Concurso Burbuja de Oro y Fiesta de la Burbuja . VÍ Vid reports from the Westin Hotel with FASCV.

On Monday 8 July, Valencia´s Sumillers Federation came together for their tenth Fiesta de la Burbuja. This is an event which was postponed last year, and previously had been been held in La Ferradura restaurant for a couple of years but which in its short life has been held alternatively in Valencia or Alicante.

This year it was the turn of Valencia to hold the event and the chosen venue was the garden terrace of the Westin Hotel.

This is a fair which is a celebration of all things sparkling in the world of wine! Each year a specific wine is invited and in this event recognition was given to the former cava houses of Penedes who recently left the DO Cava and formed their own organisation, Corpinnat. This was partly a reaction to the overgrowth of Cava in Cataluña (some of it of dubious quality) and a recognition that the houses concerned were increasingly producing better quality wines from the best area. The houses making up Corpinnat are:- Gramona, Llopart, Nadal, Recaredo, Sabaté i Coca, Torelló, Huguet-Can Feixes, Júlia Bernet y Mas Candí. All produce wholly ecological grapes and make the wines within their own estates, the equivalent of Pago status.

Their invitation was combined with their sponsorship of the 1st Competition for Sumillers, the Concurso Burbuja de Oro in which contestants received a masterclass tasting of six wines from Corpinnat, followed by a blind tasting of one wine which had to be identified and specifically described.

38 contestants had the confidence to participate and from these 12 correctly identified the ‘blind’ wine. Of these two were judged to have drawn in the task forcing a further contest in which they had to answer 10 written questions. From this head-to-head Arturo Giner, of Masquecatas and Oryza restaurant, a regular contact of VÍ Vid emerged as the first champion and received the trophy designed by Emili Rabal Vidrer and which represents the bubbles emerging from a cava bottle in the form of a bottle surmounted by a cava flute.

Following the tasting the Federation held a celebratory lunch for the bodegas exhibiting their wines, or their distributors, as well as the press and other wine related organisations such as Verema at which a wide selection of the wines were available to taste. This was held in one of the Westin Hotels salons and was attended by the hotel´s Director Rocio Cibran.

Following the lunch the gardens were opened to professionals from the hotel, restaurant and catering trade who were able to taste all the wines from the bodegas exhibiting.

These included those from the remaining houses of DO Cava (Cataluña) such as Raventos Cordoniu, Freixenet, Juvé i Camps, Pinord, Alta Alella Mirgin, Galán Mirgin, Durán Galán, Raventos Rosell and Miquel Pons.

AOC Champagne is always represented at this event and this year Maxi Bao, a FASCV member and oustanding sumiller of his generation was showing the wines from Maison Luc Gaidoz-Forget from Ludes in the Mountains of Rheims.

Portugal also showed five traditional method wines from the upper Douro, Barraida and Vinho Verde regions, a Pinot Noir rosado from Campolargo being one of our favourite wines of the fair and very fortunately available in Valencia from Amanda Navarro Flores at Terras de Portugal.

Cavas from Requena were well represented with UVÉ, Pago de Tharsys, Murviedro, Vegalfaro, Dominio de la Vega and Vera de Estenas and the award winning Adriano from Bodegas Haya all showing their wines.

Sparkling wines from DO Valencia (Reymos Cheste) and Alicante (Bocopa) were well represented and for the first time Traditional Method and Ancestral Method wines from Victor Bellmunt of Cabanes in IGP Castellon.

His distributor Ardisval were also showing wines from Bodegas Utielanas amongst others.

Following the sessions for professionals from the sector the doors were thrown open to the public who were able to buy tickets for the wines and various tapas provided by the Westin.

This was as always a highly professional event under the direction Of Mari Lu Martin and David Remollar, former and current Presidents of the Federation and a joyous celebration of Traditional Method wines, Cavas, Champagnes and sparkling wines, a fitting `send off´ for the sector before the Summer holiday´s start. It was once again a pure pleasure to be invited by FASCV to report on their very professional competition and the rest of the days events.

