It was exactly one year since we had visited Juan Piqueras in his ‘garage’ bodega in Campo Arcis (https://wp.me/p7dfvi-1r5) . A year which has seen this new Bodega consolidate and Juan gaining recognition in the local community ( he was for example a panelist in one of the ‘Foro Bobal’ round tables last year) his wines gaining a toehold in London with a small distributor and the Bobal being included in the London event for professionals organised by Sarah Jane Evans MW last October.
His wines are exported to Northern Europe and if you can find them here expect to pay upward of 15€ a bottle.
Last year Juan was experimenting with ‘Orange’ wine, a sparkling wine from an obscure local variety ‘Royale’ and wines fermented in terracotta tinajas.
When we visited last week the number of tinajas had grown, the sparkling wines were being palleted (and now there are three ‘Ancestral’ wines from Royale, Moscatel and Chardonnay) and we were promised developments in some of the wines we had tasted last year.
The garage seemed somewhat fuller and there were indeed further tinajas and deposits. The courtyard of the family house was full and dotted around were the latest harvest of mushrooms, membrillos and olives in brine! Another of the bedrooms has been converted into a bottle store.
We commenced our tasting with the Burgundy style ‘black Chardonnay’ . This is not a black wine. It is a wine made in a traditional style where the fruit is macerated for a long time to extract all the colour and flavour from the skins. This gives the wine a higher acidity after fermentation and it undergoes a second malolactic fermentation, unusual generally in white wines. Fresh on the nose it is a good yellow colour but still cloudy coming straight from the deposit. This has a great future , with pineapple, cream, and good apple acidity to balance!
The second wine we tasted was a Tardana from a tinaja, an ‘orange’ wine, still cloudy and with the most aromatic nose. With four months macerating on the skins the wine has very good acidity, a touch of stalkiness , fruit and is fresh. Can’t wait to try this when it is bottled!
We tried two further Tardana wines
The first wine was from stainless steel deposit. Less aromatic on the nose it had excellent acidity and a marked stalkiness and very good varietal characteristics.It will be a wine to keep for a couple of years before drinking.
The second was from a different tinaja. Quite different to the first and second wines the clay had had a marked affect on the wine which had a clear marker from the tierra. It is wines such as these which are informing Juan of the possibilities of using tinajas and how the variety performs in these vessels.
The ‘orange’ Chardonnay had a little less colour than the Tardana but was lovely in the mouth, already round and full, with good length.
The family have a plot of Tardana in the valley near Las Pilillas, the first commercial bodega on the Iberian peninsular dating back 2700 years.
The Moscatel had been fermenting in glass bombons, and is pale gold, really expressive on the nose with apricot, peach and white stone fruit. The vines are scattered around their vineyards.
Another Chardonnay was a new ‘Ancestral’ wine, with a lively mousse, persistent fine bubbles, fresh and truly spectacular. Juan did an excellent job disgorging the wine and a short video appears on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Vivideventos as does a video of the next wine.
This was a 2011 Chardonnay, ‘traditional method’ a beautiful old gold colour showing natural oxidation, lively fine persistent bubbles with a super correct nose baked apple, honey and creamy in the mouth with a long round full finish. This was a hobby wine, made before the bodega was conceived.
Some of the young Bobal we had tried a year previously has moved to a bombon and is currently under ‘Velo de Flor’. This is the way fino sherry is made. The natural yeast having used up all the sugar in the must, rises to the top of the wine and forming a blanket which stops oxidation, at the same time ‘feeding’ and enriching the alcohol, acidity and the natural glycerine in the wine.
This is still therefore very fresh, with deep ripe fruit, a point of sweetness and all the characteristics of the variety that you would expect.
The Bobal dulce is made to a traditional recipe with part of the must being boiled, then added back to the natural juice and the fermentation stopped with orujo giving a final wine of 18%ABV. It is full of chocolate, tobacco, the wrapper inside a cigarette box, cedar, just incredible.
Finally we tried an ‘arrop’ which is made from fresh fruit stewed in Bobal must, fig and water melon among others.This traditional sweet is perfect on a cold day!
As usual Juan made this a ‘super educational’ as well as a fun visit, an opportunity to keep in touch with his ‘experiments’ and assess the comparison between differing styles of wine. Thank you Juan!