In Spain, our tour guide said that, in Spanish, to make an object, like say a screwdriver, the verb is “fabicar,” to produce. However, when it comes to the process of making a wine the verb is “elaborar,” to elaborate. To elaborate something implies consciousness, time, and the labor such as that of an artist. It speaks to a sense of creation and nurturance, not just production. Oh, and some vintages require more “elaborar” than others!
To understand Spanish wine you need to understand that Spain and its wine makers are in love with the country, with its history, and with the land itself. Think Cervantes, Ferdinand and Isabella, Goya, Franco, Picasso, El Cid, Dali and Saint Teresa are all looking over your shoulder while you work.
Today Spain is making some of the most exciting and affordable wines you can get. The vineyards “elabora” that wine with shiny high tech equipment, but you’d think they are just seconds away from stripping off their cloths hopping into the vats and crushing the grape by foot because they still continue to respect the wisdom of the old ways and the flavors that result from them.
I am visiting Pago De Tharsys in Requena Spain, about an hour’s drive from Valencia. The Bodega is owned by Vicente Garcia and Ana Suria. Pago is a term that means all of the production from the grapes to the bottling are done in the same place. The status “vinedo de Pago” adds a great deal of prestige to the property and wine. Tharsys is the name of the person who founded Requena 1500 years before Christ. The first vineyard on the property was founded in 1808, and in 2000 everything but the cellars were demolished and rebuilt.
They make a sparkling wine called Caves (Spanish Champagne) and I am told they are very good. I’m afraid of bubbles so I passed. Spain and France both started making sparkling wine around the same time 1870’s. Unlike the French, who cultivated an upper crust luxury image of Champagne, the Spanish have a more middle class view of Caves where they drink it as a comfort wine, typically served with an appetizer of thick warm bread with tomato and extra-virgin olive oil. If you like sparkling wines skip the Champagne and buy Caves, your finances and flavor will improve. Compared to Champagne Caves are a steal!
But I’m not here for bubbles, I’m here for Bobal!
I first heard of Bobal from a wine aficionado friend of mine in Texas. “Griffy,” he said, “it’s so dark it will stain your glass.” Well it was dark; however my glass emerged from my first encounter unscathed. The wine I tried the first time was a 2010 Sera Note Utiel-Requena Pasion de Bobal. Yes, I know that’s a mouthful. This wine is available in the United States ask for Pasion de Bobal. The Utiel-Requena is region in Spain where the wine is from; Bobal is the native grape of Requena.
Bobal derives from the Latin “Bovale” which means “bulls head” because the grape clusters look like a bulls head on the vine.
The wine we are talking about here is Nuestr Bobal por Diana Suria, or “Our Bobal by Ana Suria”. This is an outstanding wine with a beautiful bouquet of blackberries. As I said, the color is dark, medium body, good tannins, dry by my wweet detector Josephine’s standards, but perfect by mine. For the taste, you’ll get some spiciness, blackberries and a lot of flavor. This is a great food wine, any roasted meat would pair well with this, or just some cheese. It is a blend of 85% Bobal and 15% Cabernet Franc, aged 10 months in oak.
I’m sorry to say that I can’t find any listings for Pago de Tharsys or Nuestro Bobal por Siana Suria in the United States, I would try for the Sierra Note and make sure whatever you find it’s from Utiel-Requena for the best interpretation. But do try some Bobal, you’ll thank me!