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.
New Winemaking Techniques.
Excellent Price Quality/Ration.
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