Caballeros.

The Organisers

The Organisers

The event was organised by the Federation of Valencian Sumillers (FASCv) , whose President Mari Lu Martin had invited VÍ vid  to participate, and the Coop Federation responsible for agricultural and food products whose HQ the palace is. It commenced with an opening welcome from Mari Lu and Vicent Insa of the Coop Federation.

VÍ vid, Ready for the tasting

VÍ vid, Ready for the tasting

 

The sumilleres took their places and a tasting, tutored by the representatives of the individual  bodegas commenced with Pablo Cortés of the Moixent Coop, San Pedro Apostol, and three wines from their Clos de la Vall  range. And what a start it was, beginning with one of VÍ vid´s favourite white wines, the oak aged Pedro Ximenez. This wine from a variety associated with sweet wines from Jerez, is a pale gold colour but it is on the nose and in the mouth that it shines! One of the most complex noses I have come across has citrus fruit, white flowers, citrus and tropical notes followed in the secondary notes after swirling the glass by honey, figs acacia, dried fruit, nuts vanilla and orange blossom ( orange). It does not disappoint in the mouth either with its ripe fruits, complexity of flavours and a round very long finish.

Mari Lu Martin and Vicent Insa introduce Pablo Cortes

Mari Lu Martin and Vicent Insa introduce Pablo Cortes

 

This was followed by the Clos de la  Vall Tinto Negre a blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Monastrell. Deep cherry red with good glycerinous legs, the nose is full of blackcurrant, cherry and güindas, ( a type of cherry preserved in alcohol) and marmalade. 6 months in barrica gives this wine good  fruit, easy tannins, hints of güindas ( from the Monastrell) and it is a perfectly balanced , rounded wine with a long finish.

 

Finally from this bodega came the Clos de la  Vall Vino Autor from the local Mandó variety. 10% of the wine is Monastrell and it is a deeper black cherry colour than the previous wine. Smoother on the nose and lighter this has hints of morello cherry on the nose. It is a variety which needs care during the growing season and is generally better with ageing in French oak, and this wine repays that care with its slightly rustic finish, a distinct very pleasant wine.

Maria Angeles, La Viña

Maria Angeles, La Viña

Next came Maria Angeles from La Viña whose wines we are very familiar with and very happy to use in tastings. We started with the single variety Juan de Juanes Petit Verdot which has had eight months in second use oak. This gives the wine a softness and less harsh effects from the wood, notable on the nose which has fresh red fruit and blue flowers ( violet), a meaty mouthful, well-integrated and balanced wine.

Petit Verdot, La Viña

Petit Verdot, La Viña

The Icono Special Selection 2013 is a blend of Tempranillo, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha Tintorera and Monastrell with ageing in French and American Oak. Another deep black cherry wine with mature  fruits, floral notes on the nose and in the mouth mature black and red fruit against a background soft tannins. Another wine with a long finish.

Finally we tasted the Venta del Puerto 12, one of the bodegas flagship wines with Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah  and  Merlot, blended and then aged in oak. The wine is cardinal red, with a fruity but very pleasant oaky nose dominated by blackberry and blackcurrant fruit in the mouth. Very well-balanced and a very competitive price for the quality.

Joan Pico. Baronia de Turis

Joan Pico. Baronia de Turis

Joan Picó, Technical director from Baronia deTuris was the next to present the new wines from this Bodega. We had been invited to the press launch for these wines last week, aimed at the restaurant trade and a departure for the bodega better known for supermarket wines.

We were impressed by the new Son dos Dias 2015 a fresh dry Moscatel, pale yellow, with a fresh aromatic nose of apricot , lychee and mango and in the mouth light, fresh, expressive which opens out leaving a fuller long apricot fruit finish.

Notetakihg

Note taking.

Henri Marc is the name of their new brand for monovarietal reds from vines planted around 15 years ago. The bodega is famed for its traditional wines but they too are stepping out of this mold to experiment with quality wines. The first of two was a Syrah. This is a variety which generally grows at about 650m and more above sea level and needs the temperature changes between night and day to function at its best. These vines are planted in the Valencian hinterland at about 350m where the difference in temperatures is far less marked. However, the bodega has achieved a wonder with this wine. Very good red fruit, forest fruits and a touch of minerality in the nose, in the mouth an explosion of fruit with smooth tannins and a long fruity finish.

Second wine from the range is the Merlot, a touch more classic than the Syrah. A very short period in French oak has given this wine a roundness, damson, plum, deep fruit but  not too mature. In the mouth the variety grown here can give a bitter finish. This wine avoids that with a nice oaky finish.

Eva from Bocopa.

Eva from Bocopa.

From Bocopa, the DO Alicante bodega producing 70% of the province production came five wines. First was the classic Marina Alta dry Moscatel, consistent every year, and a very popular wine to accompany seafood dishes.

The second wine was the Marina Alta Espumoso, a 7%ABV sparkler made in the traditional way and with natural fermentation. I love this wine, it is fresh, very approachable has a very distinct nose that is initially like fresh asphalt , then herbs, fennel and in the mouth has lovely fruit, lively bubbles….. and is as refreshing as a chilled beer. Love it!

Third wine was a Chardonnay, pale gold in colour from a run of just 11,000 bottles and a departure from the bodegas normal style. Marked in the nose by its brioche, bread, patisserie overlaying tropical fruit in the mouth it displays nice Chardonnay characteristics in the French Challonaise style. A worthy new addition to their range.

Sumilleres at Work

Sumilleres at Work

The Laudum Crianza is Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, garnet in colour and with mature fruit on the nose. In the mouth it has body and with good fruit and Vanilla and a long finish.

The Laudum Roble with its distinct columnar bottle  is a blend of Monastrell and Syrah aged in three different types of oak, French , American and Hungarian. Deep garnet in colour and violet at the edge it is pure jam on the nose, figs, dates and vanilla. On entry you note the oak but it is a very fresh, easy to drink with a deep creamy finish.

We are looking forward to getting to know these wines better at the Bodegas Valencia launch on tomorrow.

El Villar.

El Villar.

El Villar, the Cooperative from Villar de Arzobispo showed three wines from the basic Laderas range, popular in bars and restaurants across Valencia. The white is Merseguera with 30% Macabeo in the blend and has a fresh floral nose. in the mouth it is typically dry, with fresh fruit flavours and a long dry mineral finish.

