Tasting #240 April 26, 2022 12:30 pm
Castilla y La Mancha Wines
Clara Estrada and Jorge García
Mussels in white wine sauce
Risotto with sausage
Gnocchi in tomato sauce
Beef tenderloin in brown peppercorn sauce
Coffee and dessert
Reto Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce, 2020
F. Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce, 2020
Ternario 10. Bodegas y Viñedos Venta la Vega, 2017
Ternario 1. Bodegas y Viñedos Venta la Vega, 2019
wines price upon request
-Club del Vino members assessment of wines will post as soon as available
Marcello Averbug; Ruth Connoly; Clara Estrada, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ricardo Santiago. Guests: Erico Silva and Mick Marzella – confirmed up to April 25, 2022.
- Get acquainted with the region’s wines and compare wines made from the Albillo, Bobal, and Alicante Bouschet also known as Garnacha Tintorera grape varieties. Two wines come from the same producer for two different years, and their prices are substantially different.
- Compare the wines in a semi-blind tasting: the wines are known but not in which order they are poured.
II. Castilla – La Mancha
A. The Region’s place in Spain
- Spain may be in a warmer latitude than France, but about 90% of its vineyards lie at altitudes higher than any major French wine region, most of Castilla and León and Castilla-La Mancha. The altitude helps to keep enough acidity to maintain wines relatively fresh.
- The Castilla and La Mancha region is located in the Meseta Central, also known as the Central Plateau in Spain (see map 1).
- The region produces about half of the wine produced in Spain and in the past it produced huge amounts of red and white wine (vino tinto y blanco) of low quality, many of them sold in plastic containers in general stores and supermarkets.
- The region’s DO (Denominación de Origen) classified vineyards alone cover more ground than all of Australia’s vineyards put together. The town of Valdepeñas gave its name to a large part of this production, but this has been changing as there are many wine producing areas in the Region .
Source: Wine Scholar Guild
- The wine landscape started changing since the late 1990s, switching production from white to red varieties.
- An important change came in 1995 when the law officially allowed Spanish growers to irrigate, which has increased yields dramatically. The widespread use of irrigation has encouraged higher density of vine plantings. The rise in yields has allowed regions like La Mancha to machine harvesting; installing wires to train the vines has also helped. With machine harvesting, more harvests are done at night, when temperatures are lower. (Vine training systems utilize the practice of trellising and pruning in order to dictate and control a grape vine’s canopy which influence the potential yield as well as the quality of the grapes. See https://en.wikipedia.org/ting )
- By 2005 more than two thirds of production was red wine, much made from Cencibel, a local variety of Tempranillo.
- The most innovative vineyard has been the Marqués de Griñón’s near Toledo, which with his Dominio de Valdepusa engineered the first DO Pago. He imported grape varities (including Syrah and Petit Verdot) and new ways of growing and watering vines. Some other bodegas produce good wines from old Garnacha and local Albillo vines.
- Now the region has about 12 top wine bodegas (wineries).
- The prices range from US$10 to more than US$100 for the best quality wines, which are sold under the Vino de Pago Designation, a relatively new category.
B. Vino de Pago
- The Vino de Pago (VP) designation is the highest category of wines, which are produced in a single vineyard area. However, people must be careful when searching for the word pago since some producers use it on their labels without belonging to the category. Ironically, many of these VP producers are located in regions not typically associated with top-quality wine, such as Castilla-La Mancha, Navarra and Utiel-Requena.
- This designation cannot be confused with the promotional winery association Grandes Pagos de España, some of whose members, such as Dominio de Valdepusa in Toledo and Arinzano in Navarra, are also members of the VP designation.
- As of 2022 there were 19 Vino de Pago estates in Spain, and they have about 70 denominación de origen
- Total area planted is about 1,200 has of which Castilla-La Mancha plants 629 has in 11 bodegas. The area in VP is minuscule compared with the 1.2 million has planted in the country. The Rioja region does not participate in the Vinos de Pago scheme.
III. Bodegas, wines selected, grapes
- Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce, Villanueva de la Jara, Cuenca, Spain
Taken from http://www.wine.com website
Manchuela, a lesser-known Spanish wine region that is inland from Valencia, is where the Bobal varietal thrives. Known for its thick skins and rusticity, controlling the Bobal’s vigor is what makes for a well-balanced and interesting wine. While there are very few defenders of this region and even fewer winemakers that are dedicated to this varietal, Juan Antonio Ponce stands proud as a master and interpreter of the Bobal grape.Juan Antonio Ponce began his winery in 2005, at the age of 23. He works biodynamically in the vineyard, and in the winery, he takes a natural approach, using low levels of sulfur dioxide. His philosophy is to make natural wines with wild yeast fermentation, to respect the local varietal Bobal and to express its terroir.Juan Antonio Ponce worked as the right-hand man to Telmo Rodriguez at Compañía de Vinos Telmo Rodrigues for 5 years. During this time, he was in charge of winemaking, vineyard management, and other tasks. His father, who owned some land in Manchuela, decided to start this project with him.