Saffron, The Healthy Flavour Enhancer in Paella; VÍ Vid Reports From the Marina Beach Club.

 

Monday, 17 June we were invited to a masterclass organised by Wikipaella, DO Azafran La Mancha, Paco Alonso and with Raul Cob (Chef at Cap I Casal) and Juan  Carlos Galbis, at the Marina Beach Club, who were to cook a traditional Valencian Paella.

This was not a random `jolly´, but rather a serious event at which the message was put across about correctly selecting ingredients for the emblematic dish of the region and how by returning to their correct use the dish can be made more accessible.

So, what is the problem that has been identified?

Laziness and ignorance seem to be the answer and this has led to those who suffer from gluten intolerance often rejecting paella in Restaurants in the region.

The reality is that the use of artificial colourants and flavorants has crept into the cooking in restaurants and homes across Valencia because it is convenient.

In particular three ingredients are at fault, Stock, tomato and colourants. If you buy industrial tomato `frito´ rather than simply grating ripe natural tomatos, or add artificial colourants such as `tartrazine´ and use stock cubes to build the flavours rather than adding water when the base flavours of the paella have been created by correctly caramelizing the ingredients first then you will ( albeit unknowingly) be adding un-natural ingredients which will affect those with food intolerances.

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Two of these three can be very simply eradicated as we say by grating tomatos and using water (the traditional method) and the third is by using the best quality saffron.

On Monday the Denomination of Origin Azafran La Mancha were very much part of the masterclass. Foodies know well that La Mancha produces the best quality saffron but even they do not necessarily know how to use it properly. In a fascinating and educational session the myths were dispelled and we were shown convincingly how it improves the quality of a paella when its potential is maximised.

DO Azafran La Mancha is a grouping of just 22 Producer/Packagers all of whom have to put the seal of the DO on the packaging. And don’t be fooled by ‘azafran manchego´, this is a fraud.

The producers harvest by hand and oven dry the strands (which means they do not need to be heated before using- something which is necessary with poor quality saffron) before packing.

Genuine saffron contains Crocinas, Picrocrocinas, Kaempferol and Safranal which between them add colour, flavour and aroma and are entirely natural. As a result you are adding a natural flavour enhancer which reduces the need for salt or (heaven forfend) MSG.

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The most effective way to use saffron is to grind the strands in a mill, mortar or between the fingers. This can be added directly but is better infused in water. 20190617_121804The ultimate way to do this is to heat 1gm of ground strands in 250ml of water to 65ºC and maintain the temperature for 4-5 hours. At the end all of the colour and flavour will have transferred to the water and the strands will be white. This mixture can then be stored in the fridge.

1gm contains between 4-500 strands and costs around 7€. However when you consider the correct amount to use is 6-7 strands per head in a rice dish, the real cost is around 0.05€ per head and not much more than a short squirt of the liquid needs to be added to the dish before the rice is added.20190617_112803

Wikipaella, together with the Tourism department of the Town Hall are promoting the use of natural ingredients and are aiming to educate restaurants in the City in the correct use of unadulterated products in Paella not just to make the experience of eating paella better but healthier and more inclusive too.

After all, ‘Paella’ is the 4th most Googled dish in the world!

Following the presentation Juan Carlos Galbis and Raul Cob cooked a traditional Valencian Paella for those attending, making an infusion with the saffron to illustrate how it is best used. The photographs below show clearly that the saffron added sufficient colour and flavour to the dish.

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VÍ Vid welcomes this initiative. We have commented in the past on the quality of the rice in at least three of the recent ‘concursos’ we have attended. The question of the use of saffron as an infusion has reached the point where it needs to be taught in the CdT´s and Cookery schools so that its use becomes normalised and the next generation of chefs in the Valencian Community become experts with this ‘liquid gold.’

 

Bodegas Les Freses. VÍ Vid Visits and Reports from Jesus Pobre

The new Bodega

Les Freses sits under the mountain of Montgo, overlooking the sea. During the night the humidity levels are immense and in the morning the vineyards and the vines are bathed in moisture which is retained in the soils. During the afternoon the breezes dry them out again keeping them healthy and free from mildew.