The rosado is a blend, also. In this case Tempranillo with Bobal it is traditionally bright strawberry in colour, fresh strawberry and raspberry nose and typical fruity, bubblegum flavours, A light very easy drinking wine.

Finally the Tinto from Tempranillo was garnet in colour, forest fruit flavours and bramble fruit. Good fruit in the mouth, very round and quite full. Easy drinker.

Diego Morcillo, Coviñas.

Diego Morcillo, Coviñas.

Last but by no means least Diego Morcillo, technical Director of Coviñas showed three wines from  this Requena based Bodega who have been making great strides recently with innovative wines.

The Marques de Plata Brut Nature Cava is yellow with green flashes, small well-integrated bubbles and again has plenty of patisserie and brioche on the nose with white flowers and hints of fennel from the Macabeo. A really good attack in the mouth, smooth, with good volume, and a finish full of mature melon fruit.

The Al Vent Rosado 2014 is one of three wines in this range we regularly show in tastings. It has three months oak ageing which means, when it reaches it second year it has some body to keep it going. Many prefer their Bobal rosados fresh and fruity but this wine has class to go with it! Old rose in colour, it still has lots of fresh fruit but the oak gives it an elegance in the mouth.

Diego presents the cava

Diego presents the cava.

Adnos, the new Bobal Alta Expresion was introduced a year ago and we have followed its progress. It is a wine which amply shows the characteristics of the variety, Deep colour, cherry fruit, liquorice, chocolate both on the nose and in the mouth we love its depth . A fitting finish to a quality tasting.

This of course was only the first part of the evening. The sumilleres withdrew before the competition began. In the second part they were to be presented with one of the wines and using their notes had to identify the wine and write a professional tasting note.

For the record the wine was the Petit Verdot from La Viña and the competition was won by Javier Cantos, Sumiller at our favourite restaurant in Cullera, El Rincon de Faro, enhorabuena Javi!

The rest of the evening was taken up discussing with the bodega´s their new philosophies and aims for the future.

In the Presentatin.

In the Presentation.

If this was a blog about cooperative wines from France it would be very different. The reality is that there is a real purpose behind the philosophy currently in vogue here in Valencia. Firstly all the bodegas are moving more towards bottling wine rather than selling it in bulk although that will always be a source of income for them. Now the mood is to provide quality wines which show varietal characteristics and both satisfy the new market and the demands of a new range of younger wine drinkers.

Many of the new wines are single variety rather than blends but even the latter have their markets as well.

The tasting was interesting because it brought the cooperatives together with the sumillers who recommend their wines in restaurants etc FACSv are to be congratulated for this initiative and for us it was a rare opportunity to look at and compare what  forms the backbone of representative wines in the hostelry trade which tourists and other visitors are most likely to see and drink on a visit to Valencia.

Overall we would give these Coops a big thumbs up!

I’m sure VÍ vid will be enjoying closer relationships with these bodegas and playing our part in showing more of their wines in our forthcoming tastings.

 

 

 

 

Bodegas Vegamar Launch their 2015 Wines.


Vegamar Monovarietal Range.

Vegamar Monovarietal Range.

Yesterday lunchtime VÍ vid was invited by  Bodegas Vegamar, based in Calles in the Alto Turia district of DO Valencia, to the launch of the new wines from the 2015 vintage together with a new addition to their monovarietal range.

Technical Director Pablo Ossorio and winemaker Maripaz Quilez introduced the new Rosado made from Merlot as well as talking about developments at the bodega to the specialist press, including VÍ vid.

Pablo, whose second year this is as head of the bodega,  spoke of the progress which has been made highlighting the success in selling the majority of the 2014 vintage as well as the improvements which have been made to the wines from 2015.

Technical Director, Pablo Ossorio.

Technical Director, Pablo Ossorio.

2015 has seen a doubling of the production of grapes, not by increasing yield per hectare but by a combination of better weather and the fact that some newer plantings were now producing grapes for wine production.

The bodega´s introduction of monovarietals and their championing of the regional varieties Merseguera ( white wines ),  Garnacha Tintorera ( red wines )  and Moscatel  ( sweet wines) last year was partly experimental and lessons have been learnt. In particular this year they have tried specific yeasts for fermentation which can enhance the  aromas in the wine.

This technique has worked exceptionally well with the Merseguera which can at times have almost no bouquet ( or nose). With hints of almond and apricot kernels 2015 it is incredibly expressive on the nose with lots of floral and herbal notes, fresh and attractive. In the mouth it was an unctuous wine with good body and a lovely acidity, well-balanced and shows just what can be achieved with the variety.

The Vegamar Team.

The Vegamar Team.

The Sauvignon Blanc also had a very aromatic mediterranean nose for the variety, with tropical fruits as well as floral notes in abundance . In the mouth this was full and round, a big wine.

The third wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc with Moscatel. We have noted a number of white wines from the 2014 vintage made in this style, taking a classic dry variety and blending it with  aromatic notes. These wines are generally big and fruity on the nose but remain dry in the mouth, the art of the exercise being to get the percentage of the second variety correct so that it does not dominate the palate. Moscatel is a classic variety to acheive this but other bodegas use Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay to acheive a similar result. This wine fits the criteria with the freshness of the Sauvignon Blanc (68% ) on the nose and the aromatics of the Moscatel (32%) giving a very pleasant and complex bouquet. In the mouth the acidity was perfect and the wine is rich with a long full finish.

Merlot Rosado

Merlot Rosado

The new wine is a Rosado from the Merlot variety. This is a pale rose colour, very similar to the fashionable French rosés, though not onion skin in colour! On the nose the fruit coming from such a pale wine was remarkable. In the mouth the fruit and acidity combined perfectly to give quite a big , dry rosado that will match well with many dishes but would be very pleasant on its own. A perfect wine for the English market.

Vegamarteambottles

The first of the reds is also a pure Merlot and it was here the fruity aromas of the variety are immediately obvious. Plums, herbs and a touch of minerality on the nose were replicated perfectly in the mouth. It is a young wine, intended for drinking now and is certainly very characteristic of the variety.

