Sierra Norte, celebrating their 20th birthday this year have initiated their new bodega in Calderón, Requena.
Actually the new bodega is on the site of the Casa de Calderón, a 19thC bodega and agricultural centre which retains its original house, chapel and wine making facility with 35 concrete tanks. This was built originally by the Duke of Frignana, Don Enrique Córdoba but is perhaps better known recently as Dominio del Arenal who were producing wines there until just a few years ago.
In the 1960´s the entire site had been sold to Luis Mompo Soriano of Vinival, the major exporters with a huge site near the beach in Alboraya, Valencia. In 1999 they built a large bottling plant at the Calderón property.
Now acquired by Sierra Norte, they have demolished the 1950´s additions and created a high-tech facility with modern architecture which sits well with the original Victorian era property it adjoins.
The new facility is ready for the 2019 harvest with capacity for 5 million litres of wine, 1.2 million of which will be sold in bottle under the Sierra Norte label, now carrying its ecological and vegan suitable labels. The old property will be renovated to provide catering facilities, accommodation for visiting wine-merchants and a museum exploiting the best parts of the original facility.
Our visit was with the Circulo de Vino de Pedralba, the tasting group founded in 2010 which has just enjoyed its 97th tasting. ‘Catas’ for the group traditionally consist of 8 wines from the Valencian Community each month with the exception of August when they visit the nearby Feria de Vino de Requena (Ferevin) and enjoy a bodega visit. In previous years they have toured Chozas Carrascal, Proexa, Coviñas, Nodus and Torroja, and have visited La Viña and Belda in DO Valencia and Finca Collado in DO Alicante.
We began in the vineyards where new vines have been planted. (Sierra Norte acquired 50 hectares of old vines with the property but these had not been farmed for eight years, were overgrown with weeds and much of the rootstock was dead. 35 hectares of new vines including Xarel.Lo, Macabeo, Garnacha and Chardonnay have replaced them.)
Ricardo Calatayud the Sales Manager explained that the new varieties were aimed at the bodega producing in time its own cavas. With the current restrictions on planting new vineyards for cava it will be sometime before this is realised.
We moved into the new facility and started in the elaboration area with its rows of brand new, stainless steel tanks and state of the art pneumatic press. While Ricardo explained the operations and different wines produced ( Monastrell and Sauvignon Blanc from DO Jumilla under the Equilibrio trademark, a range of monovarietals from Castilla la Mancha under the Olcaviana trademark and their Fuenteseca, Mariluna, Pasión and Bercial ranges produced at the current Camporrobles facility, we enjoyed a glass of the 2018 Verdejo Olcaviana, a fresh, clean very expressive wine with white flowers and tropical fruit and fennel on the nose, fresh, full and very fruity with a persistent acidity and a long finish.
From there we moved on to the new barrel room, 2000sqm and full of French and American oak before moving up to the new tasting room where we enjoyed four further wines.
The Fuenteseca Rosado 2018 is 80% Bobal, the remainder being Cabernet Sauvignon. Fresh rose-coloured wine with violet flashes, it is clean and bright. On the nose it has red fruit, is fragrant and fresh with a marked intensity. In the mouth it has the intensity of the nose, fruity, full and with a good acidity it has a long finish with a fruity aftertaste.
We were joined by Manuel Olmo and Mapi Domingo (Director and Winemaker) for the tasting and accompanying buffet of traditional dishes….Bollo de Requena, embutidos, ajoarriero and morteruelo, jamon, cheeses and paté.
The next wine was the Pasión de Bobal from 60 year-old-vines. Intense black cherry colour with a violet edge, long legs and on the nose intense, ripe red and black fruit, strawberry, cherry, raspberry and blackcurrant, creamy with toasty notes and licorish from the second fermentation and 6 months crianza in French oak. In the mouth, meaty on entry with a sweet point, round tannins, smoky notes, toasty notes and good acidity and a long satisfying finish.
To follow we tasted the Bercial Ladera Los Cantos, a Bobal (65%) blended with Cabernet Sauvignon with 18 months in new French oak. Currently the bodegas top wine it is garnet in colour with a ruby edge. On the nose you notice the effect of the longer time in oak, fresh, mineral, vanilla with chocolate and notes of forest floor. Fat, round and not as full bodied as perhaps expected, it is fine, round, soft and easy to drink. A long very fine and elegant finish.
Finally, to accompany a chocolate-based pastry for dessert we tasted the Pasión de Moscatel, a dry floral white with white flowers apricot and apple on the nose. In the mouth although dry it is fruity and full with a good acidity, which matched very well.
The Circulo de Pedralba were privileged to be the first group to visit this new facility and provide a first test for the bodega. We know the group thoroughly enjoyed themselves and spent some time in the shop afterwards.
VÍ Vid want to thank Manuel, Mapi and Ricardo for a superb visit, very successful, informative and conducted in English! The new bodega is a superb addition to the wine tourism possibilities in Utiel-Requena and in due course can only improve more when the Casa de Calderón is renovated and adds its attractions.
Sierra Norte is a bodega producing award winning wines, this facility will simple encourage further medals in the future!