- Bodegas Venta la Vega-MGWines Group, DO Almansa Wines, Spain
Taken from the company’s website
The Bodegas Venta la Vega is part of several bodegas owned by the MGWines Group. MG stands for Familia Miñano Gómez. MGWines owns five bodegas, one of which is Venta La Vega. The promoter of this idea was Luis Miñano San Valero, an entrepreneur from the province of Alicante. The group consists of wineries with a Mediterranean nature and the bodegas pertain to different Designations of Origin: Alicante, Bullas, Bierzo and Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla. The company promotes autochthonous varieties from the different regions. The main red varieties grown in the vineyards are Monastrell, Syrah, Merlot, Garnacha Tintorera, Petit Verdot and Tempranillo, and the white varieties are Moscatel and Macabeo.Bodegas Venta la Vega is located at the foothills of the legendary mountains of Almansa known as El Mugrón and are the largest single planting of the Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet) variety in Europe. The estate where Bodegas Venta la Vega is located includes more than 850 hectares of ecological farmland in the mountainous limestone area of Almansa. Altitudes of 1200 meters encourage the creation of distinct, natural micro-climates that enable the land to be farmed using ecological techniques that do not involve any chemical treatments or additives on the 250 hectares of vineyards. The location has abundant water and excellent soil, with a natural micro-climate that guarantees suitable conditions for ecological production of the singular wines that became part of the MGWines Group as Bodegas Venta la Vega Territorio Ecológico in 2017. The addition of DOP Almansa to the Group’s unique collection of DOs (Regional Designation of Origin) is aligned with its commitment to outstanding wines, native varieties, sustainable projects and respect for the environment.The name of their wines comes from the ternario system, which is represented by only three numbers: 0, 1 and 2. The sequence of numbers in this system is 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 100, 101, 102, etcetera. Each of the bodega’s wines has been assigned an initial number in the system, resulting in Ternario 1, Ternario 2 and Ternario 10. Garnacha Tintorera is the main protagonist of Venta la Vega Territorio Ecológico, with “Ternario” being its greatest expression. These are all organic wines, based on the essence of that native variety. The project is a personal one from Raúl Pérez, the renowned oenologist from the Bierzo region. The oenologist of Bodegas Venta la Vega is José Ángel Martínez.
B. The Wines
- All wines have good reviews from wine critics; ratings range from 90 to 95 points. One wine is not rated for that year, but for the 2017 and 2019 vintages the ratings vary from 89 to 94.
- Alcohol content: 13 % (2 wines), 13.5 % (2 wines) from labels in the bottles.
- Aging in oak: Ternario 10, 10 months French oak barrels; Ternario 1, 8 months in concrete tanks and six months in French oak barrels; the others do not report.
Reto Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce, 2020, Manchuela region (White)
Winemaker notes. Reto has a lovely expression of lemon, pineapple, and lychee, with hints of passion fruit in the background. Lively, fruity, and elegant attack, with notes of tropical fruits, perfectly balanced by citrus and a lovely acidity in the finish.
P.F. Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce, 2020, Manchuela Region
Winemaker notes: Deep ruby color with violet hues and impressive aromas of cherry, sour cherry, raspberry, plum, vanilla, pepper, tea, lavender, licorice, and bitter chocolate. On the palate, it has a medium body, medium tannins, and refreshing acidity. Juicy red and black fruits are mixed with notes of sweet spices, violet, cocoa, and dried herbs.
Ternario 10. Bodegas y Viñedos Venta la Vega, 2017 Almansa region, the Eastern most wine region in Castilla.
Winemaker notes. Intense and fruity on the nose, well integrated wood gives prominence to the variety. Over time, balsamic and mineral notes develop. Elegant mouthfeel with a long, persistent finish. This wine represents the maximum expression of the wines of Venta La Vega.100% organic, Garnacha Tintorera with vines of 40 + years of age.Robert Parker. The 2017 Ternario 10 is also Garnacha Tintorera from a specific plot within the same vineyard that produces the Ternario 2. It fermented with 100% full clusters in 5,000-liter oak vats for one month and matured in 400- and 500-liter oak barrels for 11 months. This is clearly a riper year than 2018 and 2019, and the wine shows it, but without excess. It has aromas of black olives, Mediterranean herbs and ripe black fruit, juicy and tasty. 10,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in November 2019.