The second red was a Garnacha Tintorera, a variety which also had started to die out as the vineyards of the Alto Turia from Lliria to the West were being grubbed up and replaced by oranges. We loved the colour, the bouquet which is at the same time fruity and spicy and which in the mouth was very well-balanced, the tannins smooth. This can be such a good variety and Vegamar can take credit for producing a wine which should be very popular.

Vivid.

Vivid.

To finish we also tried the bodega´s Moscatel, a variety which can be incredibly aromatic on the nose with apricot and peach fruit, but in the mouth can be fat and almost oily. This wine has preserved the aromatics but with a lighter touch in the mouth and more residual sugar which makes it more easily drinkable.

Vegamar can be rightly pleased with the 2015 vintage which has produced a selection of wines which as well as being immensely drinkable are a good price for the quality starting at 6€ a bottle.

´The best noses know us and recognise us.¨

 

 

 

Eating in El Saler (Valencia) ? VÍ vid Recommends Arroceria Estibador.


 

EstibadorLogo

South of Valencia, across the new river bed, ( built to avoid floods like those which caused death and destruction in the City in 1957) , is the Huerta Sud and the Albufera Natural Park. This very rural area is highly agricultural in its nature, here start the rice fields.

Most tourists exploring the area head straight for El Palmar famed for its restaurants.

However fewer know that the family friendly beaches at Pinedo and El Saler are also a good bet, or that there are several restaurants on the road running just behind the beach which separates it from the fields beyond. This stretch of beach and the two towns are just 10 minutes by car from the City of Arts and Sciences and a bus service also runs down this road.

Finding ourselves in El Saler this week we went to  L´Estibador, one of the restaurants which fronts right onto the beach.

From outside the temptation is to think it is another of the `chiringuitos´ for which Valencia´s beach front is famous. Any such thoughts disappear as you walk through the door into a very well-appointed reception area with views into the restaurant itself.

VÍ vid in the Chill-out bar

VÍ vid in the Chill-out bar

Inside a bright airy restaurant opens up, with well-appointed tables. We were shown first to a chill out area and offered aperitifs whilst we sat in comfy armchairs enjoying the views out onto the beach, the blue-green sea glistening and sparkling in the summer sunshine.

Overhead an ample number of fans kept the air circulating freely and our drinks cool but we were offered refreshers before moving to the table.

We had been greeted by the Restaurant Director and Somellier, Lester López Estrada and it was he who showed us to our table which looked straight out over the beach.

Lester López Estrada, Restaurant Director

Lester López Estrada, Restaurant Director

The restaurant offers both a set-price menu meal ( currently 22€) or an A La Carte menu with an average spend of just under 40€ a head.

Lester chose some dishes from the A la Carte option for us we and started with a take on a Valencian salad, with local Perello tomatos, anchovy, Boqueron and salazones shaved over the top. This was a fresh and appetising dish, top quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar being available to the taste of the individual diner, the sweet tomato contrasting well with the salty salazones and the fish.

Ensalada

Ensalada

With this we drank Menade Verdejo an organic white wine from Rueda which was fresh and clean and complemented the dish perfectly.

There are dishes which have to be tried, either because they contain your favourite ingredients or because they sound too good to be missed.

Carrying on with the `entrantes´, the next dish was  tuna, cooked at low temperature, aubergine colour in the centre but perfectly tender. This is served with a salsa and  emulsion ( pesto, a salsa  of garlic and almonds with pickled  onion and tomate confitada.) The combination of flavours and textures make this dish unforgettable.

Tuna

Tuna

Next we tried a signature dish Octopus from the Brassa . The Brassa is neither a barbecue nor a grill. It is a wood based fire over which food is cooked giving quite distinct flavours to the food , different to  charcoal. It is a very important part of Valencian gastronomy. The Octopus was accompanied by  papas arrugadas, an emulsion of piquillo peppers, served with a garnish of crumbs of aubergine and black garlic. Again, the octopus was perfectly tender matching well with the textures and flavours.

Octopus

Octopus

With this we drank an Albariño, Pazo  Barrantes, voluptuous, citrus, floral with pears. Elegant with a long finish.

Our fourth entrante was foie,  on a panettone base with a confit. This was sweet, concentrated and a perfect way to prepare for the main course to come.

Foie mi-cuit

Foie .

The wine chosen to accompany this was from Lanzarote, a white blend of Malvasia and Moscatel from Bermejo. It is some time since I have tasted white wine from Lanzarote, a former favourite holiday destination. This wine was aromatic and fresh on the nose. In the mouth it was complex and spicy, but not so full or rich that it competed with the foie. Excellent choice and probably the best of the three whites!

Paella

Paella

Our main course was an arroz, rodaballo and gambas. In season it is served with ajos tiernos ( green garlic) .

The key to all seafood rices is getting the stock right first in which the rice is cooked. In this case a bigger paella pan is used with a thinner depth of rice. The stock is built up in stages by adding the ingredients and concentrating the natural flavours. It is however more difficult to obtain a good socarrat as the difference in cooking time between this and burning the rice is minimal! This dish was superb, it was a combination of flavours to die for and the first time I had had turbot cooked this way. A Repetir!

The wines

The wines

As we ate we spoke  to Lester about the wine selection. All the wines we had tasted were from outside Valencia but the wine list contained a good selection of Valencian wines. He explained that the restaurant enjoys a mixed clientele and at times when local families are predominating then many local wines are sold. But they also have a lot of visitors from the rest of Spain who know the wines much better from Rioja and Ribero del Duero for example. He aims to satisfy all tastes although he conceded that more Valencian wines could be sold with recommendation.

We were also joined by Nuria Sanz who owns and runs the restaurant with her mother and family. She explained that they had tried many of the local rices that make up the base for their dishes but had decided the local Bomba variety was the best, being consistent and of a high quality.

With Nuria Sanz

With Nuria Sanz

For Nuria, her clients always come first and her philosophy is that they should be treated as if they were in her home.

We moved on to dessert, an ice cream ravioli with carpaccio of pineapple, very elegant!

Ravioli and carpaccio

Ravioli and carpaccio

This was served with Casta Diva Moscatel Miel, a highly concentrated wine from DO Alicante.

