Bodegas Chozas Carrascal Utiel-Requena Spain
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Bodegas Chozas Carrascal Utiel-Requena Spain

Chozas Carrascal is a 30 hectare wine estate founded by Spanish pharmacist Julian Lopez, and his wife, Jose Maria Peidro. The couple is assisted by French winemaker Michel Poudou. The appellation in this part of Spain east of Valencia is Utiel-Requena. Here the hot climate is tempered by elevations of 2000 feet and higher. Though Julian and Jose Maria acquired the property in 1990, the first wine did not emerge from the winery until 2003. Chozas Carrascal divides its vineyard blocks almost mathematically, allocating equal sized three hectare blocks to the production of international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Viognier, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc as well as Spanish natives Garnacha, Bobal, Monastrell, Tempranillo and Macabeo. These wines are brought to the United States by importer Alex Berlingeri.

The 2006 Chozas Carrascal Las Tres, $19, is a white wine composed of Macabeo, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The Macabeo goes straight from harvest to the wine press to be fermented in stainless steel. The Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay see an initial seven hour cold soak maceration before fermenting in French oak for six to eight weeks. Here is a wine of great visual clarity, a greenish golden-tinged straw. The nose took some work to decipher but the end reward was orange blossom, white flowers, fresh citrus and honey. The wine has medium body and mid-level acidity; this is not the sassy kind of acidity but it yet has resilience and some staying power. The palate brings a confection of fruit: dried fruit, apricot, orange, and above all the perfect peach. A nice surprise is a salty mineral touch. On the finish the mineral becomes gravel and slate and that peach just keeps coming. Food friendly, but it would be a shame not to enjoy some of this on its own, or with that perfect summer peach.

The 2006 Chozas Carrascal Las Dosces, $15, has, as the name implies, two constituents: Tempranillo and Syrah, vinified separately before blending and aging for five months in French oak. A caveat on this wine from the start: it has bitter elements. I truly enjoy bitter flavors, but I realize these are not for everyone. The wine is a deep lucid ruby. The nose is a rich blend of black cherry, licorice, nutmeg, clove, black pepper, prune, and violet. In the mouth the wine is decidedly dry, with some tangy acidity and moderate tannins. Here I enjoyed black raspberry, smoke, mocha, chocolate, vanilla, nutmeg and notes of roasted coffee and roasted walnuts on a bitter tinged finish. If you want to taste Old World earth, you have it here.

The 2006 Chozas Carrascal Cabernet Franc, $46, is about as mouth-filling a wine as I have had in a great while. My bottle, as the handwritten and signed annotation indicates, was number 2863 out of 3855, a decidedly small production. The grapes for this wine are macerated in concrete tanks for two to three weeks, fermented in the tanks and in wooden barrels before being given a bit of bottle aging. A nearly opaque violet, the wine brings aroma notes of concentrated black cherry, blackberry, nutmeg, black pepper, chocolate, vanilla, and warm sweet oak. The wine is full bodied, dry, with solid tangy acidity and very fine grained yet chewable tannins. A range of wood elements combines with the solid fruit here, resulting in a dark chocolate toasted almond bar with spicy vanilla, cedar and a touch of roasted coffee. The finish is fairly straightforward, a good mixture of fruit acidity with the tannins and the wood elements, adding a slight bitterness at the finale. The bottom line on this wine is good solid fruit combined with well employed wood, each surrounded by a complex array of flavors and textures.


Verdict: A winning lineup.


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Spain's Utiel-Requena, west of Valencia, shows the promise of high altitude wine production.

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award


Bodegas Chozas Carrascal winemaker Michel Poudou and owners Julian Lopez
and Jose Maria Peidro

Bodegas Chozas Carrascal winemaker Michel Poudou and owners Julian Lopez and Jose Maria Peidro.

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