In the province of Valencia, Spain, the vineyards of Bodega Chozas Carrascal flourish in the Denominación de Origen Protegida (a protected domain) known as Utiel-Requena. Helmed by María José, the daughter of founder María José López-Peidro, the winery’s still and sparkling wines represent the region’s highest standards. It was there—on a sourcing trip through the Utiel-Requena DO—that Mika Bulmash, founder and CEO of the NYC-based importer Wine for the World, truly discovered the varietal Bobal.
“I was around 4 1/2 months pregnant and my tastebuds and senses were heightened,” Bulmah tells us about the experience. “While I’m generally quite selective about the wines we work with, the bar to impress was even higher during that time. I found myself amazed again and again with this varietal for its combination of beauty and affordability. Of the Bobals that I tried, I was particularly smitten with the Bobal from Chozas Carrascal.”
Bulmash, who focuses her efforts on boutique producers with meticulous practices, was taken by the estate’s beauty and the education behind their efforts. “This is important because the winery itself is a Vino de Pago, a rare designation given to only 19 wineries in all of Spain. To become a Vino de Pago, not only is there a high quality requirement, but the winery must possess unique attributes in their area. It is its own appellation, or like a Grand Cru in France. So it was really interesting to experience what made the winery so unique.”
Chozas Carrascal sits in the midst of a nature preserve and the team behind the brand takes their responsibility as environmental stewards quite seriously. Bulmash was drawn to their solar panels and quest for carbon neutrality. Further, she refers to a visit as very much being a geology class. “They also show in their cellar the various layers and combinations of limestone and clay soil that confer the unique characteristics. They have cut into their soil and through glass you can see the layers,” she says.
María José did her PhD dissertation on fermenting Bobal in various vessels. In the process, she found that concrete was the best for the varietal. “Spain has a lot of approachable varietals, but I believe Bobal is the future for a few reasons,” Bulmash explains. “As a varietal, it’s just so approachable. It strikes a great balance of familiarity with a hint of something new. It will show bright fruit, medium to high acid, with a round, softer, silky mouthfeel, medium body and non-aggressive, medium tannins.”
“In the case of Chozas Carrascal’s Bobal, because the estate has a cooler microclimate than their peers in Valencia and are located 800m above sea level, also part of the reason why they are a Vino de Pago, the alcohol level is quite low—making it a clean, more linear wine. It is a solid varietal that is easy to make well,” she concludes.
At present, Chozas Carrascal‘s Bobal—known as Las Dos Ces Tinto—can be found in several venues in Manhattan (Hamilton Wine House, Roma, Seaport Wines, Maison du Vin, Harlem Wine Gallery) and Brooklyn (Bedford Wines, Henry Street Wines, New Fine Wine, Heights Chateau), with prices ranging between $14 and $17 per bottle.
Images courtesy of Wine for the World