Historically winemaking has been carbon dated to 7 centuries before Christ in the nearby archeological site of L`Alt de Benimaquia, one of the first Iberian peoples settlements and it is quite possible the red grape remains found there were the original variety to come to the peninsular from Tyre.

For some months the Valencian wine world has been awash with reports of some excellent new wines emerging from the Marina Alta in Alicante province and more specifically from an exciting new Bodega, Les Freses in Jesus Pobre.

Having had the opportunity to taste two of these wines and the success they enjoyed at one of our tastings we took the opportunity to arrange a visit on the 19th of June.

Mara Baño who is the winemaker was our hostess, incidentally she is also President of the local Producers Association and qualified primarily as a sumiller before going on to University in Valencia to gain her winemakers qualifications.

Moscatel grapes.

She is passionate about the area, the Moscatel variety and the possibilities for producing new wines with differing techniques. Undoubtedly Mara is a winemaker to watch and Les Freses a bodega to follow.

More recently, until the onset of pylloxera, Jesus Pobre was a relatively well off town. Moscatel is a rare variety in that it produces table grapes, raisins and wine. Mara started our tour on the edge of the vineyard where the grapes would have been blanched briefly in caustic soda before being dried in the sun during the day and under the protection of the Riu Rau at night. This was the way raisins, or panses, were traditionally made. The men worked the vineyards and the women packed the raisins in wooden boxes in Denia harbour before they were shipped to the UK and elsewhere, thus earning two incomes from the same produce.

Distinctive leaf of the Moscatel de Alejandria

Les Freses takes its name from the fact that it was, until the grapes were planted, a strawberry farm. The previous owner had reunited the parcels ( split by inheritance into many different ownerships) into a single finca and Mara now enjoys 14 hectares of Moscatel de Alejandria, with some Moscatel de Grano Menudo , Forcatell, and Giró. She has planted 42 different clones of the variety to evaluate how they react to the soils and to avoid all her vines producing ripe fruit ready for picking on the same day.

Her vineyards are split in two and the vineyard surrounding the bodega are on free draining red sandy soils (l’ Alt) and a second parcel across the river where the soils are white and chalky (l’ Alqueria). Interestingly the area enjoys a microclimate and climate change has not advanced the harvest as it has in some other areas.

Red sandy soils of L’ Alt Vineyard

Not everything went to plan however and of her original planting 80% were lost the first year to drought when they endured 400 days without any rain. She subsequently installed a watering system on the trellises before replanting but has never needed to use it! She has planted roses at the ends of the rows of vines because they react to bugs and similar diseases such as mildew a week before the vines. This allows for treatment to commence promptly and they use ladybirds to destroy the bugs and sexual confusion techniques against the vine-moth. Like so many new winemakers no chemicals are used in the vineyards.

Mara Baño explains the process in the bodega

The pruning cuttings are chopped up and ploughed back into the soils as green manure and will undertake 6-7 ‘podas in verde’. Mara takes about 3.5kg of fruit from each of the vines to maintain quality and concentration. She picks a little earlier than some to obtain a must with a lower potential alcohol level.

The grapes are picked by hand in 12.5kg boxes, taken to the bodega, de-stalked and pressed in a pneumatic press which is more efficient than the vertical variety and avoids oxidisation better.

The stalks and pips and skins go to a local goat herder in return for his cheese whist some is returned to the soils for the iron content. Mara even uses some to make her own alcohol for Vermut for example. The yeasts are autoctonal, not commercial and she starts the fermentation by treading around 300kg of grapes. This is added to each of the temperature controlled tanks to commence the process.

Modern copies of 7th BC tinajas

Mara is also an experimental winemaker and makes a wine in terracotta tinajas. Not any old tinajas though. She commisioned three copies of the R1 type discovered in the Benimaquia bodega. These egg shaped vessels are 350litre with handles in the neck and and bung holes at the bottom. They have one incredible property, they do not need to be cooled to control the fermentation if stood in a well ventilated space although Mara found this out after the first batch was gaining temperature rapidly!

