Tuesday, 10 May, was the turn of Bodegas J. Chivite to present its wines in Valencia. The tasting, one of the best organised and presented took place in `El Poblet´. A combination of Valencia´s triple Michelin starred chef , Quique Dacosta, and some of Navarra and Rioja´s most iconic wines promised much and did not let the invited Media down! Grupo Chivite is one of Spain’s oldest bodegas (1647) to remain in continuous production and is now under the 11th generation of the Chivite family control with president Don Julian Chivite hosting the event. The group have extensive interests in Navarra, Rioja and Rueda as well as holding the exclusivity for importing Champagne from the prestige house , Taittinger.
`El Poblet´ is one of a number of Quique Dacosta´s restaurants and is located near the Central Post office in Valencia´s centre, above `Vuelve Carolina´, a tapas bar in the same group, both renowned for the modern innovation and quality of their menus.
Julian introduced the bodega and told us that Valencia was an area into which they wanted to re-launch their range of wines, wines which already have a strong following in Alicante province. He was accompanied by Diego Talavera, recently appointed as Director General of the group. In conversation he told us he relished the new challenge and it had the benefit of moving him and his young family nearer to his home town.
The tasting and subsequent lunch were organised for the specialised media to allow us to better understand the range of wines and pairing them with food.
It was organised into three phases. A tasting of 9 wines from the Colección (Navarra) and Viña Salceda (Rioja) ranges came first.
The wines from the Colección come from their Legardeta vineyards with very individual soils and climate, giving the wines (particularly Chardonnay and Tempranillo) their characteristics. .
We began with the 2004 Reserva a blend of Tempranillo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with 14 months in a mix of new and old oak. This elegant and still young wine was followed by the 2010, a blend as above but without the Merlot and just 12 months ageing in oak, fresh and silky in the mouth. The 2011 also omits the Merlot and is notable for its range of spices, fruit and sandalwood.
We followed this with three classic riojas from the Conde de la Salceda range, bottled in Magnums. These are pure Tempranillos with 18 months in French oak.
The 2007 is very expressive with a mix of coffee and dark chocolate, is elegant, expressive and complex. A wine to keep and watch the evolution! The 2009 is not yet so developed and is a little more closed on the nose. Subtle and elegant in the mouth it has great ageing potential. Finally the 2010 from a single vineyard with older vines had a different range of fruits on the nose and was powerful on entry, which will reach its optimum potential with a little more development.
The whites were tasted last. Pure Chardonnay´s with 10-11 months ageing in French oak on its lees and regular batonnage. The 2013 was deep yellow in colour, intense and complex and we noted the brioche from the crianza. The 2012 was similar in colour but had more developed notes of tropical fruits and fruitstones. The 2005 was a joy! There were two distinctly different bottles. The first had all the characteristics of a well aged, rich quality Burgundy and was golden in colour. The other was far more reminiscent of a well aged Rioja, much oakier and a deeper colour. Two ways of how a pure Chardonnay can develop and both perfect.
We decamped downstairs to Vuelve Carolina for an aperitif of Taittinger Champagnes whilst the restaurant was prepared for lunch. The Brut Réserve and the Brut Prestige Rosé, both non-vintage are fresh and went well with the finger food offered at the bar to accompany them.
Lunch began with a Ceviche of fresh fish and a tomato snow. This latter dish was incredible for its complex tomato flavours, textures and different temperatures of the ingredients. It was accompanied by the Chivite Las Fincas Rosado 2015, made in collaboration with Juan Mari Arzak, an IGP VdeT 3 Riberas and is a fresh and very pleasant blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo. Very pale in the modern style it had an intense aroma with a very fruity, smooth entry on the palate.
A Parmesan cream base topped with a jelly of 6 basil varieties was accompanied by the Chivite Finca de Villatuerta Chardonnay 2013 (Navarra) with lots of floral and tropical fruit notes and fat and full in the mouth. It stood up to the cheese element very well.
This was followed by a fideuá with baby squid, ink, and a spume of allioli. Probably the best black fideuá we have tasted it was served with the Finca de Villatuerta Syrah 2011 with 14 months crianza. An unmistakable big, spicy and fruity Syrah, with a smoky and long and mineral finish. This dish also went well with the previous Chardonnay.
Rioja, Viña Salceda 2010 Reserva was chosen to accompany the Black Angus beef with Jerusalem Artichoke and Quinoa cream . A blend of Tempranillo with a touch of Graciano and 18 months ageing in both French and American oak this was deep with lots of black fruits, a big well-structured mouthful, spicy and with chocolate notes.
The Campo de Citricos dessert was accompanied with the Chivite Colección 125 Vendimia Tardía 2010 and 1999 Moscatel de Grano Menudo. The citrus flavours and textures were perfect with these big and elegant sweet wines. With the grapes picked individually and by hand over several different days as they ripened and were affected with botrytis, then fermented in French oak, these wines are very rich. The golden 2010 is fresh, intense, powerful and balanced, with honey and figs in a long finish. The amber, 1999 was a far more complex, floral, fruity wine with greater pasification and longer in wood. Worth every centime this wine should be tried to savour every last note and flavour and nuance!
Our thanks to Chivite for the invitation and opportunity to taste these high-quality wines and to Vuelve Carolina and El Poblet, both with excellent service and food, for hosting this event.