BODEGAS VEREDA REAL
Quite where Pedro Cárcel finds the time to make his own wines, market them and in fact run his winery I’m not really sure. But having tasted them it’s clear that he is able to devote enough time, effort and indeed passion to them, despite his multifarious other interests.
Pedro is the Spanish equivalent of the Flying Winemakers, that multi-national fraternity of winemaking experts who travel, often long distances, to advise others on how to obtain the best out of their vineyards/grapes/barrels/winery. Such luminaries have quietly, almost secretly, made a dramatic improvement to the quality of wines from the Iberian peninsular and should be applauded for so doing.
Pedro does likewise, albeit on a smaller scale as, rather than the winemaking world being his oyster, he operates really only in the Valencia region, with occasional forays into Murcia. Nevertheless his is a telling contribution and if you’ve tasted wines from DO Alicante, DO Utiel-Requena and DO Valencia it’s entirely possible that you’ve tasted his efforts!
The temperatures in the pristine vineyard where we met him near Utiel, off the road from Valencia to Madrid, were furnace-like in July and our water reserves were quickly used up on the journey to HQ, Bodegas Vereda Real, where thankfully the temperature control was to our benefit as much as to that of the wines reposing in barrel.
Barrel, or in Spanish barrica, – a simple self-explanatory word, but at Bodegas Vereda Real a science in itself. Pedro’s premise it seems is that whilst the fruit is of course central to the wine, playing the starring role, oak too can play an Oscar-winning supporting part.
However, there’s oak and there’s oak. Traditional in Spain, French oak and American oak are ubiquitous. Pedro likes to experiment with oaks from different countries. You’ll see wines ageing in French oak (from at least two different areas of France), American, Central Europe and Caucasian oak and he’s very proud of the fact that Bodegas Vereda Real is the first Valencian winery to use native Spanish oak.
Needless to say there is an oak element in most of the wines that come from this bodega but they add complexity, depth and flavour complementing the primary and secondary fruit flavours that are also captured. I tasted a raft of their wines, one presented in a most impressive wooden box embossed with a metal seal, a Vino d’Autor, of top quality!
First a word about Utiel-Requena’s darling, indigenous grape variety, Bobal. A stunning blueberry/purple in youth with a keen minerality, wines made with Bobal age gracefully taking on deeper and darker colours and autumnal, earthy aromas supporting dark fruits like blackberry and blackcurrant, sometimes with figs and dates in there too! It is a super variety and should be sought out.
Bobalia Roble 2006, as the name implies, is made entirely with Bobal, with a short ageing in French and Spanish oak. It has rich dark forest fruits on the nose and palate with that characteristic mineral aroma supported by a slight vanilla from the oak. It’s fresh but with some power too.
Selectto Crianza 2004 has Bobal in the blend, but smoothly rubbing shoulders with Tempranillo, Syrah and Merlot – a Franco-Hispanic wine with an Utiel-Requena spin! Dark cherry in colour there is a touch of that fruit about the flavour too, with balsamic notes, blueberry and ripe blackberry plus a distant a whiff of tobacco, emanating no doubt from its eclectic oak mix (France, Hungary and Spain). Good drinking with and without food.
Ettnos Reserva 2003 is a grown-up wine for the dining table. Cabernet Sauvignon makes an appearance here, along with Bobal and Syrah, giving the wine a deeper and darker colour and added age-ability. A structured wine with complexity and power and yet a delicate fragrance too. There are toasty, smoked notes and rich dark fruits.
There are, I believe, fewer bodegas during these less tranquil times, making Gran Reserva, a style of wine which, if it disappears totally will, in my view, be much lamented. Bodegas Vereda Real’s 1999 wholly Bobal Gran Reserva proves my point with elegance and aplomb. I hope they continue to make this style of wine.
On opening, the aromas waft out of the bottle like the congenial genie from the lamp, enticing all within sniffing distance to stop and linger, as indeed the perfume does. Watch out or there’ll soon be a crowd! It’s had 26 months in a selection of new oak from various different countries and whilst easily identifiable as a part of the whole it is complementary to the overall perfume and taste. There are dark fruits, slatey minerality as well as some liquorice notes – a powerful and yet elegant wine that requires a fine dinner, good company, a long night and more than one bottle!
The aforementioned Vino d’Autor, named rather aptly, Tesoro de Requena 2005, will suit those who prefer a slightly lighter mouthfeel in their wines. For me it is a wine that embodies finesse, grace and elegance with lovely deep fruits, full-on flavour and integral oak nuances. A wine to enjoy and savour with food, between best friends and lovers!