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Top Tastings in Valencia, with Bodegas BOCOPA and Enrique Mendoza.


Bocopa TastingThe last month has been somewhat busy with events and tastings around the Valencian Community as well as the second Castellon Wine Fair and two tastings of wines from across Spain.The first was by the Castellon Wine Distributors ( VindiCas) and the second a tasting given to mark the 10th anniversary of the Grandes Pagos de España. VÍ vid has been active, attending all the tastings as well as the launch last week of the new range of wines from Bodegas Vegamar.

Two of these tastings stood out for the diverse manner in which they were held and the contrast in the types of wines which were available to taste.

The first of these was a `Cata Magistral ´ or masterclass tasting of 5 wines from BOCOPA, given by the bodega and led by Ivan Martinez Hierro who won Spain’s premier competition for Sommelliers, the Nariz D´Or, this year. It was held in the Westin Hotel in Valencia on 3 December and attracted an audience of some 200 wine professionals.

BOCOPA

BOCOPA´s trajectory has been quite marked. The bodega is a modern entity, created in 1987 by the amalgamation of eight bodegas in DO Alicante in a way which was intended to give the entity sufficient size to make quality wine with capital behind it for modern techniques.

It has  1600 members who possess some 10k hectares of wines and makes table, organic, sparkling and dessert wines which have a growing reputation. They are responsible for some 60% of wine production in Alicante province.

HQ is a modern bodega in Petrer with 4000 square meters , opened in the year 2000. 70% of the production sells in the National market and the remainder is exported. The bodega is probably best know for its `Marina Alta´ white, the brand new `Marina´ Sparkling wines and `Laudum´ a range of organic wines. Top of the pile however is a Fondillon, `Alone´. We were to taste from these ranges but in total the bodega owns 30+ trademarks.

Bocopa2

First wine then was the Marina Alta Blanco. This is a white wine made from a particular clone of Moscatel of Alexandria  , grown on terraced slopes overlooking the sea near Calpe,  40-year-old vines which benefit from cooling sea breezes.

The white moscatels of DO Alicante generally have a light touch and freshness which marks them out from their cousins from DO Valencia which are generally fatter.

The wine is very pale lemon in colour, crystal clear, bright and has a very aromatic nose…characteristic of the variety. It is immediately fresh, floral,  with white fruits such as  apricot plus  lowquat and lychee.  As the wine evolves in glass there is a hint of oiliness, apricot kernel ( which is certainly no fault giving it interesting depth)  and later still with oxygenation there are distinct scents of  basil.

photo 3(21)

In the mouth the wine is fresh and quite full. Fennel is the first flavour to emerge from a wine which has sugar, alcohol and acidity in perfect balance. It enjoys a long full finish with an apricot after note.

This is a smooth, aromatic white, intense, elegant and a great accompaniment for seafood rice dishes, fideuà or indeed simply as an aperitif. It is available widely in supermarkets throughout Valencia.

The second wine was a sparkling light wine from the same variety. Marina 7º is one of a new range of sparkling wines being introduced throughout Valencia and seen as an answer to the over-reliance on imported lambrusco´s . There is no question of the difference in the level of quality!

Ivan Martinez Hierro, Nariz D´Oro

Ivan Martinez Hierro, Nariz D´Oro,(Right).

On pouring the wine is the same colour as the last but has small lively bubbles, a good mousse which when it dissipates leaves persistent bubbles forming spirals and roses on the surface. The aroma of soft white fruit is matched with a hint of rubber, or tarmac which quickly departs leaving a characteristic moscatel. After half an hour in glass it displays quite strong floral notes of elderflower.

In the mouth this light wine is smooth on entry, balanced, refreshing, then pineapple and tropical fruits, the bubbles are just right in the mouth. It has been compared to drinking a cold beer in its level of refreshment!

This would accompany lighter meals, seafood rice dishes, or equally cakes and pastries. It has, since its first release, won 25 international medals and this year alone a gold `Berliner Wine Trophy´and  a silver `Mundis Vini ´award.

The third wine was the big brother from this range, Marina Monastrell 10º, a sparkling red from Alicante´s prime red variety.

The grapes for this wine come from La Cañada, are hand-picked from old vines in goblet shape and is made by cold maceration to extract maximum colour and fruit flavours from the skins.

It is a medium bodied,  cherry red wine, youthful to the eye, with fine persistent bubbles and a strong mousse. It is fresh and very fruity on the nose, blackcurrant, guinda cherry ( bitter cherry preserved in liqueur and used for baking cakes) , soft cherries.