Finally, with the coffee we were introduced to Chef Pascual Leydet who explained his philosophy was to use the traditional  cuisine of the seaside but with modernist touches. We had no doubt that this was being fully achieved.

We can only recommend this restaurant very highly. Attention to detail was perfect. Plates, knives and forks were changed with every dish, the tablecloths and knapkins and glasses were all of high quality.

For the waiting staff nothing was too much to do for the customer.

This was one of the best dining experiences we have had and we will be going back!

 

 

 

 

 

IGP Castelló Show Their Wines in Peñiscola.


Peniscola

 

With a session for professionals from the wine, hotel and restaurant trade and the specialist press on Monday morning and two afternoon sessions, Monday and yesterday  for the public,  IGP Castelló took its wines to Peñiscola.

Indication of Protected Geography is the way in which the EU currently designates new wine areas and despite its long history of wine-making Castellon province is recovering from a 20th century that all bar destroyed the vineyards.

IGP is often seen as a route to obtaining full Denominación de Origen ( DO ) status and this is certainly the aim of bodegas which make up the IGP.

Led by Ismael Sanjuán Monzonis ( President) and Guzman Orero ( Secretary) the IGP has quietly been working its way through the complicated procedures with around 12 of the bodegas in the province. There are more bodegas but not all are ready or able to meet the standards required yet.

Guzman Orero, Masia de la Hoya and Secretary to the IGP.

Guzman Orero, Masia de la Hoya and Secretary to the IGP.

The bodegas in question have all submitted wines for analysis and their production methods have been scrutinized with success leaving the powers in Brussels to fix a date for DO Status to be awarded.

All of this enjoyed the support of the outgoing politicians in the agriculture and tourism departments and hopefully their successors from local elections held recently will continue that.

Ricardo´s blog discovered some of the wines of Castellon originally at the annual wine fair held in Valencia´s dry river bed 5 years ago ( organised by Proava) . Subsequently VÍ vid has been following the progress of the IGP generally and much more specifically the individual bodegas, making regular visits to several to taste wines from the cask or deposit, pre-bottling and subsequently on release. We hope to spend one day at one of our favourite Castellon bodegas picking this years harvest.

Professionals at the Inauguration.

Professionals at the Inauguration.

The IGP has shown its wines regularly in Castellon city, firstly in the Old Casino and subsequently in a local park where they have combined the wine fair with artisan food products .

This fair in Peñiscola was a deliberate attempt by the IGP, (many of whose bodega´s have small production and thus sell their wines to local restaurants) , to improve knowledge of their healthy and quality products.

The morning session was dedicated to introducing this local hostelry trade to the wines and cheese etc to the North of Castellon. Apart from the hostelry trade, bloggers and the local TV company attended.

TV Mediterraneo at Baron D ´Alba.

TV Mediterraneo at Baron D ´Alba.

VÍ vid´s relationships with the producers are well documented with visits to the towns of  Les Useres, Segorbe, Vivers, Vilafamés, Castellon and to individual bodegas such as Roques Negres, Mayo-Garcia, Flors, Baron D´Alba, Mas de Rander, Masia de la Hoya, Ismael Sanjuan , Besalduch  y Valls amongst others, all of which have their own blog post in the archives.

During  the inauguration of the fair by the mayor of Peñiscola, Andrés Martinez, he exalted the local quality produce and said `it should be considered normal to order them in local restaurants and to recommend them to visiting tourists´.

Sergio Rodríguez, Sumiller

Sergio Rodríguez, Sumiller

The press etc then moved upstairs to the Council chamber where an informal tasting of some of the wines on show had been planned. This was opened by Guzman Orero who invited Sergio Rodríguez , Nariz de Bronce in the 2014 competition, to introduce the session. Sergio is sumiller at Restaurante de Mediterraneo del Grao in Castellon. He too spoke of the natural inclination to recommend local quality wines to accompany food served in Castellon´s restaurants. He also spoke a little about Castellon´s distinguished wine history and in particular how their  wines were originally present in the top hotels throughout Argentina.

Each of the eight bodega´s attending then introduce a wine for tasting.

We started with Guzman Orero´s Syrah from Masía de la Hoya. 13.5% ABV with 12 months in different oak barrels. We rated this very highly, a medium bodied cherry red wine with long glycerinous legs. Elegant cherry fruit nose, soft oak and smooth tannins in the mouth, this is a rich, round ripe wine with a lovely long finish.

Second wine was the 2013 Syrah, Alvaro Gil from Bodegas TorreGil. This is a new bodega to us, a bodega which has arrangements with other bodegas for the elaboration, storage and bottling of their wines. A little lighter in colour, garnet even, it has had 10 months in French oak. On the nose ripe fruit, almost brambly, mature fruit, in the mouth it was a sensation! A very nice fruity , easy drinking red with real class. We hope to meet the owner again next week to learn more about this `bodega´and its wines!

Wines from DiVinos y Viña

Wines from DiVinos y Viña

The next wine was an `Odisea´ from Bodegas De Vinos i Viñas. This Segorbe based bodega has so far eluded a visit from us and when Tofol and Carmina return from the Baleares where they also have vines, we will catch up with them! The wine was Odisea 2014 Bonicaire, Ull de llebre and Cabernet Sauvignon. The first variety is found very rarely, we have encountered it in the Alto Turia and Terres dels Alforins of DO Valencia as well as in Castellon. Well made , often into Rosado it is excellent. The second variety is the local name for Monastrell. This wine was much brighter, younger and deeper in colour. Bramble fruit, tobacco leaf, but ripe fruit. Tannins kicked in after an easy pass and for us this needed a little more time in bottle. Good wine though!

Next we tasted the L ´Alcalaten , Bodegas Les Useres 86 Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon  with 12 months in American oak. This from the bodega which is not a coop but had 86 growers who founded it, hence the name! A younger , fresher fruitier wine, the fruit on the nose almost sweet and concentrated. In the mouth smooth, brambly fruit, Tempranillo at its best.

Wines from Bodegas Les Useres.

Wines from Bodegas Les Useres.

Juan Domingo Tarrega whose bodega this is has had much advice and consultancy from Michel Poudou, the legendary french wine-maker who also used to look after Chozas Carrascal. Mas de Rander, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah from Benlloch , 14.5% ABV is a big wine in every sense. Intense black cherry, opaque and with long slow glycerinous legs. On the nose, fruit, liquorice, and oak. In the mouth very big, round , smooth tannins and a very long finish. Can´t wait to taste the newer vintages from deposit and cask!

