Wine Pleasures visits Chozas Carrascal (Utiel-Requena)

28 07 2009

Chozas Carrascal 1Everything about Chozas Carrascal exuded heat, literally and figuratively. It was 37o C in early June, but only the vines were standing up to the blazing sun. While we conversed in the cool of the shaded patio and main house, I felt the passion the family had for their vineyard and business, and their natural warmth towards guests.

Chozas Carrascal is a family effort which began about 17 years ago when the Lopez-Peidro family purchased forty hectares of land in San Antonio Requena. They dedicated eleven years to planting and cultivating before deeming the grapes good enough to offer under the Chozas Carrascal name. Their patience and care have begun to pay off – Las Tres, their blend of chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and macabeo, was a finalist in a sommelier competition (La Nariz de Oro 2009); Las Dosces, their young red, and Las Cuatro, their young rose, have been listed as two of the best Spanish wines (Guia de Los 300 Mejores Vinos de Espana, 2008-9, Vino y Cata Magazine). Their attention to detail is evident on the grounds of the vineyard and winery, from the rose bushes planted at the end of each row of vines, to the sparkling cleanliness of each room used in the winemaking process.

Their main house, tasting room and cellar are also enhanced with several stylistic features and details – a beautiful chandelier lights the way to their cellar, bottle corks are playfully set into the restroom flooring, and a tour of the partially excavated old wine cellar beneath the house highlights the rich history behind the land. Their cabernet franc is an example of the family’s labor of love and attention to detail. Each bottle is signed by Julian Lopez or his wife, numbered by Julian’s father, and hand labeled by his children.

During my visit I met most of the members of the team, or family, and Chozas 2quickly saw how uniformly motivated they are by their love for Chozas Carrascal. Julian Lopez, owner and manager of the business, was clearly energized by the subject of the vineyard and his plans for the future of the business. Pieter Whaley, their export manager, translated Julian’s quick words and added his own serious sense of enthusiasm. Francesc Giron, or Xesco as he is affectionately called, is the winemaker and answered all our technical questions with good cheer. (The family was proud to tell us that Xesco is also the author of a winemaking manual, “Credenciales de Chozas Carrascal”.) And as Julian is the head of the business, Maria Jose Lopez Peidro, Julian’s daughter and marketing manager, may be its heart. She was our tireless hostess and guide, and passionate about the family’s efforts and her own individual studies to obtain an advanced degree in oenology.

During my visit I met an important guest of the winery’s, Bernadette Gerth of Qualyvines. A Dutch importer of niche and “unusual” wines, she was making her first trip to Chozas Carrascal with her team of interns and half-jokingly making large reservations for several of the wines. Aside from the importance of the quality of the wine, both the family and Bernadette emphasized the importance of the quality of their relationship. Julian is focused on developing longer term relationships with distributors that are also emotionally invested in the winery. Bernadette looks for quality, “different” wines with “style”, but also only partners with wineries that are interested in helping her promote their wines in the Netherlands.  The pair met two years ago at the Wine Pleasures Workshop Buyer meets Spanish Cellar now named Buyer meets Iberian Cellar for 2010 – a match made in wine heaven, you could say perhaps.

Chozas3We had the option of trying the wines with a light repast in the airy tasting room or charming outdoor courtyard. After touring the house, enjoying the wines and light conversation, and leisurely dipping our toes in the pool, we were on our way back to Valencia. We discovered that Maria, a young and native Valencian, is an authority on local information and city hot spots. Sadly, we didn’t have time to try her recommendations for sights and nightlife, but my friend and I enjoyed a great paella negro at one of her favorite paella restaurants.

Luckily, for those of us in the States, Chozas Carrascal’s wines are available in a few specialty shops and restaurants (i.e. Jean Georges in New York City)!

Visits are 5 euros per person, and includes a tour of the vineyard, the winery, the main house, wine tasting and light (Valencian) refreshments. You’ll want to allot at least two hours to view and enjoy the premises, wine and company. 

Anne Shih. Wine Travel Writer for Wine Pleasures.

Here’s a video (in Spanish) on how to make a paella from Requena as opposed to one from Valencia. The latter claiming superiority in paella making. What’s your experience with paellas?


Paella de Requena alguién?

28 03 2009

Durante los Wine Pleasures Workshops, el Hotel Subur Maritim nos preparó una paella para una de las comidas. En mi mesa tenía una valenciana a mi lado y la preguntamos como estaba la paella. Adivinar su respuesta.

Unos días más tarde y con un grupo de importadores participantes en el workshop fuimos a visitar la DO de Utiel-Requena y en una de las visitas, una bodega (Vera de Estenas) nos preparó una deliciosa paella de Requena que, según el chef es totalmente diferente a las de Valencia. Desde luego era totalmente diferente a la de Sitges! Cómo se hace una paella de Requena? Véase el vídeo y el chef nos explicará.