The wine must be very good because the first batch was sold intact to Bon Amb restaurant nearby and the second and third to restaurants including Peix i Brasses and you will have to go there to try them! Actually 90% of her wine is sold to local restaurants.

We tasted three wines on the terrace with salazones and strong cheeses, almonds and raisins.

Dry white and sweet white from Moscatel

The first is the dry white Les Freses Moscatel 2018 which is available in the market and has just won the award for the best young white wine in DOP Alicante. It is produced from the vines around the bodega. Very pale yellow with steel and green flashes , the nose has rose and jasmine, peach and apricot and none of the pungency the variety can produce. It is elegant on the nose and in the mouth equally elegant and refined, the rose is replaced by subtle hints of Turkish delight, citrus notes, a wonderful balancing acidity and a long fine finish.

The second was the same wine but from the vineyards across the river with  the chalky soils. It is awaiting its labels from the DO and will then be released onto the market. It is very similar in appearance, it is the nose where the differences are apparent. Herby, grassy with fennel and spicy ( this could easily be mistaken for a Viognier) but also the fruit (peach and apricot) were more marked and it is quite perfumed. In the mouth it was drier and even finer.

Rosado and Red from Les Freses

The third wine is the Dolç, sold in mallet shaped half litre bottles, a very elegant presentation. It is a dull gold in colour, with a very concentrated nose. In the mouth it is a revelation, rich, sweet, with a good acidity balancing the wine and avoiding the cloying sensation so many sweet Moscatel wines can have. The grapes are late harvested, in September and then dried in the sun before pressing. It was a perfect marriage with salty cheese and woud be excellent with blue cheeses as well.

Mara produces a rosado and a red from Giró as well but these are sold already.

Mara explains the scalding pan for the raisins.

It was a pleasure to share the visit with Colin Harkness, fellow English wine writer ( Costa Blanca News) and a group of English residents in the area who were also discovering the delights of this exciting new bodega.

VÍ Vid will be following progress and developments very closely! Thank you Mara for an exceptional visit.

21 Days of Gastronomy Heaven in El Puig de Santa Maria; VÍ Vid reports from Huerto de Santa Maria.

INVITACIO 19-01 El PuigYesterday 11 May saw the start of the Jornades Gastronòmiques in El Puig de Santa Maria which last until 1 May and where 7 local restaurants show a series of plates on their menus which reflect the local produce, traditional dishes and dishes which are heavily based around Semana Santa (Easter Week) which is at the heart of the 21 days.

 

 

El Puig is a town rich in history, 15 minutes to the North of  Valencia and easily accessed by the V21 or A7 (bypass) by car /15 mins), or Line 6 on the Railway It has a small market on a Thursday and it was here that Jaume 1 planned the conquest of Valencia.

There are the Royal Monastery to visit (where the Royal family still hold official receptions in their private suite), its museum of Printing and Graphic Arts , the Cartuja d’Ara Christi and more modern underground refuges and trenches from the civil war.

The town is almost the most Northern in the Horta Nord county of Valencia, rich in the growing of fruit and vegetables which allow many of the local restaurants to claim KM 0 status for the ingredients they use in their dishes.

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Part of the Huerto de Santa Maria Complex

Famous for its rice dishes ( Fetge de Bou  https://wp.me/p7dfvi-1Bo), Arros Caldoso de Acelgas (chard) Arros de  Pollo, Conejo y Caracoles, ( with mint – not rosemary) Paella de ‘Busca’ ( literally a paella made up from whatever workers on their way home could find in the ‘marjal’ (frogs, birds, cabbage, onions, peas, artichokes or eels). It is famous also for its ‘ollas’ or stews. ( The marjal is a strip of land, a natural margin between the sea and the land stretching down the coast from Sagunto towards Valencia and is rich in wildlife).

