What looks as though it could be a busy February got of to a quick start with a visit to Bodegas Baronia de Turis. The bodega is fast approaching its 100th anniversary having been built in 1920 and is still in the original building. Joan Picó, winemaker at the bodega explained that they were still using the old structure but were adapting it continually to house the latest technology. Currently the bodega has 1500 members with about the same number of hectares of vines available to it, but also takes in olives, almonds and carobs on a smaller scale.
In some ways the building reminds us of Latorré in Venta del Moro. It is built on a hill-side so that everything can be moved by gravity – something that reflects the lack of electricity in Turis at the time. Grapes arrive at the back of the bodega in the reception yard where they are weighed and tested for health, etc. They are then passed to the maceration machine ( if they are white varieties) or the hoppers if they are red.
Whichever, they are treated the same , more or less, thereafter. The whites pass to deposits for fermentation after maximum extraction of the flavours from the skins and in the case of Malvasia and Moscatel proteins and aromatics respectively.
The red grapes drop through the de-stalking machines and into maceration tanks on the level below. These tanks, very much in the French style are horizontal, not upright. Normally red grapes have to be pumped over as a cap forms on the top, consisting of the grape skins. Using horizontal tanks which rotate avoids the need for pumping-over, still extracts the colour from the skins ( particularly the anthocyanins) but is less effective in releasing the phenolic elements. The tanks are temperature controlled and capable of allowing fermentation to take place as well.
As you pass down the old staircases to the lower level you become aware of the old decorative tiles on the risers and some murals depicting wine-making. This is very typical of bodegas of this age!
From the tanks above the wine passes , again by gravity to the stabilisation tanks and filtering before either bottling, bag in box or barrel ageing. Wines will typically undergo four filterings before they are ready for bottling. The whites are also initially clarified by the flotation method which sees cold gas pumped in under high pressure forcing the particles to rise to the top and allowing the clear wine to be run off.
From here we passed down another level to the bottling plant, past the centrifuges and filters.
The machine will bottle around 5,500 bottles an hour with three operatives, one feeding the bottles in, one controlling the labels, corks and capsules and the third handling the packaging. The number of bottles per hour depends on the labels or packaging required and can vary therefore.
There is a separate plant for the bag-in-box format. Apart from a few sales from the bodegas shop these are all exported in formats between 3-20 litres.
Talking of export the bodega produces around 2 million litres a year, 50% of which is exported ( including seven European countries and China.)
We concluded the tour with a visit to the barrel park containing around 1000 French, American and Hungarian barrels. The bodega also possesses some old European style `foudres´in which their new Moscatel is aged and some intriguing small barrels with `experimental´and/or `personal´ wines!
The Bodega has a large range of wines of different qualities and styles for sale in its shop. Some are still sold in plastic bottles of varying sizes for home consumption, it is after all a traditional village bodega! We settled down to taste some of the Bodega´s newer production.
Some five years ago Baronia de Turis started a move towards quality wines which express the varieties and soils of the area. This saw the introduction of the then new range of `Luna del Mar ´ wines. Two years ago another range of monovarietals with the name Henri Marc were introduced as part of their `Wine Revolution´and last year saw this trend for quality and diversity continue with the `Caracter Propio´, a Vermut `13.30´and an aromatic drink with a base and blue organic food colouring .
We tasted a range of these and first was the Son Dos Días, 2016 Moscatel 11.5% ABV. This wine has a short maceration on the skins then a cold fermentation with commercial yeasts. Pale yellow, clean and bright it is immediately fresh and aromatic on the nose, with white flowers, orange blossom, apricot and hints of apricot and almond kernels. In the mouth it has good acidity ( Moscatel from this area often has to be picked at differing stages of ripeness to ensure there is sufficient acidity) and is nicely balanced, dry with sweet , spicy tropical fruit. An aperitif wine, easy to drink and very nice.
Second was the ecological Syrah, Caracter Propio 2014, 14%ABV. Sadly it was the last bottle but the 2015 is ready for bottling! Cherry red, medium bodied with a purple edge and very long legs. On the nose fresh raspberry fruit jumps out of the glass, fresh, aromatic and mineral. In the mouth soft tannins, easy soft fruits, very round and a very long expressive finish.
The Luna del Mar tinto 2013 is the fifth year this wine has been made. It is a blend of Merlot, Tempranillo and Syrah. A little darker and fuller bodied than the last wine this has soft red and black fruit on the nose, with hints of oak and spice. In the mouth it has greater depth, good variety of fruit flavours, round tannins and a complex long finish with the oak just reminding you it is there!
Only 2000 bottles of the `1000 Besos´, Moscatel 15%ABV are made. This is bottled in 50cl flasks. Deep amber in colour with copper hues and clean and bright. On the nose this is rich, ripe and full of honey, fig, dried grape, date and other scents with liquorice . In the mouth it is deep, sweet, wonderfully complex and has a long persistent finish, again showing the liquorice in the aftertaste.
When we last tasted the `13.30 A la Hora del Vermut´ back in November it had only just been bottled. Now it has settled down and evolved in the bottle. Vermut is once again a trendy drink here although it has certainly been made for a hundred years across the Valencian community and spiced wines were known in Requena in Roman times. This is amber, viscous, and very expressive on the nose. Wormwood is the obvious botanical in the mix and the wine has a base wine from Malvasia. In the mouth it is complex, light in texture but satisfying and evolves well in the glass finishing with definite touches of orange peel. The bodega buy the botanical mix and do not know its exact composition….but it sold very well over the Xmas period will, I have no doubt be popular in our monographic tasting of Valencian Vermuts in ten days time!
Finally we tasted the Baronia Blue, Planet Azul 11%ABV an aromatized drink aimed at the youth market. It has a base of Moscatel and Malvasia but has a blue organic food colouring added and is just one of a number of such drinks being marketed currently. It is not a wine, but the hope is it may help to draw younger drinkers away from beer and spirits towards wine as wine-drinking has skipped a generation here.
It has pineapple and passion fruit flavours, is a bit on the sweet side but is proving popular and selling to China and the US.
It never fails to amaze us how bodegas and visits to them are very different and educational. It was no less so at Baronia de Turis, thank you Joan for sparing the time to show VÍ vid around and provide a varied tasting.