In the mouth there is an initial sweetness, good bite from the bubbles, jammy fruit flavours,  structured, mineral and refreshing. This is a very surprising and pleasant, sparkling red, not too sweet which would match tapas, rice dishes, blue fish, meat , fruits and cakes . I have also successfully tried this with a `chocolate brownie´.

Fourth wine was a still red Crianza 2010 from the Laudum range.

The wine has spent some 16 months in oak ( 70% French,  30% American.) and a further 16 months in bottle before release.

A blend of Monastrell, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  It has an intense ruby colour with a garnet rim and purple flashes.

On the nose the wine displays a full nose, powerful with fruits of the forest, oak and vanilla. The fruit is round deep, mature.

In the mouth it is rich, velvety, deep and quite complex with notes of spice, ( vanilla) smooth tannins , good structure and backbone, mature fruit.

This is a much more traditional style of wine and a marked difference to its predecessors. Complex, fruity and pleasant it would match red meats, game and cheeses.

Fondillon , Alone

Fondillon , Alone

Finally we tasted the Bodega´s Fondillon, 1987 Cosecha, Gran Reserva, from pure Monastrell.

Fondillon is a truly historic wine , popular from the  16th Century onwards, exported to the French Royal Household and to the Uk ( where it was known as `Alacant´) . It is made from the small berries of very old vines, late picked when the sugar levels are around 16º or more. It is then aged for a long time in large oak casks, until it becomes rancio, or sherry like in style. It is one of just four luxury wines as classified by the EU along with sherry, port and Champagne but it is a natural wine with no added sugars,  nor is it fortified with alcohol.

The first thing you notice about the wine is its colour, amber, almost light red copper and its clarity and long legs. This particular wine is 17%ABV.

On the nose you would expect a `sherry style´and you would not be disappointed. It is full of figs, honey, fig cake ( the dried figs pressed with nuts into a round shape and wrapped) . Just like the cake when it is unwrapped, when the wine is poured there is a massive hit of these fruit flavours plus dried grapes and dates.

In the mouth this is amplified, a rancio finish but a big, rich wine which would be ideal with blue cheeses, puddings or as an aperitif.

This is a very big wine.

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The second tasting was of four wines from the artisan bodega of Enrique Mendoza. The bodega is also modern , opening in 1989. Enrique Mendoza was a grocer in the town of L´Alfas del Pi between Altea and Benidorm  ( also in DO Alicante) . He planted his first 200 vines in 1970 for his own consumption of wine.

With the passing of time the planting increased he began to sell wine as well. With each vintage his experience grew until he decided it was time to learn new techniques. It was time for serious wines!

From 1989 he acquired 120 hectares of vines in Villena.

When I came to Spain in 2004 his son Pepe was already known as a `flying wine-maker´. One of a breed who learnt in the Northern hemisphere in Spring and Summer and the Southern hemisphere during their wine-making periods. They were the masters of new techniques, applying them as soon as learned, to make the best of modern styles of wine.

Bodega Enrique Mendoza

Bodega Enrique Mendoza

Today the Bodega is one of the Grandes Pagos de España. Pepe´s wines are legendary….so this was a tasting not to be missed especially as VÍ vid are booked to do a tasting in two weeks in Alicante matching the wines with salted and air-dried fish products ( Salazones).

The tasting ( which took the form of a workshop) was held in the HQ of Proava and was aimed at the next generation of wine lovers. It was led by Maria Jose Salvador, winemaker at Mamerto de la Vera, the Cheste based bodega producing sweet wines and vermouths, much of which are sold in bulk and who export to the United Kingdom.  The tasting was marked by a lively level of participation!

Tasting in Workshop Mode

Tasting in Workshop Mode

The first wine we tried was a young Chardonnay 2013, from Vineyards at Finca El Chaconero, near to Villena. This had had three months in oak .

The wine with its new lable is golden in colour with bright flashes, bright and clean. At 13%ABV it has good strong, long legs.

Mendoza Chardonnay.

Mendoza Chardonnay.

On entry to the mouth the first sensation was the acidity but this was quickly balanced by the fruit. The wine is round, full, has good volume with a very long, dry, mineral finish. This minerality reflects the very special soils in this part of DO Alicante.

