Wine Pleasures Workshop: Buyer meets Spanish Cellar
The Chozas Carrascal family-run wine estate (bodega in Spanish) is located in San Antonio de Requena, a small town located half-way between the larger towns of Utiel and Requena. The wine estate currently covers some 40 hectares where the vines live in harmony with almond and olive trees, the three pillars of the local economy and key elements of a healthy Mediterranean diet. San Antonio de Requena is located some 66 km (40 minutes by car) from the Mediterranean vibrant coastal city of Valencia and some 285 km from Madrid, the capital of Spain. The town is located at the beginning of the central plateau of the Iberian Peninsula and our wine estate is therefore located at an altitude of some 720 metres above sea level. Such conditions make Requena a perfect place to produce wine, boasting continental weather with a high influence as well of Mediterranean weather. Being on a plateau, sunshine is strong and abundant, allowing the vines to go through photosynthesis very well. The ground is not very fertile so we can produce good quality grapes in small quantities, allowing quality to be maintained at the highest level therefore.
Wine has been produced in this area as far back as the 5th Century B.C. and the Valencian region has always been of the key engines of Spanish wine production. CHRONOLOGY: The López family decided in 1988 to embark on a truly ambitious and exciting project to produce first-class wines of the highest calibre to be enjoyed world-wide. During more than 10 years the López family and its dynamic team have dedicated all of its time and efforts to restructure the old vines, preserving the old Bobal vines whilst planting new grape varieties including Chardonnay, Cabernet and Syrah. The result manifests itself in excellent wines combining the best of the old and new wine worlds. Key dates and moments include: • 1988: the López family decided to return to their family’s town, buying a small estate of some 30 hectares with an old house dating from 1870. In doing so Julián López came back to the same region where his father, uncles, grandfather and great-grandfather were born. In 1988 this estate had the old house, only 1.5 hectares of vineyards (Bobal planted in the 1930s) and 28.5 hectares planted with onions, sunflowers, barley, etc… • 1992: Julián López and his wife María José met Michel Poudou, a renowned French winemaker that was working all over Spain (Rioja, Murcia, Albacete, etc…) and southern France. Together they decided to found a chateau in the Valencian region. They started by planting 10 new varieties of grapes, being the first ones in the region to plant grape varieties such as Syrah, Cabernet franc, Cabernet sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc and to do so on trellises. They planted 3,333 vines per hectare instead of 1,600 as usually done in this region. With more vines per hectare there is more competition between all of them so they produce fewer grapes per plant – these are better quality grapes as a result. • 1995: The vines started to produce grapes and these grapes were sold to some of the best wine-producers (e.g. Bodegas Murviedro) in the area. Until 2002 all grapes were sold to other wine-producers. • 2003: As the vines were 11 years old, they were mature enough to produce good quality and good quantities for the coming decades. The López family decided therefore to build one of the Valencian region’s finest wineries and to produce their wines from their own grapes. The new and pioneering winery of CHOZAS CARRASCAL was then born!
CHOZAS is the nickname of the family of Julian López in the town of Requena. In Spain it is very common for families and/or individuals to have nicknames – this way each new generation is called the same way as their ancestors. CARRASCAL is the local name for the area where the wine estate is located. Carrascal means Holm Oak and in the 18th century this area was full of such oak trees. The winery harvests at very early in the morning in order to preserve the grapes and their unique aromas and qualities in every way possible. Each of the 11 grape varieties is fermented individually.
The winery has a capacity of 300,000 litres of which 140,000 are in concrete tanks for red wines and the rest in stainless steel tanks. By introducing concrete tanks to local wine-making practices Chozas Carrascal was a pioneer in the Valencian region. The use of concrete tanks is actually currently being studied by the Polytechnics University of Valencia given the good results being achieved thanks to the level of oxygenation provided by concrete. All of this coupled by an excellent and highly motivated human team of individuals work non-stop to make a dream come true: to produce quality wines with their own identity and with grapes coming only from our own wine estate.
OUR WINES: Chozas Carrascal produces a fine array of quality red, rosé and white wines. They are called LasDosCes (red), Las Tres (white), Las Cuatro (rosé) and Las Ocho – The Two Cs, The Three, The Four and the Eight. Each of these names/numbers corresponds to the number of grape varieties blended in each wine. LasDosCes is a new young red wine that we produce by blending Tempranillo and Syah, hence the name The Two Cs. The Cs come from the abbreviation of Chozas Carrascal. Las Tres is a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Macabeo, the three white grape varieties that we grow on our wine estate. Las Cuatro, our superior rosé wine, is a blend of Tempranillo, Syrah, Merlot and Grenache, four different grape varieties. Las Ocho, our very complex red wine, is a blend of eight different grape varieties grown on our wine estate: Bobal (local variety), Monastrell, Grenache, Tempranillo, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. We also produce a single varietal wine called El Cabernet f de Chozas Carrascal. This wine is made with 100% Cabernet franc and aged for 6 months in French oak barrels. This grape variety originally comes from France, from the Loire River, and is not very common in Spanish wines and above all in single varietal wines. We also produce another red wine blended with 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache and aged for 14 months in French oak barrels. With Grenache grapes we also elaborate a sweet red wine (desert wine) called El Dulce. In 2006 we have elaborated our first CAVA with Chardonnay and Macabeo – this cava will be ready to drink this coming June-July 2008. Michel Poudou and Julián have also bought together a small winery in southern France, close to the beautiful city of Carcassonne, where they produce only 20,000 bottles of an excepcional desert wine with moscatel. This Muscat was selected in 2007 as one of the best 10 Muscat wines in the world – an achievement that we are very proud of.
Interested? Please feel free to contact Chozas Carrascal through their web site or if you are available to travel to Barcelona for the Wine Pleasures Workshop Buyer meets Spanish Cellar you can meet thier Export Manager Pieter Whaley.