Ternario 1. Bodegas y Viñedos Venta la Vega, 2019, Almansa region (Albacete)
Winemaker notes. Cherry red color with violet reflections. Intense aromas of fresh red fruit and flowers, graphite minerality and sweet baking spices.
100% organic, dry farmed Garnacha Tintorera from 25-year-old vines.Robert Parker. The 2019 Ternario 1 is pure Garnacha Tintorera from the only trellised vineyard they have, planted ungrafted 25 years ago at 800 meters in altitude. The wine has 12.8% alcohol and good freshness. It fermented with some full clusters and matured in 20,000-liter oak vats and concrete for seven months. This is a little more austere than the Calizo, spicy and less forward, nuanced and with complexity but without the immediate fruit of the Calizo. There is more concentration here and more structure; the tannins are chalky and the texture serious, and the finish is long and dry. It looks like 2019 is going to be a pleasant and approachable year. 20,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in late June 2020.
- Albillo. Name of several different pale–skinned grape varieties grown in various parts of Spain: Albillo Mayor in Ribera del Duero and other parts of Castilla y León and Albillo Real in Castilla–La Mancha and around Madrid. Both types produce wines that are aromatic, full bodied and generally have low acidity(Robinson, 2006, p. 10). There are five grape varieties with ‘Albillo’ as part of their name; the other three are Albillo de Albacete, Albillo Krimiski and Albillo Real de Granada. The grape has mostly neutral flavors with a light perfume aroma. It has a high glycerol index which confers smoothness to the wines. It is sometimes added to the red wines of the Ribera del Duero for added aromatics. The first written mention of Albillo is from the 15th century in Agricultura General by Gabriel Alonso de Herrera. In 1751 the Albillo variety represented 36% of all vines planted in the Toro region.
- Bobal. This important dark-skinned grape variety produces deep-colored red wines and even grape concentrate in different parts of Spain (e.g., Valencia, Utiel–Requena, Yecla, Bullas) mainly but not exclusively for bulk wine production. Its reputation has been improving over the years as some producers in high-altitude vineyards have managed to produce velvety wines from it. Vicente García, owner of Pago de Tharsys vineyards, says that “The answer to success with Bobal lies in the old vines”(sommjournal.com). Around 61,500 has were planted in 2015, making it the second most common red grape variety planted in Spain. It is native of the Utiel-Requena region in Valencia, and its presence was documented in the 15th century. The wine is low in alcohol, generous in tannins and full of antioxidants. derived from it retains its acidity better than Monastrell and is notably lower in alcohol. (Robinson 2006, p. 84).
- Alicante Bouschet or Garnacha Tintorera. Often known simply as Alicante, it is the most widely planted of France’s red-fleshed teinturier grape varieties and it is one of the few teinturier varities that belong to the Vitis vinifera Henri Bouschet bred it between 1865 and 1885 from his father’s crossing of Petit Bouschet with the popular Grenache, then also known as Alicante. It was an immediate success. Its high yields and easy maintenance made it popular among French wine growers, especially in the years following the Phylloxera epidemic. Its thick skin makes it resistant to rot during the transportation process, a characteristic especially useful during Prohibition in California for export to the East Coast. Its deep reed flesh produces wines that are 15 times as red as that of the productive and rapidly spreading Aramon and twice the darkness of the Grand Noir de la Calmette. Its deep color makes it useful for blending with light red wine. It is also high yielding and on fertile soils it can easily produce more than 200hl/ha (12 ton/acre) of wine with 12 percent of alcohol if little character (Robinson 2006, p. 13).
OTHER MAPS OF CASTILLA–LA MANCHA
Johnson Hugh and Jancis Robinson (2013). The World Atlas of Wine 7th edition Completely Revised and Updated (London, Mitchell Beazley, 2013)
Puckette Madeline and Justin Hammack (2018). Magnum Edition Wine Folly The Master Guide (New York, Avery-Penguin Random House, 2018)
Robinson, Jancis (2006). The Oxford Companion to Wine, Third Edition (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2006)
This presentation benefited from the format Ricardo Santiago used in his presentation of March 29, 2022.
Tasted Vines Assessment by Club del Vino members: