Brett happens

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Posts Tagged ‘Castilla-La Mancha

Bobal and co.

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Founded in 2005 by the then 23-year-old Juan Antonio Ponce, Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce is the star winery in Spain’s Manchuela region, which lies inland from Valencia. The most widely planted grape variety in the area and in the Ponce family plots is Bobal. As I wrote in 2012, “The vineyards of southeast Spain are rife with Bobal – in 2004, 89,000 ha (220,000 acres) were under cultivation, mainly in Valencia, Alicante and Utiel-Requena – though most of the harvest is made into bulk wine (industrially produced, shipped in tankers, sold anonymously in jugs and boxes). Rightly convinced that the grape deserves a less lowly fate, some winemakers have begun producing blended and monovarietal red and rosé Bobal cuvées. … Bobal’s tolerance of climatic extremes and tendency to produce relatively high acid, low alcohol wines are a boon [in a region whose climate] locals describe as nine months of winter and three months of hell.”

Ponce makes all his red wines in fundamentally the same way. The farming is biodynamic. The grapes, which come from vines up to 75 years old, are hand-harvested. The whole clusters are chilled to 8°C, then placed in open-topped tanks, foot-crushed and fermented with indigenous yeasts for several days, after which the must is transferred to barrels to finish alcoholic fermentation, undergo malolactic fermentation and mature. (The process is known as remango in Rioja, where Ponce worked at Remelluri as Telmo Rodriguez’s assistant for five years.) Made in a rented facility using little mechanization, the wines are bottled unfiltered, unfined and with minimal additions of sulphur dioxide.

Vino de la Tierra de Castilla 2016, Depaula, Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce ($19.25, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Monastrell from 45-year-old vines rooted in calcareous soil in the Jumilla region. Spontaneously fermented in stainless steel tanks. Matured seven months in 600-litre neutral oak barrels. 14% ABV. About 800 cases made. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Straightforward nose: ripe but not jammy black cherry and plum and some background slate. Medium- to full-bodied. Fresh acidity, unassertive tannins The flavours echo the nose and the alcohol isn’t apparent. Simpler than the others but still quite gluggable. Best served lightly chilled, methinks. (Buy again? Sure.)

Manchuela 2016, La Xara, Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce ($21.95, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Garnacha from vines planted in 1995 and rooted in clayey calcareous soil. Spontaneously fermented in open-top wood tanks. Matured 10 months in large neutral French oak barrels. 13.5% ABV. About 180 cases made. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Perfumed and minerally but also, alas, faintly corked. We could still tell this was a perfumed, minerally take on Grenache, medium-bodied and fluid, with pure, raspberry-leaning fruit, wiry tannins, bright acidity and a peppery finish. (Buy again? One corked bottle does not a bad wine make, so yes.)

Manchuela 2016, La Casilla, Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce ($26.55, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Bobal from vines planted in 1935 and tooted in calcareous soil. Spontaneously fermented in open-top wood tanks. Matured 10 months in 600-litre neutral French oak barrels.. 13% ABV. About 920 cases made. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Nose of “cherry,” “tulip,” plum, graphite and a hint of smoke. Rich and velvety yet also fresh. Built around a core of Chambord-like fruit. The tannins are round, the acidity soft. A mineral substrate gives it some depth. Long. Special. (Buy again? Yes.)

Tasted a few weeks later was the entry-level Bobal, the Manchuela 2016, Clos Lojen, Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce ($19.25, oenopole private import, 12 bottles/case, c. 2,250 cases made), whose grapes come from vines planted in 1965. No notes taken but this is a silky textured, medium-bodied easy-drinker with clean fruit, sprightly acid, slender tannins and a long minerally finish.

Given the wines’ integrity, not to mention their high pleasure quotient and low cost, it’s no wonder restaurateurs snapped them all up in a couple of weeks.

MWG February 8th tasting: flight 4 of 5

Not my style…

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…but maybe yours?

Vino de la tierra de Castilla 2011, Cala N.2, Tinedo ($19.15, 12595259)
A blend of organically farmed Tempranillo (85%) and Graciano (15%). Manually harvested. Maceration and alcoholic fermentation with manual pump-overs take place in temperature-controlled (25°C) tanks, at least some of them unlined concrete, and last about two weeks. The wine is then transferred to concrete tanks and used barrels for malolactic fermentation. Maturation in used 225-litre barrels lasts 18 months and is followed by further time in concrete tanks. 15% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinicolor.
Dark, Bordeaux-like nose: plum and black cherry, leather, tobacco and spice. A full-bodied mouthful of super-ripe, lightly candied fruit and spice, round tannins and lithe acidity. Concentrated from start to long, coffee- and chocolate-overtoned, alcohol-flaring finish. The overall effect is New Worldish though, in its way, the wine is balanced. Fans of big, fruit-driven wines should make a beeline – for them, this will be a real QPR winner – but I find it unrefreshing, even palate-fatiguing, and can’t imagine it working with anything except grilled red meat. (Buy again? Unlikely.)