Yesterday mornings presentation was held in the Huerto de Santa Maria complex to the South of the market square and Royal Monastery. Each of the restaurants participating explained a little about their philosophy and the menu they were providing during the Jornades. The event was sponsored by Mascleta beers.

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Seven restaurants are participating in the Jornades with set menus at fixed prices as follows:-

  1. Marisma, Playa del Puig. 17€.

Entrantes

Ensalada al perfuma de mostaza

Saquito de ajoarriero

Salteado alcochofas con Jamon Ibérico

Principal

Medallones de solomillo Ibérico lacado al sésamo

Cabracho a la plancha con Verduras

Postre

Pudding de Fartón.

2. AnaVi, Avenida Virgen del Puig. 17€

Entrantes

Juballa, Bocadito de pan de pita con pollo adobado con especias etc

Pulpo en tempura

Huevo a baja temperatura

Principal

Paella de Puntillas

Costillas a baja temperatura a la barbacoa

Postre

Torrijas con helado de calabaza.

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3. Finca San Jose, Partida de la Maimona.24€

Entrantes

Puerro con salsa de Portobello y tomillo

Tarta de Pulpo frito con aceituna negra

Paletilla de Conejo al ‘Bee Gee’

Principal

Arroz de Carabanero y Salmonete (2pax)

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Postre

Tartare de Fresas con sopa de leche merengada.

4. Huerta de Santa Maria, Camino Puig de Cebolla. 24€

Entrantes

Coca Valenciana de Sardina con tomate, cebolla y brotes verdes.

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Conejo confitada, con Naranja

Principal

Arroz con Col y Bacalao

Fidueá de Pato con Foie y Boletus

Arros Meloso de Pluma Iberica con Setas

Postre

Cremoso de Citricos

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5. Moray, Camino Santa Elvira 24€

Entrantes

Ensalada Fresca con Tomate, Ventresca y Salazones

Crujiente de Alcachofa

Virutas de Foie con Tostas de Pasas

Principal

Paella de Marisco (2pax)

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Filete de Lubina de Cuscus Negra.

Postre

Torrija Valenciana con Helado de Horchata

6. L’ Aigua Fresca, Av Blasco Ibañez, 17€

Entrantes

Albondigas de Bacalao

Cocas de Maiz con dos Rellenos

Postre

‘Almoixavena’ con Helado de Citricos

7. Alhacena, Av Virgen del Puig,  24€

Entrantes

Ajoarriero, Sardina de Bota, etc

Ensalada de Pato con Hojas Tiernas de Espinacas y Naranja

Croquetas de Potaje de Vigilia

Principal

(Comida) Paella de Higado de Rape, Pilotes de Sepia y Garbanzos y Escarola

 

 

 

(Cena) Bacalao Gratinado con alli i oli de Membrillo y Tomate Confitado

Postre

Torrija de Semana Santa

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Chefs or representatives from 5 of the restaurants participating.

We  recommend booking ( especially in Holy Week) but on the basis of the plates we sampled during the presentation and the photographs above you are guaranteed an excellent tourism visit and gastronomic experience wherever you decide to go! We recommend you try it!

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Journey to Verdú & Cantó Saffron Spain, in the prime on life, a young company more than 125 years old. VI vid reports from Novelda.

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Once you get the door of Verdú & Cantó facilities located at Novelda, your mind takes you back to your first memories of childhood… aromas… colours… feelings… sensations…

There are many myths and legends about saffron … What do you know about this “red gold”? What is saffron good for? Since its properties were discovered thousands of years ago, saffron has become one of the most expensive and appreciated spices.

IMG-20190409-WA0021The origins of this Company date back to 1890 when Mr. JOSÉ VERDÚ CANTÓ goes on his first journey to the fields of La Mancha region to select from among the crops the best batches of saffron and market them in several countries. Nowadays it is a leading company in the selection, packaging and marketing of saffron, spices and seasonings, which it markets in over 45 countries.