Juando Tarrega, Mas de Rander.

Juando Tarrega, Mas de Rander.

The Clotàs Tempranillo (with 15% Cabernet Sauvignon) from Bodegas Vicente Flors is another big wine at 14% +ABV. Vicente is one of our favourite bodegueros. This genial ex-bank manager will spend hours patiently explaining wine-making techniques and given that he did not come to this business till he retired and took over a derelict family building and recovered the vineyards his reputation is awesome!

Bodegas Flors.

Bodegas Flors.

 

Intense, deep, opaque black, very  black cherry colour. On the nose this wine is redolent of very mature fruits of the forest, violet floral notes and spice, cinnamon, clove and vanilla.

In the mouth dry, well-balanced, lots of fruit with chocolate and roasted coffee in a long finish.

On what was a very hot day we were to end with two whites.

The first was the Baron, D´Alba Gewurztraminer/ Viognier 2014. We tasted and commented on this wine just six weeks ago when we visited on one of our tasting tours. The wine was ready to be bottled. All I am going to say is that this white is floral and fruity on the nose, with huge aromatic depth. In the mouth it is huge , full of citrus, white fruit such as apricot, spice, mandarine peelings. The acidity is perfectly balanced…this is heading to be our best white wine of 2015!

Victor Bellmunt Introduces his Brut Espumoso.

Victor Bellmunt Introduces his Brut Espumoso.

Finally Victor Bellmunt showed his Ildum Vinarius Espumoso de Castellon, Bellmunt and Oliver Brut from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Cabanes made in the traditional manner with 15 months in rima. This wine won the silver prize at the recent Proava cava and Espumosos fair.

IGP Bodegueros and their Wines.

IGP Bodegueros and their Wines.

 

 

On the nose this wine has ripe green apple and patisserie. With evolution there is a touch of tropical fruit, pineapple. In the mouth full, rich, appley, creamy and fresh. A very long finish lacking only a little depth in the bubbles.

Following the tasting we visited the artisan cheese company Tot de Poble some of whose products we had recently tasted with white rioja wines.

Also showing were Guadirium, an internet based shop selling jamones and salchichones, several of which we tried.

Cutting Jamon , Guadirium.

Cutting Jamon , Guadirium.

KM0 were selling a range of artisan beers and cheeses from Cati and several of the bodegueros were now trying the craft ales, the heat having finally got to them!

KM0 with Cheeses from Cati

KM0 with Cheeses from Cati

Magistratus were showing a similar range of fruit and vegetable marmalades which are becoming incredibly popular here with cheese plates and local artisan breads.

We hope the public sessions have gone as well. This was a sensible initiative which has attracted a lot of publicity…hopefully it has increased knowledge of the wines and gourmet foods from Castellon not just around Peniscola but more widely!

VÍ vid Tasting in Peñiscola.

VÍ vid Tasting in Peñiscola.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

New wines awaiting lables!

New wines awaiting lables!

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

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

The white awaiting despatch!

The white awaiting despatch!

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

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

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

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

The Rosado, Vibrant!

The Rosado, Vibrant!

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

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

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

 

The Syrah.

The Syrah.

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

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

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

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

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

he Bodega´s Presses.

he Bodega´s Presses.

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

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

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

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

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

Cheese Selection.

Cheese Selection.

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

VÍ vid and a very special selection of new wines!

VÍ vid and a very special selection of new wines!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Requena Sausage Fair 2015…More for the Visitor to See and Eat!!!!


Sausage Fair 2015Valencia´s gastronomy year traditionally commences in February with the Requena Sausage Fair….Muestra de Embutido Artesano y de Calidad de Requena. This year was the 22nd edition of the fair which is now firmly at home, indoors, in the towns Feria Recintal. On a cold mid-winter weekend with snow on the ground outside this was maybe welcome and certainly the fairs organisers have the layout sorted out so that at peak times there is sufficient room to move around. The organisers have also stepped up to the plate ( no pun intended) in reviewing activities and options for the visitor to this celebration of the products from the pig!

Some of the 25,000 visitors!

Some of the 25,000 visitors!

This year the committee behind the fair had thought very carefully about how to offer more, and it paid off, with 25,000 visitors over the three days and 12,500 kilos of sausages alone being eaten. It used to be the case when the fair was held in the streets that there was a hog-roast and the sausages were cooked over huge barbecues. That went a couple of years before the fair moved indoors but this year in exchange for one of the tickets purchased on entry you could once again enjoy chorizos, longanizas and morcillas cooked in the open air over the brassa.

Sausages on the Brassa!

Sausages on the Brassa!

Of course, the fair showcases more than these three sausages. In fact the CRIGP, (the governing body which controls, regulates  and promotes the protected sausages from Requena,) has seven products. The remaining four are güeñas ( a spicy longaniza) perro, ( a botifarra served cold) salcichon and sobrasada. At the launch of the fair the town´s mayor and the tourism minister ( respectively Xavier Berasaluce and Sebastien Fernandez) re-iterated that Requena has its own distinct gastronomy and that gastronomy as a whole is a key element in promoting the Valencian region as a whole. The traditional dishes from the interior of Valencia are every bit as important in attracting tourists as the seafood dishes of the coast and paella.

Sobrasada.

Sobrasada.

To spice up the visitor experience therefore the fair introduced some new elements. Local restaurants and bars have been involved for a couple of years in providing sample dishes at a parallel fair called Tasta la Dipu. The local cookery colleges have also been involved in cooking some of the plates with an emphasis on some of the traditional rice dishes such as `arroz de la matanza´. Similarly the towns housewive´s associations have provided some local tapas such as mortuerelo and ajo arriero. This year therefore the aim was not just to provide these dishes for the visitor to sample. Through the medium of `showcooking´ ( cookery demonstrations) filmed by the local TV crew and projected  live onto a huge screen the visitor was able to watch the preparation and creation of these famous plates.

Ajoarriero and Mortuerelo.

Ajoarriero and Mortuerelo.

