##The ‘Mostra’ held annually in the dry riverbed came to a finish on  April 29th. Over the previous five days thousands of visitors had experienced the selection of wines, spirits, olive oils, craft beers, artisan cheeses, sausages, breads, chocolates and more that was on offer. All these products originate in the Valencian community and all three provinces were well represented.

Organised by Proava, the not-for-profit agency responsible for promoting the Valencian panoply of gastronomic produce, it is also the time of year for the first part of the Valencian Wines Competition. Unique in Spain, the competition invites bodegas from across the entire Valencian Community and any bodega can enter their wines in around a dozen categories.

A tasting panel is appointed principally by Proava but on behalf of the Agriculture and Tourism department, making this a Government sponsored competition. The panel is made up of technical staff from the Denominations of Origin, the wine press, professional winemakers, the Sumilleres association and others.

The competition is now in three parts and for the fair the wines to be judged are whites, rosados, young and aged reds, sweet wines and vermuts. Sparkling wines and Cava are judged later in the year as are those for the Monovarietals class which are for the best Monastrells, Moscatels and Bobals.

Around 25 bodegas submitted 224 wines this year for consideration and the panel met three times to taste and judge them. The first two stages are eliminatory, the wines being tasted blind and judged according to their appearance, colour, bouquet, taste and quality. Each class is whittled down to the top scoring 10 wines and these are judged again to award the prizes, which are handed out on the first evening of the ‘Mostra’.

Almost all of the bodegas who have entered the competition are exhibitors at the fair, so the public have the opportunity to taste those wines judged to be the best examples of their type for this year.

Sitting on such a panel gives a wonderful opportunity to judge the overall quality of wines from the new vintage, particularly in the whites, rosados and young reds sections. We think it fair to say that generally for the earlier harvested wines, (whites and rosados) the quality is very good. The grapes were all picked before the weather suddenly changed, the rains came and temperatures dropped affecting the acidity, sugar content and ripeness of the reds making it a “difficult” year for this category. Not one winemaker has told VÍ Vid that they had a good year with their red wines!

In the category for white wines the winners were Mariluna 2018, (Verdejo/Macabeo), Alcovi Blanco 2018(Sauvignon Blanc/Plantafina) and Nodus 2018(Chardonnay). The Mariluna is from Sierra Norte and we have reviewed their wines many times before. The Alcovi is from a small Co-op in the village of Almedijar, near to Segorbe. They produce wines from small plots in and around the Sierra d’Espadan and this white is very fresh with a gooseberry and elderflower bouquet and is crisp in the mouth. Plantafina is a pretty rare variety and adds acidity to this blend. Nodus also produces consistent wines from their bodega near to Utiel.

2018 in Rosados is a triumph for the Bobal variety from Utiel-Requena. All three prizes went to this grape and DO. The wines are all classic, despite their varying depth of colour, and are packed full of strawberry and raspberry fruit, chewing gum, and strawberry and cream sweets with excellent acidity. Rosado lovers are in for a treat this summer with the winning wines coming from the Utiel co-op Vega Infante 2018, Rosa &Dito 2018 and Aula 2018 both from Coviñas and Sierra Norte getting a special mention for their Pasión de Bobal.

The young reds generally needed sugar adding to the must or at least tasted as if this was the case, some being almost sweet and showing why it had been such a difficult year. Winemakers generally have needed to pull every trick out of the book to ‘correct’ their wines. Nonetheless we have tasted some very good wines from 2018 and the winners in this category are good examples. Huella de Syrah 2018 from Vegamar, Naturel 2018 Monastrell from Bodega los Frailes and Alto Cuevas Sucesión Bobal/Tempranillo 2018 from Covilor took the prizes.

For the reds with oak ageing, the first class is ‘Madurado en Barrica’ signifying a crianza up to three months. Winners here were Pasión de Monastrell 2016 from Sierra Norte, Capitan Julián 2017 Tempranillo and Tesoro de Capitan Monastrell 2016 both from Ontinium.

For reds with 6-12 months in oak (crianza), the winners were Biologiá 2016 Monastrell from Los Frailes, Aula Syrah 2016 from Coviñas and Laudum XII Plus Monastrell from Bocopa.

In the class for Reservas (more than 12 months Crianza), Vegamar picked up another award for their Esencia 2016 Garnacha, Coviñas another for the Adnos 2014 Bobal and newcomers Hacienda la Pajerera a first for their Especias Bobal 2016. The 2016 wines are generally are beginning to show well now but have plenty of life left in them!

In the categories for sweet wines and vermuts Bodegas Xaló from the Jalon valley did very well, taking four of the six prizes available… Gold and Bronze for Riu Rau and Bahia de Denia respectively and in the Vermuts class Gold and Bronze for Val de Gorgos and Xaloneret respectively. Silvers went to Cuva Vella from Valsangiacomo for their dulce and Adriano from Bodegas Haya for their vermut. This latter vermouth has now sadly sold out!

VÍ Vid hope to visit Bodegas Xaló in May and to be showing some of their wines in forthcoming tastings.

Top wine, the most valued in the competition, went to Bodega La Viña from Font de la Figuera for their Venta del Puerto No 12, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Tempranillo with 12 months in American oak and a wonderful vanilla flavour.

RIKI WIGLEY & MARIAN DARÁS

VÍ Vid is a project supporting the development of wine knowledge and gastronomy in the Valencian Community. We run wine clubs, give tastings of Valencian wines in English and support wine-makers and bodegas directly. We can be found in Instagram (Vivid8402), and through our blog VÍ Vid at https://vvidblog.wordpress.com, in Facebook, (https://www.facebook.comVivideventos) and in Twitter @vividvinos. Our Valencia Wine Nights tastings in Valencia will start again soon.

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