Posted by: tomciocco | November 30, 2011


Maybe there should be a Latin star with that moniker, but alas, there isn’t.  But if there were, and if she were anything like the real Manchuela Bobal, (a wine) she’d be one stage-commanding belter of a vocalist. Putting my little metaphorical conceit aside, and slipping into reality, Manchuela is actually a fairly recently created wine region in northeastern Castilla, Spain, and Bobal is a diffuse, but still quite obscure red grape variety native to this general area of the Iberian Peninsula.

So as I began to say above, Bobal is, even at the risk of overstating the case, a beast of a grape. Like Carignan, or maybe even more accurately like California`s Petite Sirah, Bobal lacks only for subtlety: it is big, dark, exotically fruited, brooding, with a formidable acid/tannin structure. And because of this characteristic rigidity, many Bobal-based wines are whole-cluster-fermented in their skins with a process called carbonic maceration, which serves to maximize fruitiness, and minimize the rough and rustic structure. In the past, many wines made  in this fashion were indeed made more approachable as a result, but in doing so, the technique necessarily brought out too many candied, “punchy”, and simplified flavors, which mostly relgated them to the role of no-thought quaffing wines…

But as the whole cluster fermentation process was refined over time, many if not most of these flaws were polished out, and the technique is now producing bold and balanced wines like tonight’s blaring, busty Bobal…

Accompanying Ms. Bobal this evening was a torta de papas y hongos  (potato and mushroom frittata), and a pot of my take on pollo a la zamorano (chicken stewed with peppers, carrots, wine, saffron, almond paste, etc.) con arroz blanco…









Bodegas y Vinedos Ponce’ Clos Lojen Manchuela 2010

Saturated and completely opaque rosy blackish-purple color. Bold and intense nose of prune juice, mixed spices, black cherry syrup, sap, minerals, and violet. The wine is full-bodied,  with a pulpy, chunky mouthfeel, and a muscular power on the palate, pushing brooding flavors of unsweetened chocolate, black tea, wild berries, and fig paste set into an ample, dry, and puckering yet still warm tannin structure. The finish is moderately long, rich, and bitter-sweet.


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