Valencia’s wines have improved steadily over the years. Recently they have come on in leaps and bounds, have established their own identity and the best can compete with the country’s top wines. These days they are a key component in Valencia’s gastronomy. There are three official denominaciones de origen (D.O):
• D.O Alicante: The production area for this DO covers 51 towns in the province of Alicante from two different areas: Alicante and La Marina
• D.O Utiel-Requena: This production area covers ten towns to the west of the province of Valencia.
• D.O Valencia: Wine for this DO comes from the vineyards of 66 towns in the areas of: Alto Turia, Clariano, Moscatel de Valencia and Valentino
Alicante wines are very fruity with a wide variety of grapes, which are used to make reds and whites (dry and sweet).
• Red wine grape varieties: Bobal, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir and above all Monastrell
• White wine grape varieties: Chardonnay, Moscatel Romano, Planta Fina, Merseguera
Two of the area’s most representative wines are Fondillón and Tinto
• El Fondillón: a mellow wine, with high alcohol content, made with the Monastrell grape, ideal served as a dessert wine. It has been named by the EEC (together with Port, Sherry and Champagne) as a high quality wine. You can buy this wine in any of the co-operative wine producers in Monóvar.
• Tinto: wine produced on a small scale and often compared to French wines; the young ones have an intense ruby colour which changes to amber as they get older. With a fruity nose, they are known for their freshness and strength. Wine lovers should make a point of trying some of these, such as the ones made in the village of Parcent (Bodegas Gutierrez de la Vega) – we particularly recommend Casta Diva.
If you want to try a dessert wine or take back a present of a bottle of dessert wine, we recommend you go for a sweet Moscatel from Marina Alta, the pride of this area.
The wine and food-loving traveller will find a very interesting route through the hinterland of the province of Valencia, through 40,000 hectares of the vineyards that produce the excellent reds and rosés of the D.O Utiel-Requena.
Most of the wines from this DO are red - in fact 94% of the wine-growing area is given over to red varieties. The main grape varieties are:
• Red: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo, Syrah and mainly Bobal
• White: Macabeo, Tardana, Chardonnay and Merseguera
The towns along this route are:
- Caudete de las Fuentes
- Siete Aguas
- Venta del Moro
- Villargordo del Cabriel
For more information about the wines and villages on this route, visit the Association responsible: "Asociación Ruta del Vino de la D.O Utiel-Requena” (Calle Sevilla, 12, Utiel). This is a perfect opportunity to try wines which have grown in prestige and quality (rosés, whites, reds, crianza wines, sparkling wines) and which are excellent accompaniments to the local specialities (hams, cured meats, rice etc)
• Rosés: fruity, cherry-coloured, fresh
• Whites: dry, greeny, gold colours
• Reds: slightly fruity, dark, ruby coloured and warming
Two villages particularly stand out for the quality of their wines: Requena y Utiel
Requena is 65km from Valencia and is wine territory par excellence. It’s a good idea to visit when you’re hungry so you can experience the local gazpacho with partridge, rabbit stew, snail paella or Requena hotpot, all washed down of course with some of the local DO wines, whether they be reds, roses or even a good sparkling wine.
Where to eat? Mesón del Vino: Avenida del Arrabal, 11
What to visit? La Torre del Homenaje This tower was built by the Arabs in the 10th century and inside it is the Wine Museum El Museo del Vino and rather appropriately el Monumento Universal a la Vendimia (a universal monument to the grape harvest). Don’t miss El Barrio de la Villa, which has been declared a Historic-Artistic ensemble.
When’s a good time to go? During the local fiestas – especially those that celebrate the grape harvest, such as the Proclamación de las Reina de la Vendimia (the proclaiming of the harvest queen), la Noche del Vino (Wine night!), la Bendición del Mosto (the blessing of the must)…
This village is 73 km from Valencia and, like Requena, is best known for growing grapes and producing wines. However it is also another excellent place to eat (these two things often seem to go hand-in-hand!): gazpacho with game, sardine pancakes, thick vegetable soup, cured meats and great desserts. A worthy accompaniment would be a bottle of Gran Reserva Barón de Turís, a wine which has recently won prizes in France.
Where to eat? La Cueva: Calle Santísima Trinidad, 21
What to visit? Las Bodegas de la Cooperativa de Utiel (Cooperative wine producers of Utiel) and the Bodegas Torre Oria (Marqués de Requena), el Museo del Vino de la Comunidad Valenciana (Valencia’s Wine Museum)
When’s a good time to go? Any time really, although if you’re there in June, there’s the added bonus of the village’s gastronomic fair La Feria Gastronómica de Utiel where you can sample all the local produce.
66 villages over four areas make up this DO of Valencia. The white wines (Alto Turia), roses and reds are becoming well known in Europe.
• Alto Turia: 10% of production (6 towns) grape varieties: Merseguera and Macabeo
• Valentino: (24 towns in the central area) white grape varieties: Moscatel, Planta Fina, Macabeo and reds: Garnacha, Tempranillo etc
• Moscatel de Valencia: (9 towns in the central area of Valencia) main grape variety: Moscatel
• Clariano: 30% of production (33 towns to the south) white grape varieties: Malvasía, Tortosí, Macabeo; red grape varieties: Garnacha, Monastrell, Tintorera, Tempranillo
The D.O Valencia wines are very varied:
• Fruity whites, aromatic and fresh with alcohol content between 10-12º
• Reds with a lot of body and very dark colours
• Fortified wines: Moscatels and mistelas
Valencian table wines are well-priced and perfectly adequate to go alongside a good meal.
• Cambrillas (Red Crianza) good with red meat, game and cured cheese
• Vall Sant Jaume (Red) ideal with meat, rice and pasta
• Cerro Gordo (Red) goes well with meat, game and mild cheese
Other villages in Valencia whose main activity is agriculture and particularly wine production are: Cheste, Chiva, Godelleta and Turís. You can sample good wines in all of these places.
This village is 27km from Valencia and is mainly a grape-growing area.
• Where to eat? Bar Sol (calle Chiva) and La Cambra (Avenida de Castilla)
• What to visit? Cheste’s Bodega Cooperativa (Co-operative wine producer) opposite the station, produces some excellent table wines with an alcohol content of between 12º-15º (dry whites, semi-sweet whites as dessert wines). We recommend the Cambrillas, Sechana, Conde de Cheste and the famous Mistela (Moscatel). We also recommend a wine which has recently won prizes in Italy: Reymos - a sparkling Moscatel which is an excellent aperitif and goes well with lunch and dessert.
• When’s a good time to go? In March during the Las Fallas and in October to take in the wine harvest fiesta Fiesta de la Vendimia
D.O Cava (Comunidad Valenciana)
With thanks to Emilio Requena for writing this guide
Written by Emilio Requena. Emilio is "valenciano" and works as a French and English teacher in a school in Valencia. He believes learning languages helps develop tolerance of difference and respect for other cultures.