This is a round, full wine, very satisfying and a good example of Chardonnay. It is not overoaked, indeed the oaking was reflected more in the colour than the mouth and for us is similar in style to a good Macon wine from Burgundy….true Chardonnay!

The second was a 2011 Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon blend.

Medium to full-bodied, ruby in colour with long legs and a youthful look, the wine colouring the glass.

On the nose intense blackcurrant fruit, with raspberry and liquorice notes. there were also hints of wet earth at the edge of the forest, with spice, nutmeg, and cream.

In the mouth strong tannins and acidity initially but the fruit is rich and ripe, very fresh with fruits of the forest, it fills the mouth and lingers for a long time! You note the alcohol.

This is a very full wine, meaty and not one for quaffing. Also from El Chaconero, this is a wine which would accompany blue fish or cured cheeses. we felt that although it was youthful this was a wine which is actually at its peak now, its freshness, depth and concentration being its biggest asset.

The third wine was the classic Santa Rosa 2011. This is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon with 15% each of Syrah and Merlot. the grapes also come from the Villena vineyards.

Santa Rosa.

Santa Rosa.

The grapes are selected small bunches with greater concentration, which are then fermented and macerated before ageing for 16-17 months in French oak. The wine is then bottled and remains in the cellars for 16 months more at least before release,

Deep garnet in colour, the edge showing some ageing, very glycerinous long legs which take some time to form.

On the nose mature fruit, almost jam in-depth and concentration, black fruit, a little ground pepper, floral and mineral notes.

In the mouth like a liquid jam, concentrated with smooth tannins, full-bodied, balanced and elegant.

Unashamedly big wine and one of our personal favourites. There are those who find the wine predominantly full of stone and mineral flavours but I have never heard a bad word about this wine!

Notwithstanding my comments above the fourth wine was a spectacular blockbuster and on the night, the star!

A 15.5% pure Monastrell Dolç de Mendoza  2009, we all raved about the  pure concentration of this sweet wine made from red grapes. Whilst we should not forget this is the same variety as the Fondillon from the previous tasting the wine could not be a bigger contrast!

Dolç de Mendoza.

Dolç de Mendoza.

A very deep black wine with incredibly long, slow forming and very glycerinous legs.

The wine can only be made in years when the weather allows over-ripening and late picking of concentrated bunches in early December.

On the nose the wine is concentrated, honeyed, with blackberry, plum and damson fruit, mature, like a liquid jam or marmalade!

This is due to the fermentation process which because of the high level of alcohol ( 15-16%) the yeasts die off during the process leaving high levels of residual sugar.

And boy, do you notice this in the mouth! After fermentation the wine goes into American oak for up to three years. The primary notes are fruit, blackberry, strawberry, with cinnamon and nutmeg spices. Then the residual sweetness kicks in with peppery notes, ground fresh black pepper, but the harmony is immense! The whole wine has the feel of a traditional Xmas cake, full of deep, concentrated flavours and smoky notes, treacle. Moreover as the wine evolves in the glass concentrated dried grapes emerge as well.

This is a wine which has a huge long , concentrated finish, like a reduction of port wine to accompany a big game dish. For us two possible accompaniments jumped out…foie gras or traditional Xmas cake!

I know what will be on our Xmas table this year!!!!

So, two quite different tastings of wines from two quite different bodegas both of which represent Alicante´s wines in their own distinct manner. Both tastings given in a different manner, one formal, one informal but both immensely successful with lots of participation. Two fabulous  evenings!

Next? A VÍ vid tasting of old French classic varietal wines from the Rhone Valley, Champagne and Sauternes. An opportunity to see how old wines from noble varieties can be   matched with modern duck dishes served currently in Valencian Community restaurants…coming very soon!

The Proava and VÍ vid tastings team!

The Proava and VÍ vid tastings team!

54th Concurs Internacional de Paella Valencia…Cooks from Around the World Battle it Out in Sueca!


Sueca 14Sunday 14 September 2014, the big day arrives and 35 chefs and their assistants gather in Sueca for the final of a truly world-wide contest to begin! For the record it was another very hot day in Valencia´s capital of Paella, Sueca being at the heart of the Provinces´rice growing area.

But this year this is not the first time the contestants, or at least some of them , have cooked a paella in this competition this year.

Sueca may be the epicentre of Valencian Paella, it is certainly home to the annual competition to decide who cooks the best one, but such is the interest now, worldwide , in this fiercely argued over dish that Sueca has sought to truly Internationalise the competition.