Their product range has extended to other spices and condiments such as paprika, blends of spices or salts in grinders and botanical cocktail ingredients, developing of a broad range of innovative presentations adapted to the needs of the consumer, building renowned and prestigious brands as POTE, ZAFFERANIA, TOQUE and SYREN.

This family-owned company has pioneered the strictest analytical controls starting with the arrival of the prime material, obtained from the best batches of saffron straight from the farmers, up to the final product. To this end, all development procedures are aimed at obtaining results that improve the quality of every single product, maintaining its quality and purity guarantees.flor de azafrán

POTE brand has been part of home cooking for generations but was born in difficult times, after the Spanish Civil War. Its excellent value for money has been the key to filling so many dishes with color, aroma and flavour. A brand that has passed a life-time of Spanish generations. It was the first ground saffron in the market and it is the secret that fills the homemade recipes of much of our cuisine with color and flavor.

Hand-picked in the various fields which account for most of the region ́s scenery, img012ZAFFERANIA ́S saffron can boast an appellation of origin protected by La Mancha ́s saffron ruling Council. A certification which guarantees its origin as well as its penetrating aroma besides its delicious taste and the unmistakable color of each filament. These precious filaments have always been historically considered to be the best saffron in the world.

SYREN is their leading brand in the Arab market, also present in much of the world. It is a real guarantee of quality and compliance with the strictest Verdú & Cantó standards. IMG-20190409-WA0003The Syren production is selected from the best crops, with its characteristic strand size, floral and scent. The Syren range also includes different products made with saffron such as almonds, tea or honey.

With TOQUE, under the slogan “LIFE with a SPECIAL TOUCH,” IMG-20190409-WA0005they believe it is possible to convert a boring dinner into an exotic dinner, between a simple drink and a creative cocktail, between routine and adventure, and that you can travel without leaving the table. IMG-20190409-WA0018 (2)Because Toque is the small details that change it all. Their grinders allow the consumer to regulate the size of the input to your liking. In this way you get the freshly ground spice size you are looking for with its aroma. Verdú & Cantó have a selected range of ethnic flavours, from Thailand to the Caribbean, with stops in India, Morocco, and Italy that add a dash of intense International flavour to your dishes.

TOQUE Botanicals for Mixology is their firm commitment to the barmans trade,IMG-20190409-WA0014 a decision that has a lot to do with the philosophy of their brand Toque, the search for top quality ingredients and the development of innovative products for both domestic and professional use are part of their strategy to implant the love for creative cocktails in both National and International markets. It is a collection which is designed to be directly added to your mixed drinks, without the need for any unnecessary preparation of the herbs, thus ensuring a clean, safe and identifiable end result.

Verdú and Cantó have signed with Pepe Orts to create a collection of botanicals for catering and to advise the new creative mixologists that join their community, he is the prestigious specialist barman known for investigating different botanicals and their use in cocktails. If anyone knows how to give a special touch to the drinks it is certainly him.

IMG-20190409-WA0051_rrFew chefs can count on a Michelin star and possibly none of them know as much about saffron as this chef and entrepreneur. Referred to by The New York Times as “The Saffron Queen” María José San Román is the best ambassador for their saffron throughout the world. With her, they study new culinary applications to create both traditional and innovative recipes to claim the value of saffron. We went to her restaurant “Monastrell” for lunch, where she showed us the different ways to use the saffron in all her dishes.

 

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Bodega Dehesa La Luna: VÍ Vid Visits the Biodiversity Project in La Mancha.

 

Occasionally VÍ Vid are invited to visit Bodegas outside the Valencian Community and last week on Tuesday 26 March such an opportunity came up to join a small group of press colleagues on a visit to La Mancha.

We had been invited to visit Bodega Dehesa La Luna near La Roda (Albacete), a new project on 3000 hectares of virgin land in the Campo de Montiel. The vast majority of the land is given over to the flora and fauna indigenous to the area and can count on a wealth of wildlife on the land encircling the new vineyards.