Cristian Cubas, head chef at the town´s `Los Cubillos´ restaurant (itself a source of excellent traditional local dishes) gave a demonstration of how to prepare some of Requena´s local rice dishes using sausages as their main ingredient. Los Cubillos Requena also has good local producers of other healthy produce! This year for the first time, Spain´s only remaining ostrich farm, which is in the nearby hills, was selling burgers and steaks. The excellent local artisanal cheeses from Quesos Hoya de la Iglesia in nearby Campo Arcis were selling their products and the towns coffee producers and distributors Reke were providing an alternative to drink! As another alternative and a way of showing gastronomy from a different part of the community this year saw an innovative invitation to the Clochina del Mediterraneo. Clochinas are the very special mussels from the port of Valencia, grown on floating pontoons. The visitor was able to try steaming bowls of this tasty mollusc, or the famous red prawns from Denia ( if you have never tried these it is worth a pilgrimage just to savour the incredible depth of flavour from what are considered the best `gambas´ in Spain) or a rice dish with seafood and boletus all served by Chema Ferrer. Chema is another of Valencia´s genial newshounds who has a gastronomy bent, writing for Las Provincias ( Valencia´s major newspaper), running the weekly radio programme `Comer and Beber´  and producing video shorts for a new App ( Wines and Spirits TV ) amongst other projects. 2015-02-08 13.40.56 Now, of course Requena is home to another famous product, the wine region of Utiel-Requena! Seven bodegas had been invited to participate in the fair providing an opportunity to combine eating and drinking the regions products together! We took the opportunity to talk with Luis Miguel Latorre of Latorré Agrovinicola whose wines VÍ vid had shown earlier in the week at an English Language Tasting. Also exhibiting wines were Carlos Carcel who makes the only Bobal wine by the Maceration Carbonic method. We also enjoyed wines from the Coviñas Cooperative whose wines are widely available in the UK through Aldi and those of Ernesto Carcel ( El Rebollar) whose oak aged Macabeo is a perfect accompaniment to paellas.

Maceración Carbonica, Bobal, Carlos Carcel.

Maceración Carbonica, Bobal, Carlos Carcel.

For the first time the Cava producers Association were showing their products separately and we enjoyed a glass whist we ate some `Bollo´, the bread covered with the local sausages and bacon produced locally by the Associación de Panaderos Artesanos. Five of the towns sausage producers were on hand serving very generous tasting samples. In the press conference launching the fair the President of the IGP ( Mari Luz Pedrón ) had said that  visitors would receive a welcome with open arms! This edition of the fair certainly achieved that!

Cava.

Cava.

For those interested in attending next years fair, no doubt with more innovation, transport is easy from Valencia ( by car up the A3 ) or by train.  Those coming to the fair from Madrid or Valencia could use the fast train service ( AVE ) and enjoy a massive 60% discount on the fare price with free buses laid on to transport visitors to the fair or back to the station! Well worth a visit!!!! Although entry is free, to try all the samples you will need a ticket with 10 sub-tickets which you exchange for wine, sausages, bollo, etc.

Something to Look Forward to!!!!!

Something to Look Forward to!!!!!

Valencia and the Culture of Esmorzaret! Almuerzo in La Matandeta, Alfafar.


The Almuerzo Group!

The Almuerzo Group!

That social media is a powerful tool has not been in doubt for some time as its use in recent government elections has shown. But the same media has the effect sometimes of drawing attention to something which has been going on for a very, very long time and in Valencia that is the `almuerzo´or `esmorzaret´. Today, Facebook in particular seems to be full on a daily basis of pictures of the mid-morning meal so favoured by the Valencians. I well remember being amused, 11 years ago, when going for a coffee in the local bar after the shopping had been done. Sure enough it would be full of local people and travelling salesmen/ delivery staff etc, eating a long French style loaf of bread full of something which smelled good! This would be washed down by a glass of wine or  a beer and be accompanied by the local peanuts and olives.

Standard Almuerzo!

Standard Almuerzo!

Gradually we started to join in , maybe a bocadillo with jamon and tomato, or tortilla. It seemed incredibly good value as well at about 4€ a head and often was sufficient for lunch. There seem to be no hard and fast rules about almuerzo. You do not have to eat your chosen `filler´from the bread. It was perfectly acceptable to have a plate of sausages, or a `pincho´of tortilla on its own. All that seemed to be necessary was to pitch up to the bar anytime from about 10.00am and order what you wanted ( until lunch at 14.00pm took over). Gradually we learned to try the other `fillers´ on offer in our local and were rarely disappointed. Over the years my understanding of this traditional elevenses,  come `brunch´ is that not only are there no rules, there is an unlimited seasonal selection of fillers with many  regional variations. I am not even going to take a stab at telling you how old the tradition is. But I will explain how it appears as a new phenomenon and how there seems to be a huge `revival´spawned by the Facebook coverage! Every true Valencian will down tools at some point in the morning, they may not go to the bar but they will have something to eat and drink. This applies to everyone, there is no class element involved. Humble agricultural workers, bank staff or town hall employees all down tools and take a break. Chances are they will probably go to the same place regularly, meet the same people, talk about the issues of the day, catch up with Fb or twitter on their smartphones but they will all be having almuerzo!!

Inside La Matandeta

Inside La Matandeta

In the last few months one of the fastest growing groups on Fb has been `La Cultura del Almuerzo´. This group has not influenced the culture one iota! Bars have not changed their traditional dishes one little bit! No! But what has happened is that members of the group  photograph their food. The pictures are instantly uploaded to Fb and shared, very often together with a commentary on the quality and the price. Then other members of the group will visit when they are in the vicinity on business or, in exceptional circumstances make a big detour to try the latest recommendations! The group itself has started having collective almuerzos. The first held in the Terrace Cafe of MUVIM in central Valencia attracted around 50 people. The second in Meliana in the Horta Nord saw some 75 people go to the very traditional Barraca de Toni Montoliu and the third with over 110 adults and some younger `next generation´ almeurzistas descended on a windy Albufera Natural Park and specifically La Matandeta restaurant.

Some Modern Pottery in the Restaurant.

Some Modern Pottery in the Restaurant.