In the past France, Germany, New Zealand  and even the US and  the UK have provided entrants, invited by the organising committee to provide competitors and spice up the competition. It was even won by a US team ( although they were of course Valencian chefs working there) a couple of years back.

Jesus Melero

Jesus Melero

So this year, Jesus Melero Martinez, Coordinator of the concurs, together with the councillor from the local town hall, Teresa Ribes and publicity gurus and brothers Miguel and Vicente Sanfeliu ( Socarrat Studios) concocted a plan to franchise out the foreign bit and hold what were to become Semi-Finals in Miami, Shanghai, Tokyo, Australia and London. The winners and first and second runners-up would be invited to participate in the final in Sueca. Here they would join the restaurants from France, Spain and Germany who would be selected traditionally from the many who entered the competition invitation.

The competition remains open to professional restaurants only ( there are  a host of competitions for amateurs) as has always been the case.

In this, its first year the franchise only really got off the ground ( but to spectacular success) in Manly ( Australia) Shanghai ( China) and Tokyo Japan). Despite the huge  popularity of Paella in the United Kingdom ( sadly more often than not cooked with inappropriate ingredients such as chorizo and peas….for which Gordon Ramsey, Delia Smith  and Jamie Oliver have a lot to answer) in the end the UK´s only representative was Restaurant LA Room with chefs Xavi Meroño and Javi Vicente Rejas ( Barcelona and Valencia respectively). Cleverly they had worked the  `Keep Calm´ theme to their advantage and sold t-shirts to their supporters.

 

VÍ vid with LA Room London.

VÍ vid with LA Room London.

The first of the heats covered Oceania ( Australia, New Zealand and Colombia) and was held in Manly. Jesus and Miguel flew out and the former , ( owner of RiRa Restaurant in Sueca- home to an array of traditional Valencian Rice Dishes) gave a masterclass on the eve of the competition, cooking authentic Valencian Paella. No little effort went into getting this correct, even the original paella pans by Garcima, local rice, olive oil, pimenton, saffron and the recipe were despatched on the plane together with gas manifolds!

Eleven Australian restaurants and one each from Colombia and New Zealand took part. New Zealander Edrick Corban-Banks who has cooked in Sueca at least twice before was co-organiser and major financial sponsor of the heat and joined the judging panel this year! The winner was Hassan M ´Souli of Out of Africa restaurant, a Marroqui by birth. Faillino Lattento of Simply Spanish was second and Kif Weber and Scott Hefferman of Sah Modern Mediterranean were third and all invited to Sueca for the final.

Hassan M´Souli, Winner Oceania.

Hassan M´Souli, Winner Oceania.

More than 1000 portions of Paella were eaten on the day!

At the end of May the roadshow moved to Shanghai in China and in this heat the winner was Oscar Leon of La Pedrera de Shangai….

The last of the true semi-finals was a huge success in Tokyo, ( Japan has also had representatives at Sueca in the past – has a paella cooking Society and the Consul General to Spain is a judge!) 6000 portions of paella were produced and Bar Espana ( Sapporo) , El Lagar and El Soleado were the runners-up from a competition with 16 participating restaurants!

Sueca14Jap

For the record these contestants were joined by Flavours of Spain from Sydney, La Paella Iberica and Saint George from France and the La Loca Tapas bar from Bonn in Germany, the rest being Spain based, the majority local to Valencia.

Tradition runs true here in Sueca. The contestants, by now full of trepidation or with adrenalin coursing through their veins gather early to collect their ingredients, prepare them and marvel at the equipment provided for the chefs. ( Paella pan, stand and a heap of dried orange wood!) The more relaxed eat a late breakfast!

A large Crowd

A large Crowd

Cooking commences, the deadline approaches and the atmosphere lifts. The smoke from 35 fires swirls around  the park opposite the train station, stinging the eyes of chefs and the growing public mass. Beer flows from the free bar ( or coca cola if you must!) and the amateur observers are not slow in coming forward with advice to the chefs…`heat is too high, you will burn the pan´…`no, no, the vegetables go in later´etc etc….not that many of them are fluent in Japanese ( or English come to think of it!!).

Paella Heading to the Judges!

Paella Heading to the Judges!

Suddenly cooking is over, the politicians have completed their tour of the boxes where the cooking takes place and the last photographs are taken. Then the paellas process up the hill to the banqueting hall to be judged…anyone who is late is disqualified!!!

