[caption id="attachment_1374" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Bodegas Mustiguillo."]
It was a weekend in which we were spoilt for choice, The third Valencian Fair showing DO Cava made around Requena but representing Bodegas from Castellon to Fontanars was being held in the Plaça Arbol in the centre of Valencia under cloudless skies. Casinos, a centre of almond growing was holding it´s annual Turron fair. In Fontanars, Terres dels Alforins the new eno-tourism organisation representing bodegas from the immediate environs held its first wine fair at Daniel Belda´s bodega.
This week also sees Las Añadas de Utiel-Requena, the annual fair held in Valencia by the DO at which associated bodegas show some of their newer releases, not necessarily those from the 2011 vintage. Plus there were offers of bodega visits to taste the new wines from Vicente Flors and a cheese tasting in central Valencia.
[caption id="attachment_1375" align="alignright" width="112" caption="`Terroir´ Award."]
It was I believe impossible to fit all this in, but somewhat difficult to decide what to omit...........so when the chance came to visit Bodegas Mustiguillo, Finca Terrerazo near Utiel followed by lunch in the region it seemed Saturday was sorted for me! I was very lucky to visit Tony Sarrion at Mustiguillo shortly after arriving in Valencia in the company of José-Luis Contreras of Verema and a group from the University of Valencia and it was a visit that confirmed in my mind what the potential for Valencian wine was.
This week has seen his efforts with ecological wine-making, the terrain and in particular bobal recognised by the University Polytechnic of Valencia, the Gran Pagos organisation and the Valencian Government with the giving of the `Terroir´ award on Thursday evening. The time was therefore perfect to visit the bodega and catch up with Tony´s assessment of the development of the property and taste some wines.
Javi Prats, fellow blogger had organised the invitation and we were joined by Fernando Crespo now responsible for the bodegas PR. We joined a tour conducted by Tony himself with around twenty-five other visitors which commenced in the vineyard with its heavily stony soil.
[caption id="attachment_1376" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Government Recognition."]
His background may have included family vineyards but Tony qualified in Business Management and came to wine making in 1999 when he decided to make a proper job of it and dedicate himself to giving the vines the attention they merited. Finca Terrerazo had been bought in the 1970´s and consisted of some 250 Hectares near to Las Cuevas de Utiel at 800m above sea-level.
The new bodega buildings were constructed around and above the old farm buildings on the site and the first vintage was produced in 1999. The bodega itself is very modern with state of the art technology but this is used to make artesan wines. Currently 85 Hectares are in use for wine-making.
Making those wines well was also more important than following the rules of the DO and from the outset the wines were no more than Vinos de La Tierra de Terrerazo but by 2010 the fruits of his labour and the extraordinary development of Bobal in particular led the bodega to obtain Pago status which gives its own DO status as well, the first in the Mediterranean to achieve this.
[caption id="attachment_1379" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Garnacha in the Vineyard."]
The attention to detail starts in the vineyard where you will encounter vines en espalda, en vaso, with or without watering all according to the type of terroir or the `experiment´ Tony is conducting in evaluating the variety. All this leads to vines which produce very small bunches of tightly packed grapes, the best for producing high quality bobal based wines.
Selection continues in picking by hand, then refridgeration for at least 24 hours before a second-hand sorting to ensure only the very best fruit used. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel and the bodega has around 20 small deposits, including 3.5k litre wooden tanks. In the cellar beneath the wines conduct their malolactic fermentation and crianzas in one of around 200 oak barrels from a number of different producers.
Further details on this process are to be found in Javi Prats blog, visiting Bodegas Mustiguillo http://javiprats.blogspot.com
. Following the visit to the subterranean barrel park we repaired to the tasting room to try two of the wines for which the bodega is rightly renouned, Mestizaje and Terrerazo.
[caption id="attachment_1380" align="alignleft" width="91" caption="Mestizaje in Gran Format!"]
Mestizaje 2010 is a young bobal in blend with other varieties, 13.5% ABV and VdeT de El Terrerazo. A medium to deep cherry and plum red with violet edge, and has very fat, long slow legs. It is quite brilliant and glossy. On the nose cherry and a little alcohol, violets and a spiky raspberry fruit. In the mouth initially acidic, then opens really quickly with violets, blackcurrant and if it wasn´t for the acidity would be full of boiled sweets. In fact it is well-balanced, nicely structured and round.
The Terrerazo 2005 by contrast is a much deeper cherry colour, with a more ruby edge, long legs. On the nose it has more depth, plum, damson, jam, cedar wood, menthol, clove and then more concentrated mature fruit, raisins, tobacco, chocolate and liquorice. Very complex , full and in the mouth a very round well-balanced wine, full of mature fruit with smooth tannins. A fabulous wine.
The Bodega also makes a top wine Quincha Corral.
Our visit over we moved on to Bodegas Pasiego in nearby Sinarcas, the most Northern of the towns in the DO and the most high at 900m above sea-level. This is another of the artesan bodegas in the DO situated close to the road Criadoras y Artesanos sell their wines under the Pasiego label.
[caption id="attachment_1383" align="alignright" width="119" caption="José-Luis Perez of Pasiego."]
The bodega has recently undergone re-development and expansion but remains essentially a small bodega with just four wines, a white from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, Pasiego Crianza, ( Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon) Pasiego Reserva which also includes about 10% Merlot and Pasiego del Autor with Cabernet Sauvignon, Bobal and Tempranillo.
This last wine is one of the Primum Bobal wines, the bodega being a member of the association and provider of some of the grapes for the new wine which is about to be launched by them.
However we were there to sample the varietals from deposit many of which were still in malolactic fermentation. We first tried a Cabernet Sauvignon, full of fruit and green pepper, then a Bobal and finally a Merlot before trying the blended white from deposit which was full of banana, tropical fruit, white flowers and nice acidity. Finally following a chat ( and a glass of the 2010 white ) with José-Luis Perez one of three brothers who own the property we left in search of lunch.
We settled on Bar Ramos in San Antonio where we had both eaten before........but were very lucky to get a table as , surprisingly for a Saturday lunchtime, it was absolutely packed with tables full of multiple diners! This is clearly a good sign for a restaurant with a great reputation for traditional, local cookery.
[caption id="attachment_1384" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Ajoarriero, Mortuerelo and Gazpacho in Bar Ramos."]
Nor were we disappointed, the wait for the table being rewarded by some of our favourite dishes, ajoarriero, mortuerelo, gazpacho manchego, embutidos and pancetta washed down with the excellent 2005 L ´Angelet from Bodegas Palmera, a wine of great depth and full of mature soft fruit. We finished the meal with Cava from Chozas Carrascal, generously donated by the adjoining table which had been celebrating a family birthday.
Another excellent visit to two contrasting but excellent bodegas in this exciting wine-growing area and another educational day!
[caption id="attachment_1385" align="aligncenter" width="75" caption="L ´Angelet 2005, Bodegas Palmera."]