It is eight months since we were last at this restaurant and as on that occasion the format of this evening was slightly different from the usual bodega presentation. This time 58 members and guests gathered to hear three past Presidents present “Past President’s Pairs”. Current president Gordon Sellars introduced the three past Presidents; Keith Pacey, Rod Anderton and Gaby Ferenczy and explained that each had chosen a pair of wines which had one or more features in common which allowed for a comparative tasting. The average score awarded to each wine by the members is shown in red.
The first speaker was Keith Pacey and he had chosen two white wines from Alavesa a prestigious wine producing region of the DO La Rioja Calificada. The region enjoys both continental and Atlantic weather, being very cold in winter and hot in summer. Both estates are at 650 metres above sea level and both have approximately 50 hectares of vines, the same soil conditions and contain the same grape varieties.
Keith’s first wine was 2013 Valserrano Blanco from the Bodegas De La Marquesa situated in Villabueno De Alava. It was fermented in new French oak barrels with weekly battonage for four months and then rested in their cave 10 metres underground at constant temperature. The grape variety is 95% Viura and 5% Malvasia producing a bright pale yellow straw colour with an aroma of fresh citrus fruit, hay and aromatic herbs. The aftertaste is long with reminders of citrus and sweet fruits. The wine has an Alcohol by Volume (ABV) of 13.5%, the 2013 vintage has not yet been assessed, but the previous year it scored 90 points. Cost is 7.00€ a bottle ex bodega. The society gave it an average score of 83.7 points.
The second wine was a 2013 Luis Alegre Blanco Selección from the Bodegas Luis Alegre. Aged for 6 months in French oak barrels and subject to regular battonage, it has the same grape composition as the first wine and is also 13.5% ABV. The grapes are from vines that are over 85 years old with a limited yield. Like the first wine it has not yet been assessed, but the previous years wine likewise scored 90 points. It has a straw like colour with greenish hints, and aroma of citrus fruits with a hint of vanilla and a stylish and fresh mouth and long aftertaste. It costs 10.95€ ex bodega and the society gave it an average score of 84.2.
For his wines, Rod Anderton chose two reds from Calatayud, situated in the province of Zaragoza. The soil in Calatayud is marl with sand/loam in the north and slate and gypsum in the south, has elevated vineyards around 900 metres and has hot summers and harsh winters. His chosen pair came from the same bodega: Bodega Ateca and used the same grape: Garnacha. The first was a young wine, Honoro Vera 2013 which had spent two months in barrel. It should be drunk fairly cool, between 12 – 14ºC and tasted of juicy plums and sweet berries with a nose of cherry and blackberry. This wine was presented to 1,400 guests at last year’s Oscar Awards Dinner ceremony and also voted by Finnair Business Class passengers as their favourite wine. Society members gave it an average mark of 85.8. The second of Rod’s wines was Ateca Old Wines 2010 made from grapes grown on vines over 50 years old and has had 12 months in barrel. It had rich blackberry flavours and a long supple finish It is a smooth wine but powerful with an ABV of 15%. The Guía Peñín awards it 91 points while society members gave it an average of 86.7. Both wines can be bought form Casanova Bodega in Calpe, the 2013 Honoro Vera for 6.80€ and the 2010 Ateca Old Wines for 13.50€.
Finally Gaby Ferenczy presented two red wines from Utiel Requena, both 2012 and both made from the Bobal grape. Although probably not well known, the Bobal grape is second only to Tempranillo in the quantity of its production in Spain. Mainly grown in Utiel Requena, where it represents 90% of the grapes grown, it is a vigorous growing grape, with long trailing shoots making it difficult to manage and harvest. Utiel Requena, in the region of Valencia, is 70 kms inland at a height of between 600 and 900 metres and so the climate has Mediterranean characteristics but with continental influences.
The first wine was Pasión de Bobal from the bodega Sierra Norte in Requena.The grapes come from 60 year old vines thus reducing the yield which is further reduced in the vineyard. Bunches are carefully selected and further selection takes place on the sorting table at reception. The wine is aged 6-8 months in barrel. While Pasión de Bobal is an Utiel Requena DO wine the second wine called La Malkerida (unloved Woman) is classed a Vino de Mesa. The reason for this is that while grown in Utiel Requena, the wine is aged in Rioja Alavesa by the oenologist David Sampedro and so it cannot be classed as a DO. The Pasión de Bobal is dark cherry coloured with an aroma of Black and red fruits. It is a powerful wine with an ABV of 13.5%, gets 91 points in the Guía Peñín and costs 9.30€. Society members gave it 86.8 . La Malkerida is cherry red with an aroma of red fruits a less powerful palate than the Pasión with an ABV of 12.5%, is fruity and has a good aftertaste. It also gets 91 points in the Guía Peñín, costs 6.60€ and was given an average of 87.7 points by society members. Both wines can be purchased from Casa Del Vino in Jávea.
A vote of thanks was proposed to the three speakers by Paul Smithard.