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Catavino.es On Tour: Tasting Wine Across Spain – First stop Utiel-Requena

On Wednesday evening, a rather miraculous event occurred in the offices of the Consejo Regulador de Utiel-Requena, located just northwest of Valencia. 17 bottles of wine from across the region, each from a different bodega, were put on display for a dozen bloggers to explore. These bloggers, ranging from winemakers to foodies, traveled up to 4 hours to not only support their friend and cohort, Juan Manuel Gonzalvo, but also taste wines from an “undiscovered” Spanish region.

Born in Zaragoza, Juan Manuel Gonzalvo is one of our main contributing writers for our Spanish site, Catavino.es. An oenologist by trade, he’s spent the better half of 2 years as a consultant for wineries, wine shops and wine fairs interested in furthering their brand, both online and off.

Approximately a month ago, Juan Manuel mapped out a 4 month tour of Spain in an effort to garner support for the 2010 Sabadell Wine Fair, located not a stone’s throw from where we live in Terrassa. And while he was making a grand loop through the peninsula anyway, he pitched the idea of holding a blogger’s meet-up in each of the regions, allowing bloggers to both taste new wines of the regions and chat with innovative winemakers. Though despite his ambition, we were unclear as to whether or not a project of this nature work? Would regions latch onto an innovative and experimental project? Would they embrace social media as a worthwhile medium, investing their time and resources? Would wineries donate their wine, and potentially their time, to educate a very passionate and curious crowd.

“Honestly, I’m not entirely clear what this particular group of people do, or the validity of social media, but I figured it was a good opportunity to show my wines”, said Vincente Garcia of Pago de Tharsys.

Intriguingly, Vincente has a blog himself, but his statement is a fantastic example of a growing group of Spanish wineries who are interested in taking a step forward, but simply don’t have the opportunity to interact with bloggers or social media influencers.

Of the 17 wines that were showcased, approximately 10 had a representative from the winery available to field questions. And of those 10, approximately 4 were excited to learn more about social media, as well as individual bloggers.

“We were on vacation in Valencia and heard about the tasting through Facebook, so we came. And to be perfectly frank, we know very little about the region, its grapes nor its wines, but we’re really excited to learn”, replied husband and wife duo from Rueda de Vinos.

Clearly, there was an ample amount of learning on both sides of the table, and as the majority of wines were made with Utiel-Requena’s native, and very controversial grape, Bobal, there was no shortage of questions. Although we’ve had the opportunity to taste Bobal wines on many occasion, to date, few people outside of the Utiel-Requena have explored these wines. Capable of producing fresh and vibrant rosados to dark and rich reds, not to mention unbelievable Cavas, this highly versatile grape is renowned for its high productivity making a very challenging grape to work with. For more information on Utiel-Requena’s native grape, check out Zev Robinson’s documentary.

One of my favorite re-discoveries of the evening, having first tried the wine in Catalunya last year, was Bodegas Vereda Real‘s Bobalia Roble 2006 aged for 6 months in oak. In part, I think my interest stems from the immense amount of floral notes that wafted out of the glass, an aroma I don’t typically associate with Bobal. Intermixed with a touch of black olive, a dash of mineral and a pinch of black fruit and you have an extremely attractive nose. In the mouth, the wine is big, bold and lush, with good acidity, fine silky tannins and medium long dark fruit and black olive finish.

The Olivastro 2008 by Carres Bodegas & Vinedos was also a very interesting and unexpected wine. Similar to the Bobalia in power and punch, the Olivastro shows rich plum and stewed strawberries with an undercurrent of soy and toasted wood. In the mouth, the wine has a vibrant acidity, good structure, and a long persistent finish of dark fruit and minerals. Young winemaker, José Luis Torres Carpio, is a trail-blazer in Utiel-Requena, adhering to bio-dynamic and organic principals, and uses zero fertilizers, no irrigation and only natural yeasts. Extraordinarily proud of his achievement, he admits that a winemaker must listen to his vines, especially when they are older and wiser than he is. A very lovely sentiment for a very forward thinking enologist.

Juan Manuel will be touring Ribera del Duero in a few weeks, and we’ll keep you posted on where the next social media tasting will take place. In the meantime, I’ve provided a full list of the wines featured, and would like to extend a big thank you to all the wineries and to the Consejo for taking the time to be with us!

Cheers,
Gabriella Opaz

Some of the Wines Featured at the Utiel-Requena Tasting

Torroja Sybarus Unico, Blanco de Tardana 2009
Covinas Vina Enterizo Rosado de Bobal 2009
Emilio Clemente Excelencia Edicion Limitada 2006
Vera de Estenas Martinez Bermell Merlot 2008
Vegalfaro 2006
Chozas Carrascal Las Ocho 2006
Murviedro Corolilla Crianza Bobal Vinas Viejas 2007
Cherubino Valsagiacomo Marques de Caro Rosado Bobal 2009
Finca Ardal Ocho Cuerdas Bobal
Bodegas Utielanas Vega Infante Bobal 2009
Vereda Real Bobalia Roble 2006
Hispano-Suizas Bassus Pinot Noir 2007
Carres Bodegas & Vinedos Olivastro 2008
Torres Luna Blog Seleccion 2007
Criadores Artesanos Pasiego de Autor
Dominio de la Vega Crianza
Tharsys Unico Espumoso

If your region would like to host a tasting for bloggers and are located in Ribera del Duero, Lusitano, Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Calatayud, Rioja, Somontano, Navarra, Jerez, Bullas, Jumilla, Almansa, Alicante, Zaragoza, Toro, Bierzo, Rueda or La Mancha, please contact us at contact@catavino.net. We’re looking for sponsors and bloggers who want to help out!

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  • http://www.onlyredwines.com Javier Prats

    Gabriella, we agreed that both wines and Olivastro Bobalia were the most unexpected, yet striking in the event

  • Pingback: Cata para Wine-Bloggers en Utiel – Requena « Rueda de Vinos

  • http://twitter.com/EmilioSaezvEerd @EmilioSaezvEerd

    Any interesting wines for a Dutch retailer in the Utiel Requena tasting?__Hope to see you guys soon, somewhere, sometime…__Emilio

  • http://www.vinhoweb.pt Carl

    Sounds like you had a fun trip

  • http://vinosambiz.blogspot.com Fabius

    I was one of the blogger/winemakers who made the three-hour 300 km trip for this event, and I’d like to say that it was well worth the effort. My thanks to Juan Manuel (Catavino), the Utiel-Requena DO and all the bodegas for organizing everything so well.
    PS. I also liked the Bobalia Roble, it was the one that stood out for me, and the one I remembered most after the tasting (though the others were all good too.) I would also like to mention the Cava (sparkling white) which was excellent, but I can’t remember the name of the producer!
    PPS I’ll post on this event as soon as poss on my own page – I haven’t had a free moment recently, desperately trying to finish pruning (and dealing with a bit of a wine-related crisis, which I’ll post on too later!)