Clever Wineries from the Comunidad de Valencia see clear export opportunities at the Wine Pleasures Workshops

2 03 2009


The Comunidad de Valencia has 3 Denominaciones de Origen: Alicante, Utiel – Requena and Valencia – all of which will be well represented at the Wine Pleasures Workshop: Buyer meets Spanish Cellar. Particpating wineries will be offering interesting blends using grape varieties such as Bobal, Monastrell, Cabernat Franc, Petit Verdot and Garnacha Tintorera for reds and Verdil, Gewurztraminer, Macabeo and Sauvignon Blanc for whites.

casa-sicilia1Today we feature the Casa Sicilia winery (DO Alicante) who return for a second appearance at the Wine Pleasures Workshop.

Casa Sicilia was founded in 1707, during the period of the third Marquis de la Romana, as a farmhouse dedicated to the production of high quality fruit, wine and oil.

HERETAT DE CESILIA is located in Novelda, Alicante,

240 metres above sea level. It has been a very important agricultural production centre in the area of the Medio Vinalopó for centuries. It owns land throughout the Medio Vinalopó Valley and includes the areas of Mola, Ledua, Sicilia and Alcaydías.

The silty loam soil texture has a high limestone content rich in iron oxides which balance and reduce problems of clorosis.

80 hectares of its own vineyards.

23 of which are planted with different varieties of vines, principally Monastrell, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Macabeo, Moscatel, Sauvignon blanc y Chardonnay and some other varieties which are currently being tried out, such as Petit Verdot, Albariño and Gewürztraminer.

The northern area of the estate is composed of clay and gypsum, associated with a low organic material content which allows good aromatic expressions and ensures the good structure of red wines from this region. The southern area consists of lemon and alluvial gravels from the river.

These light, fresh soils are well suited to the cultivation of white grape varieties.

The mediterranean climate combines with the influence of the continental climate to

delay the maturing process and maintain a low humidity all year around.

The most advanced technologies are applied in the elaboration process to achieve the best hygienic,

homogenisation and quality conditions. With a conical trunk structure and controlled temperature, the 150 Hl. stainless stell fermentation tanks allow greater extraction of the aromas, tannin and colour, which guarantees the optimisation of the whole process. Our elaboration process is based on a maximum respect for the product.

The fermentation process involves manual stirring and the addition of a neutral gas. During the maturing period we keep the decanting to a minimum, adding the oxygen needed using a micro-oxygenation process Finally, the wine is left to age in barrels made of French oak (75%), American oak (10%) and East European oak (15%). These barrels have been toasted differently to give different flavours and are renewed a 25% annual rate The wines bottled at Heretat de Cesilia, are the result of our dedication to the wine growing vocation, its culture and radition and the uniqueness of this region.

Technological innovation has also played a part in the elaboration of high-quality wines in small amounts and with good longevity. The excellence of our wine is a reflection of our endeavour to care for our grapes and production, and is guaranteed by our collaborative agreements with several universities.

These agreements ensure maximum quality due to the inclusion of the best scientific and technological advances in our processes, perfecting the traditional wine growing and development methods.

If you would like to get in touch with Casa Sicilia, please do so through their web site. Alternatively, we still have a few places available for you to meet the wine maker face to face at the Wine Pleasures Workshop: Buyer meets Spanish Cellar 2009.


30 12 2008


pedroSpeaker Pedro Calabuig – Pequeñas Bodegas de Levante

La Comunidad Valenciana is one of the most visited regions in Spain due to the nice temperatures during the year. When we talk about wines from Comunidad Valenciana, however, we mean regions with a long-standing tradition in producing wines, mostly with Monastrell red grape and Moscatel as the most popular white variety in these regions.

 The wine tourism in Comunidad Valenciana has not been developed seriously in the last years, but now days there are many wineries that have adapted their wineries in order to receive visits.  They have now notice that with the wine tourism they are able to sell a lot of bottles within the winery as well as promote their know-how and way of living. 

The Comunidad Valenciana has three Denominaciones de Origen.  These three regions are Valencia, Alicante and Utiel-Requena.  

Due to the weather and the increase of the demand of organic wines, there are many wineries who have reconverted their vineyards into the organic viticulture standards.  These wineries are small family owned wineries with low production and quality wines that are convince about natural agriculture and the respect for the nature.

The organic viticulture is the natural way of doing wine and a visit to the Comunidad Valenciana will give you the possibility to get to know more about it and who are the best representatives in every wine region.

To get in touch with Pedro please do so via his web site or through the Wine Pleasures Social Network.

Wine Pleasures has released the long awaited Conference and “After Conference” programme today.