THE BOBAL TRIUMVIRATE
I guess like many these days, I don’t just rely on one news feed. Whatever else one might say about President Trump, he certainly coined an accurate phrase – Fake News, and there’s plenty of it about. Was it always like this, we just didn’t realise it, or is it a new phenomenon, becoming increasingly worse?
Personally, I use several different sources to try and glean the truth – it’s in there somewhere, amidst the bias and the corruption, we just have to seek it out, lamentable though this is!
I also use several wine-news feeds, but not for the same reason – my sources in this sector have nothing to peddle – it’s to try and acquire as much information about wine, particularly Spanish wine, that is humanly possible. The goal being, of course, to keep faithful Cork Talk readers up to speed.
One such feed recently told of a new initiative – the forming of what I’m calling ‘The Bobal Triumvirate’. Although I write about wines from all over Spain, I’m always at pains to point out that there are also excellent wines local to where I live. One such area is Denominación de Origen Utiel-Requena. It’s from them that I heard the recent encouraging news that they have joined forces with two other DOs, Manchuela and Ribera del Júcar, with the aim of promoting the grape variety that is common to all three – Bobal!
How Bobal got it’s name is a fascinating piece of folklore stemming from Roman times here Valencia region (read it here www.colinharknessonwine.com/bobal-grape-variety-get-name/). It also makes a fascinating wine, in different styles too. For example, one of my favourite sparkling wines is the Blanc de Noir made with Bobal, by Pago de Tharsys in Utiel-Requena; plus, my favourite Rosado wine of the year thus far, is made with Bobal, by Bodegas La Niña de Cuenca; and of course, there are the three reds that I’ll be describing soon. Bobal’s versatility is key.
The wine world is competitive. Spain can now claim to have many areas of production that are crafting excellent wines. Yes there’s always been Rioja, Cava and a few other Spanish stars, but nowadays even they are feeling the heat of competition. Spanish winemaking is dynamic and at an all time high, so all producers have to be on their toes. Plus, DOs have to have a pull, hopefully unique, that will guide consumers to their area. Unique (practically, anyway) Bobal has been identified by the three Dos in question as being the jewel in their collective crown.
My newsfeed told of the formation of this triumvirate, advising that their first joint effort, will be a combined Utiel-Requena/Manchuela/Ribera del Júcar tasting to be held at this year’s Fenavin professional wine fair – essentially the biggest and best in Spain. The press has been informed and the various trade magazines and news outlets will be advertising the event. It’s a good start – though I believe more needs to be done.
The first responder was Bodegas Casa Gualda, whose wine Ten, from their Colección Leal series is made with 100% Bobal and, presumably, takes its name from the fact that it has been aged for ten months in French and American oak. The wine has added depth from the oak, but on the palate it’s the fruit that is to the fore. A characteristic of this variety is dark cherry notes, on the nose as well, and Ten certainly has this, though a little more too. There are earthy, wet stone mineral notes with a little mountain herb too. It’s the 2015 vintage, uncomplicated enjoyable, fruity wine. (www.casagualda.com)
Bodegas Pigar’s, Bobal La Serratilla 2017, DO Utiel-Requena, is a whopping 16% abv – though you wouldn’t know it to be so high. It’s full, yes, completely taking over the palate with some wonderful black (and lighter) cherry notes, but this wine also has an air of elegance to accompany its richness. Fermentation of the juice from grapes of the oldest vineyard on the property was provoked by its own wild yeasts. A glorious very dark colour, it invites the drinker in, and won’t let go! Just seven months in oak – super stuff! (Facebook Bodegas Pigar)
Rubatos 2017 from Bodegas La Niña de Cuenca, DO Manchuela is a lovely single vineyard wine from vines planted in 1985 and hand harvested at night. The must was fermented in 1,000 and 500 litre earthenware tinajas where it remained for ten months, before being bottled and kept in the cellar for a further three months before release.
I really enjoyed this wine, in fact, more so the second day. It’s still young and I’d recommend decanting, and even better, sit on it for at least another year (contacting the bodega www.laninadecuenca.com and hoping they have some 2016 left, or earlier!). Elegant, yet full, with lovely herby dark fruit and black cherry on the nose, with tannin for ageing, fresh acidity and glorious fruit!
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