Rafa Galvez and Maria Dolores Baixauli are the current owners of a former livestock  farm converted some 24 years ago into a traditional restaurant serving the dishes from the South of Valencia. Today its agricultural shell has been converted into a superb `sala´decorated with replicas of traditional Valencian pottery and modern artworks. It is situated on the road between Alfafar and El Saler. Here the lake which is fed by rainwater and natural nutrients such as algae grows DO Valencia rice, the major  component of the paellas and arroces for which the restaurant is also widely respected. Not surprisingly , it was not in their best interests to provide bocadillos for all the guests. So the almuerzo took the form of a `menu degustacion´ where we all tried all of the plates which were on offer. photo(9) The peanuts  were replaced by a selection of modern style`crisps´ made from rice flour with rosemary and a second version with curry. The olives, home cured,  were too good to be replaced with an alternative! The bread, served throughout the meal was a mixture of traditional sticks, cheese or olive breads etc. There were also a salmuera of preserved vegetables, a salmorejo and  a hummus with cummin.

Octopus and onion

Octopus and onion

The `fillers´were represented by slow cooked artichokes stuffed with a salt cod sauce, a triangle of bread with baby sausages, chorizo and morcilla, a tomato salad with tuna in escabeche, baby broad beans cooked with lardons of jamon in a snail based stock, octopus cooked with onions and a pisto ( very like a Provencal ratatuoille) .

Baby Broad Beans and Salmoreja

Baby Broad Beans and Salmoreja

The dessert was a traditional coca ( sponge cake) with an excellent citric sorbet.

Dessert

Dessert

All of this was washed down with beer or a good Crianza Shiraz from Sebiran, the Requena bodega whose owner Ken Waggener is an enthusiastic almeurzista!! photo 1(51) The quality of food produced was superb and La Matandeta lived up to its reputation! The restaurant will organise almuerzos for groups by prior arrangement. Sadly the weekends weather was too windy for the planned boat ride around the Albufera but this was replaced by a  talk from Paco Bauxali whose knowledge of the history  of the gastronomy of the Albufera was fascinating.   Few for example would know about the many types of wild rice which eventually coalesced into todays well know speciality varieties, nor that it was all from Egypt, that the planting methods are very special and that historically the Templars (and the Knights of the Maestrat) sent moors to the Albufera because they were better at growing the rice! The discussion on eating the wild rats from the area is probably best passed over quickly! So, in conclusion, the phenomena which is Social media  has not changed the traditions. It  HAS almost certainly produced not only an increase in the interest in them but a boost for local restaurants and bars across Valencia serving them as aficionados and interested visitors understand more and seek out the best examples! Saborea, El Mundo´s publishing arm recently produced a helpful book written by Paco Alonso , Valencia´s crusading foodie journalist, #LaCulturaDelAlmuerzo.…which may just give you an idea where to find out more on Twitter!!! Cultura Almuerzo

The Long Climb to Ahillas….. A Visit to Bodegas Terra D´Art


 

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Our latest bodega visit ( and probably the last of what has proved to be a very  busy year) was sparked by  a book launch this week. `Sin Mala Uva ´ is a collaboration by journalist Ernesto Gallud, a number of wine-experts including Paco Higon of Verema and artist Inma Amo, both friends. The latter is  someone  whose wine related art, in a style reminiscent of the Bloomsbury set  , has been lighting up the wine world in Spain for a while now….particularly as the subjects are often on barrels or barrel tops!

The book is aimed very much at monovarietal wines  here in Spain, where frankly you are far more likely to hear someone ask for a bottle by region rather than by the  particular variety which it contains, ( unlike almost the entire remainder of the wine-world where variety is the starting point.)

Following the presentation of the book at the Valencia launch, held in the HQ of D.O. Valencia on Thursday last, there was the usual buffet and glass of wine. Amongst the wines was a new white from a bodega I did not recognise. Fortunately not only did we get to try it, we met the owner and winemaker from the Bodega.

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The wine was from a single variety ,  Merseguera, an auctoctonal variety of D.O. Valencia . It is best known for being grown in the Alto Turia, the furthest part of the Interior from Valencia up the river Turia,  but it will also be found blended in the more southerly part of the D.O. , the Clariano around Xativa, Ontinyent,  the Val D´Albaida and the Terres dels Alforins.

These two parts of the D.O. could not be more contrasting. The Alto Turia is mountainous, motorways have not reached these parts and the vineyards are anything from 800 to 1200 metres above sea level. The soils are stony and sandy. The Clariano is more valley floor based viticulture with chalky soils. Temperatures here can be 8-10º higher than in the Alto Turia and picking is often over before it starts in the Alto Turia!

To reach the Alto Turia you take the CV 35 west from Valencia city. Around Casinos, with its Cooperative bodega dedicated to Santa Barbera dating to 1952, the motorway changes suddenly from dual carriageway to single track and by Loso d´obispo you start to enter the mountainous region and the climb begins.

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Past Calles the next town is Chelva 68km from Valencia and here you take a right turn in the centre of town for the Santuario del Remedio and the hamlet  of Ahillas. The Santuario holds the statue of the Virgin which is carried down to Chelva, from the Pico de Remedio, some 1050m in height and 5km in distance in Fiesta time. This is a road with hairpin bends and steep, tight turns in abundance.

This is not a road to stop and admire the view from but, if you did and looked back towards Valencia, the Turia appears as a shining silver ribbon, shimmering in the heat haze below!

The vineyard closest to the Bodega.

The vineyard closest to the Bodega.

When you reach Ahillas, after a  further 7km, the terrain has changed. Here the `parcelas´ of terrain are laid out more like fields and the houses have that alpine dry stone wall look. Some 12 people live here, a mixture of Scots, French ,  Danes and  the occasional Spaniard.

This is also the home to Bodegas Terra D´Art, a new  project comprising of Juan José Martinez Palmero, his wife, father and other family members. The bodegas vineyard parcels are between 850 and 1150m above sea-level and comprise a number of traditional and rarely found varieties on plots which Juanjo as the vine grower is recuperating.  His training was in the Bordeaux vineyards of St Julien, St Emilion and  Ibiza.

He currently farms totally ecologically, operates a very strict pruning and selection policy which will allow no more than half the grapes the vines could produce. This ensures concentrated grapes of high quality in years when the weather allows it and a very small production!

