Before our current tour to Valencia, I had never tried, nor heard of, the Utiel-Requena wine region just west of Valencia. It isn’t that far from Jumilla or Alicante which have made a splash in the sea of wine.
The major grape is bobal, indigenous to this area. The area definitely has its own distinctive micro-climate, notably that it’s 2400 feet above sea level and much cooler than the lower Jumilla. It even snows here in Winter and in the Summer there are wide swings in temperature, from the 90’s in the day to 40’s at night.
Bobal until recently was used as a blending wine to add color and alcohol. But a few visionaries believed the grape had a different destiny and started to give it the same treatment reserved for top wines: green farming, fewer bunches, careful screening, etc. The results have been more than promising. Our 3 visits today proved that. Of the three, Mustiguillo is the one that has the greatest potential for star treatment. It’s a first rate winery with state of the art equipment and a mentality that strives to push bobal to its heights. They produce 2 single vineyard wines that are outstanding; I particularly liked Finca Terrerazo, a wine available in the States. The other winery worthy of mention was Vegalfaro where we had lunch. They can achieve similar results and yet at more reasonable prices than Mustiguillo. Again Bobal is the star grape. We went to one other winery that was very small with wines only available in Requena and although not in the same league as the other two, for about $7 a bottle, you get a good representation of bobal.
Look for wines from Utiel-Requena; you won’t be disappointed.