BODEGAS DANIEL BELDA
DO ALICANTE & DO VALENCIA
Bodegas Daniel Belda is practically synonymous with Denominación de Origen Valencia, from whence come most of its wines. Whilst nowhere near as large as that huge leviathon of a Valencian bodega, Vicente Gandía, Danelda Belda certainly isn’t plodding along in the wake of that far larger concern. Rather, it’s ploughing its own considerable furrow in a different, and yet at times, converging direction.
There’s nothing like confusing the reader with a heavy mixed metaphor at the beginning of an article, I always say! Stick with me though, you’re going to hear about some super wines, with sensible price tags too!
In the wine world there is much talk at the moment, and perhaps for the last five years, of the burgeoning market that is China. Robert Parker the world famous American wine critic is moving his extremely successful wine business ‘out East’; one of the biggest growth industries in Hong Kong currently is that of the temperature and humidity controlled fine wine storage centres (with spin off businesses such as security cashing in on the act too); the worlds most famous wine magazine, Decanter, now holds not one but two major and most prestigious wine competitions, the original in London of course, but also in the Orient.
Indeed there are now several French Chateaux owned by mega-wealthy highly successful Chinese businessmen, which is perhaps not so surprising considering that some of those purchases will have been made from Japanese owners who started the Eastern business ball rolling. Plus, as China’s economy grows as predicted, we can expect to see more acquisitions, not only in France, but world-wide!
Clearly European wineries including, of course, bodegas in Spain are suddenly making concerted efforts to get in on the act and sell their wines to Chinese people in China.
But a brief look at the business ledgers of Bodegas Daniel Belda will tell you that selling wine to the Chinese is not such an innovation – they’ve been doing it for approaching twenty years! In some parts of China, until this huge concerted European -wide sales push, European wine equals Daniel Belda!
I’m a little ambivalent when it comes to writing about the wines of DO Valencia and DO Alicante. There’s a continuous tussle going on inside my head, journalist v consumer! I’m both and and whilst the former demands that I tell all, the latter, selfishly, wants me to keep it to myself! You see the top wines of Alicante and Valencia are amongst the best in Spain, but they are not burdened with correspondingly high prices.
Moreover, it goes deeper than that as the value for money price/quality ratio creed applies to most of the wines produced here in South East Spain. So when I open my big mouth and tell those who are prepared to listen (through Cork Talk which isn’t just read by the 150,000 weekly Costa News readers but which is also picked up all over the world, according to my in-box, by internet) about the quality of the wines here and how they are sold at well short of bank-breaking prices I’m really risking a price hike following a probable increase in demand.
I’m sure you can see my dilemma! However it’s always the journalsit in the who wines the battle and this time it’s the wines of Daniel Belda which are under the spotlight.
I first tasted a Daniel Belda wine a few years after arriving here in Spain, which it’s true was rather late. My writing in those early days was to satisfy a reader demand for knowledge of wines from the more famous areas of production. But as my own tasting experience expanded so did my understanding of the quality that is here in Spain but produced by the underdogs to use yet another metaphor – but I aint finished yet!
I was delighted to see Blackburn beat Arsenal in the FA Cup recently – as is often the case, we British like to cheer for the underdog. So my writing took several tangents years ago where I tried to include of course the big names but also attempted to showcase wines from mother areas as well. And why not Valencia and Alicante.
Daniel Belda is a founder member of the Terres dels Alforíns group of a dozen or so bodegas whose aim it is to make fine wine, sold at approachable prices, with the benefit of modern technology and methods going hand in hand with tried and tested traditional practise, whilst at the same time keeping a careful eye of the environment and the soils they’ll be passing on to the next generation.
In this alone they are to be congratulated, but when you consider the excellent wines that they are making, well you’d be forgiven for turning congratulations into adulation!
The first Belda wine I tasted was a Pinot Noir (approx 6€) – a most difficult vine to grow, one that has to be mollycoddled and I was keen to see how such a grumpy old vine can adapt to conditions so different to those of its native Burgundy. It wasn’t half-bad, and has continued to improve as the vines have become older and more established.
However Daniel Belda also likes to use, and for this there should be more applause, indigenous grape varieties as well as usurping foreigners. Verdil is the white wine grap variety that has been grown in Valencia for centuries during which time it has adapted perfectly to the hash conditions that are common during the growing system in this one of the hottest, driest and most humid areas of Spain.
Belda’s Verdil (approx. 5€) is refreshing with herbaceous notes, some green apple and a lick of citrus acidity, some fennel and just a faint blanched almond character.
Ca Belda (approx 20€), the medal winning, modern style wine that still manages more than just a nod to tradition is a lovely very dark red wine, and no wonder as it’s made with the dark skinned indigenous varieties Monastrell and Garnacha Tintorera, which is also one of the very few varieties that has a red coloured flesh too!
The wine is aged in oak, but they are a little coy about telling us how time in oak – this is because each vintage will vary, according to the ripeness of the grapes and the resulting wine after fermentation. The oak ageing process is designed to add to the complexity of the wine and of course to its depth of flavour, but this musn’t exclude the primary fruit flavours.
It’s a fine wine, one of the best from the cellar and will grace any dinner table.
Migjorn (approx 10€) is a wine made from French Varieties Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from a particular vineyard (in the Alicante area, hence the wine is labelled DO Alicante) whose soils and micro-climate are considered best for these varieties.
Post fermentation, which takes place in French oak barricas, the wine is then aged for for a further 12 months in French Oak barrels. However the time in French oak, the more subtle of the oak varieties used by winemakers, is well integrated allowing the fruit to come though but with a depth of flavours and some pleasing complexity.
There are notes of bay leaf, fresh and torn in the hand, some endearing minerality too, but an overall rich fruit-filled mouthful with the oak’s influence adding to the significant length of the wine – i.e. the length of time tnhat you can still taste and enjoy the wine after swallowing.
These, of course are only a few of the large range of wines available at Bodegas Daniel Belda and I urge you to give them a try!