  • The varieties he currently grows are Merseguera ( white),
  •   ( in red ) Tinto de Toro , synonymous with Tempranillo and which survived Phylloxera in Castillo and Leon,
  • Bobal,  the variety of nearby D.O. Utiel-Requena,
  • Prieto Picudo, a variety found more in the provinces of  Zamora and Leon,
  • Juan Garcia, another variety found in Zamora and Salamanca.
  • Mencia,  a variety found in Galicia and mainstay of Bierzo wines,
  • Graciano, a Riojan variety, ( but also grown in the Clariano at Heretats dels Taverners) ,
  • Maturana,  a Riojan varietal undergoing a comeback,
  • Monastrell, the variety grown widely in Alicante,
  • Garnacha, widely grown.
With Juanjo Martinez Palmero

With Juanjo Martinez Palmero

Although the family have been producing wine for some ten years the bodega was only constructed and completed a couple of years  back, a modern block built building , rendered and painted in the sandstone colour of the area. It consists of a fermentation room at ground level with modern , small, stainless steel deposits and a tasting room which doubles up as the shop, whilst below you will find the crianza area and bottling area. The former has its own well.

Opposite the bodega is the family home. Currently the bodega can produce around 10,000 bottles from 12,000  vines and has four wines although currently only a white and rosado are available, the tinto only just having been bottled and the top wine Maldito, which is only produced in the best years  is in barrica.

Juanjo gave us a tour of the facility before we tasted three of the wines. The bodega itself, consistent with its size is a large garage but spotlessly clean with its terracotta red walls, the deposits standing out, bright and shiny.

Painted Barrel Tops from Inma Amo.

Painted Barrel Tops from Inma Amo.

The soils in the vineyards outside are a sandy red gravel with lots of stone in. Juanjo explained that the soils were no more than 20cm deep in places and poor in nutrition. However the altitude and the soils support the vines which produce quality grapes seem to suit the different varieties.

Downstairs, past the examples of Inma Amo´s painted barrel tops you reach the bottling room. ( The art is entirely appropriate as the hamlet is an artist colony). Here the designer labels are hand placed on the bottles after the hand bottling and corking process is completed….there is no shiny expensive bottling plant here!

Hand Corking Machines.

Hand Corking Machines.

Opposite is the crianza room where 11 barrels, each of 225 litres share the space with the well and the bottles undergoing ageing or awaiting labelling.

Here he explained that vinifying each variety separately was not entirely feasible as there were such small amounts of some of them. The French casks contained a blend therefore of Tempranillo and Bobal and the other varieties in experimental quantities undergoing crianza.

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They are learning, like so many new bodegas how the different weather conditions affect the wines, how much ageing in wood is necessary, how the blending affects the final wines. Like all new bodegas the first few years are a complicated experimental process with variable results and lessons to be learned and experiences assimilated! For the timebeing the vineyard will also stay out of the D.O.

As we moved to the tasting room and shop he explained that he had a retail  outlet in Valencia ( Beals) and local restaurants and passing sales took care of the rest. The bodega does not really need a distributor.

 

Marian, Juanjo and the well.

Marian, Juanjo and the well.

Here we commenced with the Rosado, Flor de Ahillas a blend of some five varieties ( Bruñal, Bobal, Monastrell, Juan Garcia and  Garnacha) from a production of just 1400 bottles and from the 2014 vintage. ABV 11.3%.

This is a vibrant pale strawberry pink wine with a violet edge. Very clean, bright, medium but slow glycerinous legs.

On the nose it is expressive, fruity, fresh, floral, paraguayo in particular.
In the mouth again it is  fresh, with good acidity, strawberry fruit, with a long mineral dry finish reflecting the stony soils.
This was bottled just 2 weeks ago but was perfect, I look forward to seeing the evolution in bottle if it is this expressive now!
In the shop and tasting room.

In the shop and tasting room.

The white, Flor de Ahillas Blanco is 100% Merseguera 2014, the wine we had tried on Thursday evening. This wine is also 11.2% and from vines with at least 60 years of age. It too had only been bottled for 2 weeks.
Pale lemon yellow, clear, very bright with gold flashes and long legs. The grapes had been subjected to two days cold maceration under CO2 at 4º, then cold fermentation ( 14º) then left on the lees for 2 months with regular battonage. Juanjo is looking to maximise the natural acidity of the variety (he  is also experimenting with a short crianza in oak as does one of the other Alto Turia bodegas) .
On the nose it is immediately floral, white flower and as it evolves there arte hints of cactus flower, almond kernel ( as is found in the Italian white wines, Soave and Verdichio) and tropical fruit, lychee and nispero     ( lowquat).
In the mouth it is fresh, floral, very full, very dry but with excellent balance and a long dry mineral finish.
One of the very best Mersegueras I have tasted!
Nest we tasted a sample from deposit, a Merseguera, awaiting a final filtering  and bottling. This had more depth and we noted the effect of the battonage on the lees. The wine was slightly more yeasty, fuller and had a bit more banana on the  nose.
The wines tasted.

The wines tasted.

The third wine was the Tinto Ahillas 2012, a blend of the ten red varieties but with 80% Bobal and 5% Tempranillo. The other eight varieties are added in in tiny proportions as seasoning and spice. The fermentation of all the varieties together takes place in Stainless steel deposit with the malolactic fermentation in oak ( 75% French, 25% American). It then has 12 months crianza and six months in bottle.
Vibrant garnet colour with a medium body, long slow glycerinous legs.
On the nose you note the influence of the wood, green oak,  black pepper, spices, but plum fruit and dried grapes as well. Complex.
In the mouth firstly tannic, then good acidity, lots of pepper, good body, long full finish, fruity, smooth tannins, then a retronasal of strawberry, vanilla and cream.
This is a wine which needs another year in bottle  but was a pure pleasure to try now!
Wines available in the shop.

Wines available in the shop.

We retried the wines with a plate of local cheeses, salcichons and jamon whilst we talked about the use of chemicals in wines today. The long climb had been worth the effort to try these excellent, low production wines with outstanding quality. All that remained was the long slow descent armed with a couple of bottles to show at Friday´s wine club meeting!!!
Another successful VÍ vid visit and tasting!

Another successful VÍ vid visit and tasting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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