Wines from the Valencian community
Since I last wrote about the wines of Valencia, the market has consolidated well and the rest of the world is beginning to hear about Valencian wines and appreciate them!
There are five separate Denominations of Origin covering the Valencian Community and this article looks at each of them, how they are developing and some of the new wines that are emerging.
This covers most of Valencia province except the area around Requena.
There have been some exciting new developments both in organization and in new wines.
The major development has been in a general acceptance that the quality of wine needs to be improved and maintained in all years with less emphasis on the amount of production. This has seen several of the larger co-operatives in particular completely reassessing their range of wines.
And there have been new bodegas opening making artesan wines in small amounts.
The co-operative Baronia de Turis held a launch just this week of a range of new wines including two new moscatels, a dry white and a mistela and two monovarietals from Syrah and Merlot.
Classically Valencia has blended its wines or sold them in bulk for blending elsewhere, with only a small percentage of quality wine being retained for bottling.
This is changing with bodegas such as the Baronia and Murviedro recognizing that the market now requires wines, which are fruitier, show varietal characteristics and have some concentration.
The new market demands single variety wines and bodegas are now investing more in understanding the varieties they have and how the variety performs in different soils.
Just last week we were in Ontinyent at the Ontinium bodega looking at a parcel of experimental vines and tasting their new range which has achieved precisely what the market wants.
Two new bodegas have also opened, one in Ahillas (Terra D´Art) growing Merseguera, the regional white variety but also recuperating plots of old vines most of which had fallen out of production and the other, Monsata Perdigon, in Pedralba which has recuperated plots of a lost variety, Plantafina de Pedralba. Both are making excellent new wines.
This area about 80km West of Valencia owes its existence to the Bobal variety and wine making has been continuous for the last 2500 years or more.
The DO has been marketing vigorously and has taken Bobal to China, Brazil, Mexico, Germany and elsewhere with great success. It has also seen sales of wines increasing in the home market. The exciting element here is that growers have also been learning about the variety and many new wines have emerged as a result of experimentation, which are selling rapidly. One example is Bobal Alta Expresión, which seeks to maximize flavour and fruit concentration from the grapes. Latorre Agrovinicola, Coviñas (with their wine Adnos) have been introduced to the market with great acclaim from the public and professionals alike. Murviedro have introduced a new line from old vines with different lengths of barrel ageing which have enhanced their range significantly. Nor are the wines expensive.
Alicante has long marketed its wines well, with its mix of small traditional bodegas and large cooperatives. Here the developments have been twofold.
The first is the move to understand the principle regional variety better and to develop its production and the quality of wines made. Monastrell, (or Mouvèdre in France) has only recently been the subject of an International Congress to compare and consider growing methods and means to improve its production. Unlike Bobal, which grows well only in Requena, wines from Monastrell are made in Australia, California, Greece, France and elsewhere.
The second is to the counter the import of Lambrusco from Italy by introducing several ranges of lighter sparkling wines from the Moscatel variety (the other principle variety of Alicante) with alcoholic contents of between 5 and 10% by volume. Marina Alta from Bocopa includes both white and red sparkling wines in this manner in their range and Murviedro also have had some success with their sparkling wines (or espumosos) in International competitions.
Many of these are available in the supermarkets at very reasonable prices and have helped increase significantly the sales of bottled wines in the home market.
It is generally thought that cava is produced in Catalonia but it is actually a National DO with small geographically areas allowed to make wines from designated varieties. The town of Requena and its hamlets is one of those and supplies about 5% of the Cava production in Spain.
There is an association of cava producers who have just held their third annual fair in Valencia to tap into the Xmas market. Cavas from Dominio de la Vega and Pago de Tharsys, Chozas Carrascal, UVE (Unión Vinicola del Este), Vegalfaro, Torre Oria, Coviñas, Murviedro, Sebirán , have been joined by others such as Haya and Finca Casa Nueva.
This is the exciting new wine-producing area now on its trajectory to achieving full DO Status. Around 12 bodegas out of the 30 or so wine producers have achieved the quality standards required and a decision is awaited in Brussels following agreement from the Valencian government to create a new DO for the province.
We have regularly visited bodegas to taste their new wines at every stage of production.
Bodegas such as Vicente Flors, Baron D ´Alba, Mas de Rander, El Mollet (Roques Negres), Bodegas Masia de Haya, Mayo Garcia and others are producing some very good monovarietals from noble varieties such as Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet sauvignon.
So where can these wines be bought?
Avoid supermarkets such as Consum and especially Mercadona; sadly they do not have a good selection of Valencian wines generally. However Carrefour, El Corte Inglés and Hipercor carry ranges of Valencian wines. There are also many small independent wine shops, some of them in a group called Els Bodeguers, who have supplies of the wines from the smaller artesan bodegas. Shops such as La Biosca, Beals, Le Blosen for example, Ca Tino and Gourmet-Gourmet, both in Lliria, carry wines and cavas from Valencia.
Through our project ‘VÍ vid’ we run tastings in Valencia and in Lliria on a regular basis and the tastings are in English. If you want a private tasting in your home with a selection of Valencian wines we can organize this for you as well. These tastings are generally great fun and we organize the wines etc.
Riki Wigley and Marian Darás
In Facebook; Ca Tino, Bouquet SC. ,VÍ vid, Proava