Sunday, March 15, 2015

Spain's BOBAL--The Grape Sensation by Philip S. Kampe

Yes, you read it correctly. BOBAL--The Grape Sensation.

When you think of Spain and it's most popular grape, Tempranillo steals the show. But, if you dig a little deeper, you learn that Bobal, from the Utiel-Requena in the Province of Valencia, is the third most favored grape in Spain.

Utiel-Rquena is home to a new breed of winemakers. Creativity and foresight from the winemakers has propelled  the Bobal grape into orbit.

In fact, the nephew of Vega-Sicilia's winemaker, Issac Fernandez, lives in Utiel-Requena and makes exceptional wines using the Bobal grape. His wines create intense aromatics on the nose, followed by a spicy and  fruity chewy mixture on the palate.

The reasons why the Bobal grape and the Utiel-Requena region have gained recent popularity is many fold:
 The Bobal grape is native only to the Utiel-Requena province and is the third largest varietal in Spain.
 Dry farmed bush vines date back ninety years.
 Historically, Spain's oldest state winery, from 1335, is located in the Utiel-Requena.
 Organic certified wines exist.
 An abundance of single vineyard wines are produced.
 The province has 5,604 grape growers and 95 wineries.
 2,800 hours of sunlight per year.
Bobal represents 80% of all plantings in Utiel-Requena.
Tilted terraces favor the Mediterranean sea with altitudes from 1,960 to 2,950 feet.
 Modern Technology.
 New Winemaking Techniques.
 Excellent Price Quality/Ration.

The grape has made its way into the American market and has prompted a group of winemakers from Utiel-Requena to visit the states to publicize their wines through seminars and tastings.

Prseident Jose Luis Robredo of the DO Utiel-Requena points out that, " You will find DO Utiel-Requena in the inland plains of the Province of Valencia at 44 miles from the coast. It boasts a Mediterranean and Continental climate due to the elevation of 2,950 feet above sea level. Our wine region covers 85,000 acres of vineyards in nine municipalities:  Caudete, Camporrobles, Fuenterrobles, Requena, Siete Aquas, Sinarcas, Utiel, Venta Del Moro and Villargordo of Cabriel.  Utiel-Requena's winemaking culture prides itself on a wine tradition that goes back 2,700 years. Archaeological digs prove that wine production has been constant from the beginning of the Iberian age until the present day".

When I discussed the Bobal grape with President Jose Luis Robredo, he made the analogy that  Bobal is "an onion of a wine, layer after layer".

After our discussion, I made my way to the sampling tables and enjoyed wines from the producers: Aranleon, Cherubino Valsangiacomo-Bobal de San Juan, Cerrogallina, Choza Carrascal, Covinas, Iranzo, Pago de Tharsys, Vincola Requenense, Dominio de la Vega, Murviedro and Primum Bobal.

A picture is worth a thousand word.. Here are some from the tasting.

              



As you can see, Bobal is ever present and a grape all of us should sample during the course of the year.
Ask your wine merchant about Bobal and learn more about the grape, as I did, at www.utielrequena.org

Bobal is the next big grape from Spain...

Philip S. Kampe
philip.kampe@thewinehub.com

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