IT’S A FAMILY AFFAIR!
Remember the song? Sly and the Family Stone, 1972 – just to put your mind at rest!
I can’t remember the words, so I’ve no idea if the lyrics are at all relevant to Bodegas Pigar, the smallest bodega in DOP Utiel-Requena, but the title is most certainly appropriate!
My contact at Bodegas Pigar is the alarmingly joven Juan, whose age, height and long hair remind me a little of myself in my student days (now don’t scoff, I had hair at one time, and I’m still tall – and age, well we won’t go there!), whom I met in his capacity as Head Wine Maker at another bodega. Juan remains in that position but is also a major part of his family’s new venture – fulfilling the same technical role.
Like so many bodegas these days it’s a harmonious blend of vine tending and wine-making history and tradition, with modern methods, academic study and national, international and sometimes inter-hemispherical hands-on wine-making experience. Juan’s father, Antonio, tends and overseas the vines, with, another Antonio, presumably first born son.
Juan’s mother, Amparo, is in charge of the office as well as visits, and his sister, Ines, who studied fine arts and has an art shop in town, is the label designer. Plus, of course, at harvest time the whole family, as well as dedicated friends, lend a hand to the demanding task of collecting the grapes at the optimum time as well as keeping them in perfect order. As Sly said – it’s a family affair.
And the result? Well, very good wines, at sensible prices!
Pigar Chardonnay 2014, which although grown in Spanish sunshine, is more like a Burgundy white wine, than a fruit salad of a New World Chardy. I’ve tasted some similar offerings from the Languedoc, so I guess I’m talking here about a Spanish wine with a slightly French Spin, which can surely only be a good thing!
The Chardonnay in question has come from a single vineyard. The grapes were carefully harvested, taken post-haste to the bodega where they underwent a cool, short maceration period, with a view to the extraction of the best aromas that the skins and the juice can muster.
Following a cool and slow fermentation the wine was then kept with its lees undergoing regular stirring, where the yeast sediment is allowed to drop to the bottom of the tank, only to be disturbed – a process which helps produce the full aromatic profile as well as adding an endearing creaminess to the final wine.
You’ll find a white floral fragrance on the nose which carries through onto the palate supplemented by a little citrus fruit and, unusually, some ripe apple and particularly pear notes. It’s a refreshing wine, so easy to drink as an aperitif as well as with salads and fish. I suspect that, over the years to come, there will be a change in the flavour and aroma profiles of this wine, making it even more intriguing and enjoyable.
Of course the emblematic variety of DOP Utiel-Requena is Bobal, an ancient grape which has recently started to venture out from under the shadow of more famous Spanish varieties and international grapes too. There are plantings elsewhere in the Valencia area, most notably DOP Manchuela, but in the rest of the wine world, it’s rare.
A shame, as Bobal has a lot to offer. Expect black cherry fruit on the nose and palate which comes through any other secondary and tertiary aromas and flavours imparted via the soils and micro-climates in which the vines are grown.
Pigar Bobal is a monovarietal coming from the one vineyard. The grapes are carefully selected and, following a two day maceration extracting colour, of course, but also aroma, they are fermented using local wild yeast. During fermentation the cap, formed by the grape skins, aptly called the ‘sombrero’, is broken regularly with stirring to ensure greater extraction.
Post alcohol fermentation the wine is aged, following its malolactic fermentation, in the same French oak barrels for a period of five months – adding depth and a touch of complexity with a little flavour boost too.
I can’t say whether this is my favourite of the reds, I really like them both, but it may just wine it by, appropriately, a nose! There’s a richness to it, though you wouldn’t call it a big wine, and this volume also has elegance and finesse. We enjoyed with a meat casserole as well as cheese and whilst it pairs very well with quite rich food it doesn’t need it. Very enjoyable red wine, exemplary wine making!
Pigar Syrah has a similar label and, as I’ve intimated, it’s similarly enjoyable! I don’t want to repeat myself all the time, how boring, but I do have to say once more that I do really appreciate Spanish Syrah which when grown at altitude in Spain has the dual benefit of chilled nights and glorious daytime sunshine.
As the cursed global warming continues (this has to be the mildest and warmest so-called Winter that I’ve had here in 19 years!) wine-makers will have to address the issue, changing modern, taught practise and experience as well as traditional methods, according to the needs of the plants, and of course, the desired wines. Too much sun and little respite at night will produce flabby wines without that essential acidic edge.
This of course does not apply to Bodegas Pigar’s wines, nor will it in the future, I’m sure, with Juan at the helm (and in the future, who knows, his children too?).
Fruit is to the fore – you’d expect blackberry, and there’s a lick of blackcurrant too, but there’s a delightful liquorice note too with some cedar and a distant stony and forest undergrowth minerality. It’s understated but you may find a little, typical black pepper on the nose, and as black olives were on my mind as I’d been cooking with them earlier, I picked up a tiny aroma and flavour of these, unsalted!
These are the first wines from Bodegas Pigar and priced as they are, between 6€ and 9€, they represent very good value for money. I think they will go up in price as they become wider known as they are of necessity a limited production. One from whom to buy now, and one to watch!
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NB Breaking Wine News!! I now have my own Radio Programme, the Fine Wine & Gourmet Dine Programme with Colin Harkness on Total FM 91·8 and via the internet at www.totalfm.es . It’s fortnightly on Sundays from 7pm to 8pm and my next programme is Sunday 21st February. It’s going to be a mix of on-air wine and food tasting, and of course wine/food pairing. I’ll be interviewing bodega owners, wine-makers, chefs and restaurateurs. It’s going to be a real treat for your senses, so please listen in as often as you can and by all means be inter-active too!