This is as much as the public get to see. The rest of the occasion is strictly for the judges, the press and local dignitaries, sponsors and family members.

As a member of the third estate, ( communication media) Ví vid ( with  Ricardo´s Blog) were able to access the judging room, inspect all the eligible paellas and take more photographs before the serious part of the day commenced. The judges were left to try every paella and come to their verdict…and the rest of us repaired next door.

Awaiting the Judges

Awaiting the Judges

Lunch follows with a long presentation first to the regional winners, restaurants who have been honoured by selection to participate for the first time, honoured guests and the organisers who flew round the world to make it all possible. Three special prizes, Paellers d´honor are also awarded to those who have contributed selflessly to the world od Spanish gastronomy…a journalist, Director of the local Parador and a chef from  the Basque country.

Lunch was  starter of Water melon with a vinaigrette of blood orange with salad leaves; the entrantes were a coca with tomato, tuna and anchovy and meatballs cooked in a tomato sauce.

Melon and Fancy Leaves

Melon and Fancy Leaves

A sorbet of mojito with  rum cleansed the palate before the Main Course…Paella Valencia.

Classic Paella Valencia

Classic Paella Valencia

Then the Restaurants trademark dessert, coffee ice-cream on a chocolate brownie with chocolate sauce was presented. Wines were provided by this years sponsors Bocopa and the Cava and Federica Licor ( orange ) were provided by Pago de Tharsys.

Chocolate Ice Cream and Brownie!

Chocolate Ice Cream and Brownie!

Then the long-awaited prize giving took place.

Third Prize went to Hotel Hospes Palau de la Mar, Valencia.

 Second prize was awarded to Restaurante Casa Pepe Sanchis, Cordova.

First Prize, Best Paella Valencia in the World for 2014 was won by…

Restaurant Miguel y Juani from nearby L´Alcudia. 

The Winners!

The Winners!

Another exciting and enjoyable day, one with an atmosphere you have to be there to understand was over. With it a considerable amount more effort than usual had been expended to make it more truly International than before. We have no doubt that this will continue to grow and maybe next year we will see Restaurants from England and the rest of the world whose names are a little less Spanish in origin….whatever, Paella Valencia de Sueca will be the winner!!!!

This years `Family Photo´.

This years `Family Photo´.

Carlota Suria, Cava from Pago de Tharsys.

Carlota Suria, Cava from Pago de Tharsys.

Ferevin 2014….a Perfect Wine Fair!


Ferevin 2014

 

Today is the 23rd birthday of Ferevin, the Feria Requenense de Vinos which has been held in the town and showcases the wines of DO Utiel-Requena. The fair has undergone some changes over the years but always comes over the final weekend of August and is always the first date to be written the diary.

Perhaps the biggest change was the move, last year, from the Avenida Arabal, a tree-lined boulevard in the centre of town crowned by the Monument to the Vendimia. Here the fair flourished and the crowds mingled under the plane trees enjoying the wines on offer. serious wine buffs and the public rubbed shoulders together.

Recinto Ferial

Recinto Ferial

Now the fair is held in a modern atmosphereless airport style departures hall. It is supposed to ensure the crowds who attend are rather more of the former group and that they are contained  within the building and the streets are free for everybody else. The trouble is it has done nothing to improve the quality of experience for the wine buffs and there are now noticeably less bodegas attending than in the past. Some of this may be down to changing marketing strategies but I know there are bodega owners who simply do not like the change that has been made!

This year some 17 bodegas have been showing their wines and we have attended two of the seven sessions ( the fair is open between 11.00 and 14.00 and 19.00 to 22.00 each day Thursday , Friday and Saturday and the earlier session only today) to taste and discuss issues with the bodegas and developments in the area such as the state of the harvest, marketing plans etc. The fair has always been a good opportunity to catch up with the many friends from across Valencia who also attend and increasingly International visitors as the regions wines are becoming better known abroad.

VÍ vid with Felix Cuartero, President PROAVA and Treasurer Ferevin.

VÍ vid with Felix Cuartero, President PROAVA and Treasurer Ferevin.

Ricardo´s Blog has always used the fair as an opportunity to plan visits to the area as well and there was no change to that strategy this year! However,  increasingly this blog will also be reporting on the publicity work of VÍ vid, a new project being pursued by close friend Marian Daras and myself aimed at targeting specific promotion of Valencian wines and gastronomy, working directly with bodegas, the authorities and like-minded organisations to escalate the rate that knowledge becomes spread internationally. This is being done through tastings in English and Spanish as well as the organisation and planning of specific events as well as bodega visits.

