When Javier Carmona presented the first Viña Lidon, the lightly oaked white wine of Vera de Estenas, in the underground Bodega Honda in Requena little did they know what a success they had on their hands!
We first visited what is now Pago Vera de Estenas in 2010, viewing the vineyards planted in 1981 which are behind the bodega. Although we tasted extensively from their range we didn’t actually taste the Viña Lidon that day although we saw examples of ageing older vintages in their Alsace style bottles in the bodega’s museum.
The name comes from owner Fali Martinez´s niece and other wines from the Pago also bear the names of family members.
This pure Chardonnay comes from the one single plot nearest to the bodega and the vines are nearly 40 years old now. They are low yielding, have a relatively high sugar content and for this vintage produced a wine of 13.5%ABV. But more of the wine later.
A small group of journalists, bloggers and family members, we met up in the garden at the front of the bodega before the presentation took place in the museum. Many of us has had not seen each other for 14 months or so and naturally conversation was initially about the pandemic and vaccinations!
Upstairs in the museum still has its collection of old bottles with gracefully ageing wines, artworks and certificates recording awards which the bodega’s wines and owners have received over the years.
Fali began by introducing us to a little of the history of the Pago before we commenced on the vertical tasting of 4 vintages of Viña Lidon. The first wine was the 2020. This had been an early ripening, wet year and the wine is a pale old rose gold colour, clean and very bright in aspect.
The grapes had undergone maceration for 6-8 hours before the free run juice was transferred to the underground concrete ‘trullos’. Here they were left with the fine lees which sink naturally to the bottom before transfer to oak barrels where the alcoholic and malolactic fermentations take place and after the latter, batonnage takes place. The wine maintains its acidity in this way.
On the nose mature tropical fruit and apple, restrained oak and a little vanilla are evident. In the mouth the wine is delicate, elegant has a little more volume than expected with ripe fruit, a little spice and a good finish. It needs time to develop.
In complete contrast the 2015 is a deep old gold colour, showing oxidation but still clean and bright. Lots of apple on the nose with a little honey, its evolution is on the edge but nonetheless it is still alive and quite full in the mouth with a long finish.
2013 was a wet year, the wine has a colour of mahogany like a good amontillado sherry. On the nose this was full of baked apple with dried fruit and sugar (a touch of botrytis) and in the mouth there was a hint of sweetness, it is still big enough to accompany foie gras or a good pheasant!
‘Drink the youngest available!’ That was the advice in the 2005 Hugh Johnson Pocket Wine Guide for white wines from the Valencian Community (and red wines too!).
So, the next wine, the 2003 in its clear glass Alsace style bottle, should have been dead and buried a long time ago! We are having none of that nonsense! Although it was a similar colour to the 2013 it was clear and bright , the nose came bouncing out of the glass towards you.
It was labelled as a crianza so it must have spent a longer time than usual in the barrels and the fruit was rich and ripe. The evolution in bottle has left a wine with an incredible long aftertaste, a wine which would defy anyone who doesnt like old white wines to change their mind. It reminded us of old Meursaults. An absolute treat and priviledge to have tasted it.
Oscar Torrijos is a family friend and it was he ( the first Michelin Star chef in Valencia), who provided the catering for the event. We began with ‘amuses bouches’, little pastries, palmeras, anchovies , salmon etc. This was followed by a side of smoked salmon with fresh, home made breads, local cheeses from ‘Hoya de la Iglesia’ in nearby Los Pedrones and potatos from the brasa.
For the next course Oscar had prepared fresh salmon fillets on the brasa, which, he explained had been cooked to the point where the skin was cooked but the top was still ‘cru’ and was then removed from the heat to carry on in its own residual heat. The result was the most wonderful, moist flaky salmon we have ever tasted!
A good gazpacho Andaluz was next before the traditional morcillas and longanizas from Requena were served with tender lamb ‘palo’ chops from the brasa.
This was accompanied by the bodegas red Reserva, fruity and a perfect match for a bbq and Oscar’s tales!
The desserts were from El Cebo, the Patisserie in Utiel.
This was a very intimate occasion, perfect in the bodega’s gardens on a lovely early Summer’s day with the family and a worthy celebration for a consistently good wine! Our thanks to Fali and the whole family for the invitation and opportunity to share it.