 

Here one can observe birds of prey including Imperial and Royal eagles, Peregine falcons, Goshawks, Kites, Great bustards, and many other birds including wild duck and skylarks plus wild rabbits and hares. During our tour of this reserve we also saw partridge and a wild cat bobbing across the track ahead of us.

Some 800+ hectares are given over to agricultural projects such as Olives, Cereals Almonds, Pistachios and Honey, all of them organic and the family Group also includes Extrem, the Extremadura based company producing the excellent Jamons and Lomos of Bellota fed Iberian pigs and Chorizos and Salcichons.

The harvesting of the cereals and other farm products is very respectful to the life cycle and nesting needs of the birds for example.

The vineyards are similarly managed with no chemicals used and the cuttings from the pruning are used as a natural form of composting which helps protect the soils from the sun and wind.

 

Just 63 hectares are dedicated to vineyard production, again fully organic and certified since February of last year.

The vineyards were first planted in 1998 but significant new planting took place last year as well.

The Vineyards have a mix of varieties including Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha, Graciano and Aglianico (an Italian variety being evaluated which is rustic and acidic and best known for the Basilicata DOCG ‘Aglianico de Vulture’ wines) in red and Viura, Garnacha Blanco, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier in whites.

 

Perhaps most interesting are the vineyard practices as they are applied in support for the vines. We are all familiar with a drive through La Mancha, where extremely neat plots of vines often low in height and ‘en vaso’ populate the open landscape. Newer vines are often supported ‘en espaldera’.

At Dehesa La Luna all varieties of support are being trialled, well, seven different styles. Firstly the vines are all restricted to a single branch on which six buds are allowed to develop. These are exactly one meter apart, the branch stopped pruned to where the next trunk rises so no space is wasted.

The different styles of support are ‘sprawl’,’ semi-sprawl’, ‘vertical’, ‘vertical shaft’, ‘espaldera’, ‘vaso’ and ‘Geneva Double Curtain.’ Each has its own manner of controlling the height and orientation of the overhanging and extensive growth which are good for absorbing solar energy and to protect the vine and the developing grapes from the excess of sun and are key in current studies into climate change and its effects.

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As the vines are currently dormant, ( the vineyards are some 900 metres above sea-level there is no growth at this time of year and the vines have barely started their weeping, signifying the sap is starting to rise) it is difficult to show the ways in which the growth can be controlled differently. Essentially there is a simple double-click mechanism which raises or lowers and fixes the  wires at a different height to allow sunlight in or keep it out by lowering the branches back over the grapes.

 

In the Bodega José Luis Asenso the technical director vinifies the wines separately allowing for blending the varieties and by varying the amounts to try to maintain a consistent style of each wine each every year. Again no chemicals are used in the process.

The Bodega is typically spotless and modern with its stainless steel temperature controlled deposits and oak cones and the barrel room enjoys glass walls so that visitors can observe from the reception, dining and tasting room.  A system of micro-humidifying takes place to keep the air moist and control the temperature of the ageing.

 

Starting with the Garnacha Blanca 2017 (5%Viognier) we tasted a number of the bodegas wines. Pale gold, clean and bright this has a luscious aromatic nose with tropical notes, a distinct note of hydrocarbons (like a good Riesling) and a lot of white stone fruit such as apricot, peach and lychee. In the mouth the citrus notes and  acidity are excellent, balanced by apricot, peach and pepper and is deep and round.

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The Rosado 2018 from the same range is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is pale salmon in colour and is clean and bright. on the nose there is red fruit but it is still a little closed.The entry is good, nice ripe red fruit, with good acidity, and salinity in a long dry finish.

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The 2016 Origenes red is a blend of Tempranillo, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, approximately 1/3rd of each. Deep black cherry in colour the Cabernet predominates on the nose, vegetal but very fine. In the mouth good, ripe fruit and round tannins. All this range is designed to be easy drinking .

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The Gran Luna 2015 has Aglianico, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Syrah and Graciano in a blend. A very deep black cherry colour, this has a very deep fruity nose, black currants, black fruit and Rowentree’s fruit gums. In the mouth it has nice acidity on entry, go0d depth, soft tannins. A truly lovely wine to drink with the Italian variety and Graciano adding a fresh touch.