Written by carswell

November 4, 2015 at 12:50

¿Oso de peluche?

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Vino de la tierra de Castilla 2009, Venta La Ossa, Bodegas Mano a Mano ($22.80, 11465161)
Tempranillo (95%) and Syrah (5%). Spent 12 months in French oak barrels. 14.5% ABV.
Intriguing nose: candied cherry, plum, spice, slate, a green (not unripe) streak, oak. Full-bodied and plush. The fruit could be deeper, especially on the mid-palate, where it leaves a hollow that’s filled by a mildly astringent ashiness. The sneaky tannins reveal themselves only on the pepper and bitter chocolate finish. I was ignorant of what grapes this was made from and would never have guessed Tempranillo. Drinkable is about the best that can be said of it. The ursine label is pretty cool though.

Written by carswell

February 28, 2013 at 12:59

MWG January 10th tasting (5/7): Three easy-drinking southern European reds

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Vino de la tierra de Castilla 2011, Bobal, Pedro Calabuig/Bodegas de Levante ($15.00, La QV, 12 bottles/case)
100% organically farmed old-vine Bobal. 12.5% ABV.
Spicy red plum and black raspberry, pepper, fresh ground beef, slate. Medium-bodied with a slightly velvety texture, supple, finely astringent tannins and brisk acidity. Earthy yet not without a certain elegance. Perhaps a tad less rich than the 2010 but every bit as drinkable. Food-friendly and excellent bang for the buck; the weekday wine par excellence. (Buy again? Multiples.)

Côtes du Rhône 2010, Petit Jo, Domaine de la Roche Buissière ($20.00, La QV, 12 bottles/case)
Natural. The estate has been certified organic (Ecocert) since 1980. All the wines are made with manually harvested grapes, fermented with indigenous yeasts, unfiltered, unfined. They contain no added sulphur and are vegan-friendly. The Petit Jo is a blend of Grenache (70%) and Syrah (30%). Nearly three-quarters of the wine is vinified like most Beaujolais, i.e. using carbonic maceration, to maximize the fruitiness.  13.5% ABV.
Attractive nose of fig, grape, turned earth, violet. Clean, sweet-and-sour fruit, a fluid texture, light tannins and bright acidity add up to a lip-smacking vin plaisir. Throw-backable in that tart and juicy way we love. (Buy again? Definitely.)

Côtes du Rhône 2010, Le Claux, Domaine de la Roche Buissière ($29.30, La QV, 6 bottles/case)
Natural. This 13.5% ABV wine is 100% Grenache, which surprises me since it has a very fresh, Syrah-like nose.
Red berries, animale, dried rose. More substantial and polished than the Petit Jo. Intensely fruity but dry. Peppery (like all good Grenache) with gleaming acidity, a fine if tight structure and good length. Perhaps a little on the pricey side but very satisfying. (Buy again? Yep.)

Written by carswell

January 28, 2013 at 17:41

Todos sobre mi bobal

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The vineyards of southeast Spain are rife with Bobal – in 2004, 89,000 ha (220,000 acres) were under cultivation, mainly in Valencia, Alicante and Utiel-Requena – though most of the harvest is made into bulk wine (industrially produced, shipped in tankers, sold anonymously in jugs and boxes). Rightly convinced that the grape deserves a less lowly fate, some winemakers have begun producing blended and mono-varietal red and rosé Bobal cuvées. This one is from Castilla-La Mancha, whose weather locals describe as nine months of winter and three months of hell and where Bobal’s tolerance of climatic extremes and tendency to produce relatively high acid, low alcohol wines are a boon.

Vino de la tierra de Castilla 2010, Bobal, Pedro Calabuig/Bodegas de Levante ($16.20, La QV)
Organically farmed old-vine Bobal. Dusty red berries, hints of spice, pepper and fresh mint. More silky than velvety, more acidic than tannic. Bright sweet fruit upfront, turning darker and drier as it passes through the mouth. Tart, slatey finish. As wapiti says, “simple and beautiful.” I’d also add that it’s refreshing, food-friendly and delivers great QPR, the very model of an easy-drinking weeknight red. 13% ABV. All that and a cool label, too.

Speaking of food, if you’ve ever scratched your head at red wine as a suggested pairing for seafood paella, grab a bottle of this: the tart fruit, low tannins and reasonable alcohol level make it a near perfect match.

Plug bobal into the saq.com search engine and you’ll get two wines back: a Bobal/Shiraz (!) blend and a rosé. Am also pretty sure I’ve seen Mustiguillo’s Mestizaje (60% Bobal) on the monopoly’s shelves.  Have yet to try any of them but now I’m curious.

Written by carswell

February 3, 2012 at 15:14