Jul 20, 2015
The Prophet of Bobal
From Manchuela (and Finca Sandoval) I headed east toward Valencia, to Utiel-Requena. My last visit on this Grandes Pagos de Espana trip was to be Bodega Mustiguillo, the sole estate of the El Terrerazo Vino de Pago.
It is a stunning family estate, built around an old but fully renovated and modernized country house. It is complete with a few private guest rooms (attached to the family getaway) along with the winery offices and tasting room and a pool at the edge of sprawling grounds.
After a tour, we headed into the nearby town of Utiel to dine in the long established Castillo Restaurant before wrapping an eventful day of travel and vineyard tours.
The next morning, before the sun rose too high, I set out to visit some of Mustiguillo’s famous old Bobal vines with Jose Vicente Salas Cardona.
Vicente is head of communications and marketing for Mustiguillo. (photo: below right)
His brother-in-law, Toni Sarrion is the notorious creator of Bodega Mustiguillo. Sarrion’s family had vineyards before the winery was established in 1999, but they had been an after-thought.
After studying business and working in construction, Sarrion decided to shift his focus to winemaking - especially championing native Bobal and Merseguera vineyards in Valencia.
While I stood in a vineyard of massive old Bobal vines planted roughly 96 years ago, Vicente explained Sarrion’s vision and the Mustiguillo estate.
Bobal is a native variety to neighboring Manchuela and here, to Valencia. It one of Spain’s nearly lost varieties. Bobal was mostly pulled up or left to whither as it was deemed a lower grade grape, meant for rustic bulk wines or to prop up other varieties in a blend. It produces big berries with tight clusters.
At Mustiguillo they work hard in the vineyard to control vigor and try to keep the berry size down to achieve more intensity.
To do so, they leave a lot of buds (which eventually become bunches) so the bunches are hobbled and are unable to grow too large.
Later they go in and remove excess bunches during the green harvest.
Merseguera, a fragrant white variety, was nearly lost to its native home in Valencia. With few hectares left in the region, Sarrion grafted some Merseguera onto 40-year-old Bobal vines at an elevation of 900 meters, a location less suited to Bobal. It is a drought-tolerant variety with good balance and low alcohol.
The Merseguera is planted on Mustiguillo's nearby estate, Finca Calvestra.
The contiguous 126 hectare El Terrerazo estate is roughly one-half vineyard and is organic and is built on sandy, clay-loam and limestone soils.
Impressively, a large selection of the vineyards is old bush vines planted between 1919 and 1945. The most inspiring and perhaps important factor, the estate (including almond trees) is dry farmed.
The vineyards are comprised of a mix of Merlot, Garnacha, Syrah, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon as well as twenty-hectares of white varieties: Chardonnay, Malvasia and Vognier.
While the winery itself is named Bodegas Mustiguillo it is also a Vino de Pago (read more here), one of only 14 specially allocated single estate DOs (Denominación de Origen) in Spain. Vino de Pago (VP) is the highest quality level as decreed by the Spanish parliament.
El Terrerazo was awarded its Vino de Pago status in 2010.
Sarrion has been a prophet for Bobal. His trials and ongoing research has many others locally, jumping on the Bobal bandwagon.
That’s exceptional news for this nearly lost variety.
Mustigillo 'Mestizaje Blanco' 2014, Vino de Espana
Mestizaje translates to “melting pot” and is a blend of mostly Merseguera with a good dose of Viognier and a splash of Malvasia.
Expressive on the nose – typical of this variety as it has higher terpenes (compounds found in certain grapes which tend toward floral-type aromas - ie: Muscat and Gewurztraminer).
The Merseguera variety is native to Valencia to a very specific rough landscape in the northern part of the region. It is grown at their other estate Finca Calvestra.
Only 800 hectares of this variety remain as it is very delicate vine and prone to crop loss. It has low pH and high acidity.
It is so pretty and honeyed with lovely honeysuckle and fine spice alongside expressive sweet golden fruits. It is lovely and weighty with great concentration and very citrusy zesty with some bitter almond flavours.
It is only the fourth vintage this wine has been made.
Finca Calvestra Merseguera 2013, Vino de Espagna – Notes of light spring blossoms and citrus with some golden fruits, fleur de sel, bitter almond and garrigue.. The acidity is very focused and high. It has a linear and racy palate - mouthwatering with good length. A slightly soapy texture clings to the finish. A good wine for fatty fish like sardine or shellfish. There is only one other 100% of this variety bottled, on the market. Fermented in 500L acacia wood and aged 9-10 months in stainless steel tanks. Only the second vintage of this wine.
Mustigillo 'Mestizaje' Vino de Pago El Terrerazo, 2013 –
This wine is Mustiguillo's most well-known - their bread and butter wine.
Bobal is bended with five other estate varieties (percentages vary year by year). Loads of wild berry and cherry fruit (undoubtedly the Bobal stands out here) then cocoa and coffee tones with garrigue or dried herbal notes. Same on palate... spicy and peppery with red fruits and rustic character. Good acidity cocoa and a spiced finish with slightly bitter (not unpleasant) quality. Solid and rustic but good. Mustiguillo uses “tea bags” of stems dunk into the wine to give it more structure and tannin.
Finca Terrerazo Vino de Pago El Terrerazo, 2012 – 100% Bobal.
Initial floral notes with chocolaty layers alongside ripe black and purple fruits. Supple with generous fruit and spice with savoury garrigue and wild herbal flavours. Bittersweet cocoa and espresso with tobacco and grippy but super-fine tannins linger on the finish.
Mustigillo Quincha Corral Vino de Pago El Terrerazo, 2012 – Bobal.
Typical purpleish Bobal colour with sweet and ripe purple fruit, cocoa and violets, which have been ground into a powder. A palate brimming with sweet fruit. Finesse with powerful but refined tannins. Great acidity, a firm structure but with a juicy character. Very expressive with some bitter almond on the finish. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, bottled without filtration. A wine for game meats, hearty stews and hard cheeses.
Quincha Corral Vino de la Terrerazo 2004 - The label has changed since 2004 and Mustiguillo has changed the grape management of the Bobal vines since then.
Expect glorious floral and fresh purple fruits - a very velvety nose. Notes of cocoa and starting to roll into dried cherries soaked in mint. Great acidity, still so youthful and quite powerful tannins. Coarser and more dominant tannins on the finish than the 2012.
Other Grandes Pagos de Espana Estates visited on this trip:
►Valdespino - Inefficient, Crazy and Romantic: Sherry
►Finca Moncloa - Tradition + Creation
►Cortijo Los Aguilares - The Place Where Eagles Live
►Manuel Manzaneque - Risk & Reward
►Finca Sandoval - Wines of Influence
Get to know Grandes Pagos de Espana