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The Tempranillo 2015 is a more medium to deep bodied cherry red. With expressive black fruit on the nose, in the mouth there is a touch of alcohol with good round tannins.

This was accompanied by an aperitif of Ibericos from the Extrem range and then a Gazpacho Manchego with partridge, rabbit and hare, followed by a salad of partridge escabeche and for dessert, Torrijas.

 

VÍ Vid would like to thank Pedro Mocholi and Francisco Ruiz De La Torre Esporrin for the invitation and hospitality. These wines will be added to our cellar!

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Bodega Sierra Norte Celebrates its 20th Birthday: VÍ Vid Reports from the Mestalla.

Sierra norte 20

It is hard to believe that Sierra Norte, the Utiel-Requena based bodega with interests throughout the Valencian Community and Jumilla has reached just its 20th birthday! Nonetheless this was celebrated with a tasting of the new wines matched with a selected buffet  from Jamones Gargallo on Monday 4 March in the prestigious VIP balcony of CF Valencia´s Mestalla stadium.

Distributors, the wine press and other guests were invited to enjoy a convivial evening and learn of the bodega´s new major announcement.

 

After three hard years work it will soon be possible to visit the bodega famous for its Pasión range of mono-varietals amongst other wines.

Pasion

Later in the Summer, probably in July, Sierra Norte will open the Casa Calderón, a new bodega on the site of a late Victorian historical predecessor with previous owners including the Mompo family (original Grao exporters) and home to the ‘Dominio de Arenal’, part of Vinival,  who were still producing wines there in the early years of this century.nueva bodega sierra norte The new bodega (8000sqm) will provide capacity for the bodega’s production with exciting modern, efficient and sustainable architecture and a visitor centre whilst the old site will eventually be converted into accommodation to go with the wider wine-tourism package. This will include a barrel park, for ageing the wines, a chapel, a museum, landscaped terrace and garden.DSC_1651

 

Manuel Olmo (Winemaker and manager) gave a brief presentation in which he explained that the ‘first 20 years had been dedicated to the vineyards, production of the wines which have made their own reputation but we have yet to enter into the sector we consider relevant, wine tourism.’

The bodega is surrounded by 50 hectares of vines, which Sierra Norte are now cultivating and bringing round to their wine-making philosophy, organic and sustainable.

The 2018 wines will also be the first to carry the organic wine certificates which Sierra Norte have been working towards together with a certificate accrediting them as suitable for vegans.

2018 had not been the easiest year to produce wine, using careful selection of the grapes at various times and even irrigation, ‘a year of micro-surgery’ as Manuel described it!

We tasted the Mariluna Blanco, clean, fresh and aromatic, the Cerro Bercial Blanco fuller and excellent with the jamon and ibericos which were served during the buffet.

 

The Pasión de Moscatel and Bobal Rosado were also very fresh, clean and expressive.

New wines were also introduced from the bodega’s other sites, Olcaviana from La Roda and Equilibrio,equilibrio sierra norte a range of wines from Jumilla which will include a new Sauvingnon Blanco and differing reds from the Monastrell variety. These are the result of six years work according to Manuel, with a great concentration on the quality of grapes which their elaboration requires.

Indeed, the Equilibrio 9, a wine from the Monastrell variety and from vines with over 40 years of age has just won a gold medal at Mundus Vini as well as a gold at the Asia Wine Trophy . The wine has had 9 months in French and American oak.

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The Cerro Bercial Ladera Los Cantos, a red from Bobal with 60 years of age and Cabernet Sauvignon with 40 years has won a silver medal at the Spanish Winemakers Federation competition. This is a wine with the second (malolactic) fermentation in new French oak barrels and 18 months crianza.

This was a celebration worthy of the career path and development of this bodega. We look forward to reporting further on the opening of the Casa Calderón and new wines from Sierra Norte as they come on-stream.

featured pic Sierra Norte