To this end our visits have been less about our knowledge of the products this year and rather more about our knowledge of the background to the bodegas and their plans, problems etc. There was plenty of tasting to be done however and there are abbreviated notes for the regular readers who I know follow the blog for recommendations etc!!!!

 

Ernesto Carcel, President Ferevin.

Ernesto Carcel, President Ferevin.

President of the Fair this year is Ernesto Carcel, of Bodegas El Rebollar, Ernesto Carcel, whose bodega we visited earlier this year and who subsequently sponsored a tasting held in the Headquarters of PROAVA,  the Government agency promoting agriculture, gastronomy and wine.

His family bodega has, like many suffered from the drought this year but, although the harvest is reduced this year has still managed to commence the `vendimia´. He also told us that they had completed the sale of a significant amount of wine to Nigeria which was on the cards when we visited.

This had exhausted the stocks of their distinctive white wine, a pure Macabeo fermented and aged in American oak which has long been a favourite of mine. The 2005 was the first vintage I had tried but earlier this year they had moved on to the 2007 which I felt was a little lighter and fresher. However all of this was sold and at the fair they were showing the golden coloured 2012 vintage which for me is more reminiscent of the 2005. This is a big wine which needs food ( it would be perfect with Paella) and for those who know their Spanish wines is very like an aged Rioja such as those from Tondonia.

Carcel de Corpa, Oaked Macabeo.

Carcel de Corpa, Oaked Macabeo.

Amongst the International Visitors this year were Alizarin Wine, the independent South London wine store whose directors are Tim and Suzanne O´Donnell. They were here ahead of a holiday and came to visit the fair with a view to purchasing the next batch of wines. VÍ vid was pleased to be able to introduce them to a range of new wines and bodegas and will be accompanying Tim on his next visit to show him some of the bodegas and taste more extensively.

VÍ vid and Alizarin Wine.

VÍ vid and Alizarin Wine.

Vera de Estenas has achieved Pago status and this is now reflected in the new labels which were being shown for the first time at this fair. Felix Martinez the owner was tied up with the harvest which commenced three weeks earlier than normal due the weather this year. However we caught up with him briefly and enjoyed a glass of the Bodega´s Chardonnay which is also fermented in oak     ( French in this case ) and which undergoes a brief crianza in contact with the lees. This is a consistent wine and once again the new vintage, 2013, is full of banana and tropical fruit on the nose and is fresh in the mouth. Felix told us that the Pago  was holding a formal presentation of their wines to celebrate the new status on 11 September ( by Invitation) in the Westin Hotel, Valencia . We will be attending and will report further!

Pago Vera de Estenas

Pago Vera de Estenas

Vegalfaro was the last bodega we had visited and reported on just a couple of weeks ago. Owner Rodolfo Garcia was also overseeing the harvest of the white varieties and we did not get to talk further with him. However Miriam who works at the bodega was on hand to bring us up to date and show us a wine which Rodolfo has introduced to the range as a tribute to an Uncle who recently passed away. This is a young style wine, a blend of Bobal and Merlot which is fresh, fruity and full. We enjoyed a glass with Bollo, the local bread baked with sausages and bacon produced around Requena.

Almorzando! Vegalfaro´s Tio Emilio and Bollo.

Almorzando! Vegalfaro´s Tio Emilio and Bollo.

Bodegas Cueva with owner/winemaker Mariano Taberner were showing his range of new wines, sparkling low alcohol and alcohol free which he is happily marketing now. He also produces a couple of liquor style wines such as a ginger wine which has proved very popular. Fortunately Mariano had recently discovered a handful of cases of the bodegas original 2006 wine and had brought a few bottles for the press, professionals and friends. This had been produced as joven, or young style of wine. It was however a brilliant example of the wines the bodega originally were making a name from.

A rare bottle of Cuevas 2006!

A rare bottle of Cuevas 2006!

We spent some time with Ana Suria, one of the owners of  Bodega Pago de Tharsys. Over a glass of Unico 2008, the Bodegas sparkling wine ( effectively a cava ) which is a Blanc de Negre, a white made from the regions local variety Bobal, we chatted about a number of issues and were joined by Silvia Soria Cases,  formerly a Canal 9 journalist who now has her own regular slot on independent radio. `El Forcat de Silvia´ her regular programme is a by-word for promoting Valencian Gastronomy and her knowledge and experience of the regions food and wines is almost unsurpassed.

