Spain’s Valencian Community is the fourth most populous autonomous community after Andalusia, Catalonia, and Madrid. The city of Valencia, located on the southeastern coast about 303 kilometer (188 miles) from Barcelona, is the capital of the Community. As Spain’s third largest city, Valencia has much to offer, including beaches, arts, medieval castles, an inviting Central Market, and a glimpse at “the” Holy Grail. As with all of Spain, Valencia is also home to delicious food and wine.
Valencia is home to three wine regions, known as DO’s. The largest of the three lies directly west of Valencia is called Utiel-Requena, taking its name from the towns of Utiel and Requena that lie 15km apart from each other. Utiel-Requena is the most inland of the Valencia DO’s, vineyards are on an undulating plain surrounded by moutains, between 600m – 900m above sea level. The soil varies depending on location, alluvial soil is prominent in the north, while sandstone, marl, and clay make up the soil of the south. The best vineyards; however, are believed to be planted on the outcrops of limestone found throughout the DO.
Utiel-Requena experiences a challenging climate. It lies in close enough proximity to the Mediterranean Sea (70 km) to receive coastal influence, but it also has strong continental climate. The diurnal shift can be extreme, up to 50 degrees, with possible high temps reaching 104 F, and lows around 59 F. The region enjoys up to 2,500 hours of sunshine and 400-500mm of rain annually. The warmer climate, extended sun exposure, and altitude results in early grape ripening. For example, Decanter explains a “Tempranillo from Utiel-Requena can be fully mature after six months in oak and a year in bottle – less than half the time required in the DoCa Rioja.”
In Utiel-Requena red wine makes up over 94% of production, with Bobal making up 80% of the production. After Tempranillo, Bobal is Spain’s second most planted grape variety. Bobal is a native grape, adaptable to the climate and the soil of the region. Utiel-Requena explains more about Bobal, “Owing to the great quantity of anthocyanins in its skin, the wines made from Bobal have an intense colour and character, and a high level of tannins that is good for ageing. It provides for aged red wines of intense colour, with good body and complex flavours. It is also an ideal varietal for making reds using carbonic maceration, as well as fruity rosé wine with a unique colour. The skin of the Bobal has a high resveratrol level, an anti-carcinogenic substance with positive health benefits for the heart. A scientific study has shown that resveratrol contributes metabolising fats.” Other red grapes produced here include Tempranillo, Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc.
Decanter explains, “The region of Utiel-Requena is renowned for a blending process called ‘doble pasta’, which helps to produce the intense wines for which the area is known. The initial pressings are left in the tank after the juice has been run off, then another batch of grapes is placed on top of the original skins and the whole process starts again. This juice is, not surprisingly, high in extract and contributes to the intensity of the final product. The juice is also in much demand from other wine areas both inside and outside Spain, to which it is shipped in bulk for blending purposes.”
Here are six wines to kick off your Utiel-Requena exploration:
2015 Bodegas Covinas Aula Rosado de Lagrima Utiel-Requena Spain ($5): 100% Bobal; pale fuchsia; medium aromas of candied violets, strawberry Jolly Rancher, orange crème, lemon pudding; refreshing palate, dry with sweetness of aromas fading to fresh picked summer berries on the palate, crisp with medium+ acidity; click here to learn more.
2015 Cooperativa San Juan Bautista Bobal deSanjuan Utiel-Requena Spain ($9): 100% Bobal; medium ruby with violet hues in the glass; blackberries, black cherries, plums, black raspberries, sweet baking spice, tobacco, dried roses and savory herbs; silky mouth-feel with youthful high tannins and acidity, full body, mouth-coating, long juicy fruit finish; a balanced wine that is easy drinking and great with food; click here to learn more.
2014 Bodegas Hispano Suizas Bassus Pinot Noir Utiel Requena Spain ($39): 100% Pinot Noir; medium ruby; medium+ aromas of blackberries, black cherries, sweet baking spice, forest floor, wild mushrooms, trailing hint of cola; loads of dark juicy fruit with earthiness on palate, medium+ body, a bold Pinot Noir with balanced medium+ acidity and tannins, long dusty finish; click here to learn more.
2015 Bodegas Chozas Carrascal Las Doces – Las 2 Ces Utiel-Requena Spain ($12.99): Bobal, Tempranillo, and Syrah; deep ruby with scarlet hues; pronounced aromas of blackberries, black cherries, plums, smoke, dried tobacco, a little barnyard funk, and spice notes; funk continues on the palate, high acidity, grippy pronounced tannins, full body, long rustic finish; click here to learn more.
2012 Benoit Valerie Calvet Toro Loco Tempranillo Reserva Utiel-Requena Spain ($19.99): 100% Tempranillo; medium ruby; medium aromas of violets, red cherries, raspberries, blackberries, pomegranate, sweet baking spice, chocolate, red licorice; youthful tannins that are slightly grippy, medium acidity, medium+ body and finish with lots of juicy fruit on the palate; click here to learn more.
2013 Tarantas Tempranillo Crianza Utiel-Requena Spain: 100% organically grown Tempranillo; medium- ruby; medium- aromas of fresh picked summer berries, dusty earth, minerality, licorice, sweet baking spice, fresh tobacco leaves; a silky entry on palate transitions to a dusty medium+ tannins and medium+ acidity, full body yet lifts nicely off of palate, juicy yet balanced with earthiness, medium finish; click here to learn more.
To learn more about Utiel-Requena visit their website.