VÍ vid and Silvia Soria Cases.

VÍ vid and Silvia Soria Cases.

Ana´s husband and co-owner of Pago de Tharsys, Vicente Garcia  was due to receive a tribute that evening  for the 40 years of work in the world of wine. The award comes from the Organisers of the Fiesta of the Vendimia and reflects his whole career which includes teaching, studies in agriculture , a period learning about and making cava in Cataluña, his return to Requena to found Bodega Torre Oria and with his group of co-owners to fight for the town to have the right to make cava. Subsequently he has been Director of Covibex, Valencia´s experimental bodega in Chiva before starting up in Pago de Tharsys.VÍ vid will be helping with the harvest of the grapes for the 2014 Unico.

Pago de Tharsys 2008 Unico.

Pago de Tharsys 2008 Unico.

Carlos Carcel has his bodega also in El Rebollar where he produces excellent wines under the Valle de Tejo and other trademarks. He also has been President of Ferevin and is noted for being the first winemaker to introduce a Gran Reserva from Bobal , as well as the only producer of a Bobal Maceración Carbonica. After a glass of the ripe and full Macabeo white from 2013 as a palate cleanser we tried the young Bobal . It proved to have an explosion of raspberry and strawberry fruit on the nose and in the mouth was fresh, very full and showing well the liquorice and chocolate the variety is famed for. This is a very easy drinker. By contrast the Gran Reserva 2000, perhaps more Riojan in style was ( despite its still bright colour) showing its age.

Eduardo and Nohemi at Sebirán

Eduardo and Nohemi at Sebirán

Joint prize for presentation of stands ( if there were one ) would undoubtedly go to Pago de Tharsys and Sebirán,  the bodega run by Ken Wagener. The bodega is celebrating its centenary this year and under Ken has extended the range of wines in the `C´`J´and `Z´ranges. Accompanied by partner Nohemi and son Eduardo ( who secretly is really in charge) the stand received a consistent stream of tasters and significantly buying customers for their easy drinking wines. I fully admit to commencing the second morning session with a glass of the Brut Nature Cava and  thoroughly recommend it!

One Bodega not visited yet has been Sierra Norte based in Camporrobles. They produce a range of wines, regularly selected by the DO for events promoted by them. The Pasión de Bobal which has regularly been highly rated by Parker and which is available in London is a fresh easy drinking red with good varietal characteristics which also accompanies several styles of local dishes as we have experienced when lunching locally. Arrangements have now been made to visit and a full blog will be released in October.

Wines From Sierra Norte.

Wines From Sierra Norte.

Two of the larger Bodegas from the town Coviñas and Murviedro and the Cooperativa Utielana were also showing a wide range of wines , the Al Vent range from Coviñas proving very popular. UVÉ, Requena´s Cava producer also brought several of their wide range of wines. Their role is also to produce cava for bodegas which do not have the right to directly make their own.

Vereda Real , the Requena bodega where Pedro makes wine in conjunction with the University in Valencia in terracotta tinaja´s and a Square barrica where the oak can be changed and combined in different proportions. He  was in Alicante so we unable to ascertain whether there would be any Bobal Blanco in 2014.

Dominio de La Vega also make extremely good cava and the best way to finish off the fair was with a glass of the Pinot Noir, made by Dani Esposito, who likewise was unable to attend as the grapes for the cava were being harvested.

Dominio de la Vega, Cava Pinot Noir.

Dominio de la Vega, Cava Pinot Noir.

Following our visit twelve of us  repaired to the terrace at Los Cubillos, VÍ vid being joined by Alizarin Wine and members of the Pedralba Wine Club.

This restaurant nestled under the castle walls serves high quality regional dishes at very reasonable prices and as well as one of our favourites is regularly used by the wine-makers and bodega owners whose wines can be found amongst the comprehensive selection of references from Utiel-Requena and Valencia.

Carpaccio of octopus.

Carpaccio of octopus.

Between us we shared carpachio of octopus, ajo arriero, a duck salad, scrambled eggs with prawns and bacon, a range of  main courses including grilled and oven cooked bream, confit of duck, swordfish and secreto of pork, followed by homemade desserts and coffee with wine all included for 20€ a head.

The end of a perfect day during which we realised no-one had really noticed the building where the fair was being held! Maybe that ´s for the best!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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