LifestyleThe SIP CruGet to Know the Bold Bobal Grape

Get to Know the Bold Bobal Grape

When we think of Spanish wines, our minds often drift to names like Tempranillo, Rioja, and Albariño. However, in Spanish viticulture, there’s a lesser-known treasure waiting to be discovered – the Bobal grape. Despite its relative obscurity on the global stage, Bobal boasts a rich history and a unique character that sets it apart from its more famous counterparts. Originating from Spain, particularly the Valencia region, this grape variety is gaining recognition in the international wine scene, though not much of it has entered the “total wine” space yet. We’ll uncover the secrets of the Bobal grape, exploring its historical roots, distinctive attributes, and promising future.

Bobal’s History in Spain

Scientifically named Vitis vinifera, the Bobal grape has a fascinating history closely intertwined with Spain, especially the Valencia region. Though its exact origins remain a mystery, historical records hint at its presence for centuries, possibly dating back to Roman times. Valencia’s arid, sun-soaked climate provides an ideal environment for Bobal to thrive, even in challenging conditions.

For most of its existence, Bobal remained in the shadows of more renowned grape varieties. Historically, a significant portion of its harvest was used for bulk wine production or as we better know it, table wine. However, a transformative shift has occurred in recent decades, with winemakers and viticulturists recognizing the untapped potential of the Bobal grape.

What Sets Bobal Apart

The Bobal grape’s true distinction lies in its unique characteristics. These grapes are small, boasting a thick skin that imparts rich color and tannins to the resulting wines. Bobal wines are celebrated for their deep, opulent hues, often ranging into the purple spectrum, and their remarkable ability to age gracefully. The robust skin also acts as a shield against the scorching Valencian sun, with temperatures getting over 100 degrees, enabling these grapes to flourish in the region’s unpredictable climate.

In terms of flavor, Bobal wines are known for their bold and intense fruitiness, revealing notes of blackberry, pomegranate, plum, and licorice. Additionally, they often have subtle earthy undertones, like black tea, and cocoa powder which contributes to a well-balanced and complex palate. While some Bobal wines are crafted for immediate enjoyment, others benefit significantly from aging, which enhances their depth and complexity.

Bobal Outside of Valencia

Although deeply rooted in Valencia, the influence of the Bobal grape now extends beyond this region’s borders. In recent years, winemakers across various parts of Spain have started experimenting with Bobal, recognizing its potential to yield exceptional wines in Spain’s hot and dry climate. This expansion has given rise to Bobal wines from regions like Utiel-Requena, Manchuela, and even as far as the Canary Islands.

Furthermore, the international wine community has begun to take notice of Bobal’s uniqueness. Its resilience in the face of harsh weather conditions, coupled with its potential for crafting age-worthy wines, has captured the attention of wine enthusiasts and critics worldwide. Consequently, Bobal is steadily carving a niche for itself on the global stage.

Wines to Try 

1. Bodegas Mustiguillo ‘Quincha Corral’ 2019 & 2003

Bodegas Mustiguillo, known for elevating Bobal’s status as a premium grape, produces ‘Quincha Corral,’ a single-vineyard wine celebrated for its elegance and aging potential. This bold, typically dry wine has some amazing vintages. Younger wines taste of fresh raspberries and blackberries whereas older vintages can look as dark as ink, are very jammy, and have notes of cedar, smoke, and leathery meat.

2. Bodegas Vera de Estenas ‘Estenas Bobal’ 2020 

With a rich history dating back to the 16th century, Bodegas Vera de Estenas creates ‘Estenas Bobal,’ an expression of Bobal known for intense fruit flavors and well-integrated oak. This wine is 100% bobal grapes and was aged in an amphora for four months. It has aromas of clay, minerals, and berries and on the palate, there are intense flavors of blackberry and pepper. 

3. Finca Sandoval ‘Bobal’ 2016

Known for organic and biodynamic practices, Finca Sandoval presents a blend of Bobal and Syrah, highlighting its potential when combined with other varieties. This blend is bold and should be decanted to see its full potential out of the bottle. It has notes of blackberries, dark cherries, leather, cedar, and has a very smooth mouth feel. This wine could be aged for another 5-10 years;  might be one for the cellar! 

4. Bodegas Hispano+Suizas ‘Bobos Finca Casa La Borracha’ 2020 & 2017

Combining Swiss precision with Spanish passion, this winery offers ‘Bobos Finca Casa La Borracha,’ a premium Bobal wine known for its complexity and expression. This wine is silky smooth with a surprisingly sweet finish. Its fruit-forward intensity brings big ripe cherry flavors, blackberry, balsamic, and smoke. I mistook it for a malbec while blind tasting it because of its deep, complex, rich characteristics. This is a can’t miss wine! 

5. Dominio de la Vega ‘Paraje Tornel Bobal’ 2016 & 2017

Dominio de la Vega, known for exceptional sparkling wines, also produces ‘Paraje Tornel Bobal,’ a high-quality still red wine made from Bobal. At first, this wine seems a little weird, it has so much intensity when you first open it. If you can, allow this wine to sit open or decant for an hour or two. After decanting, it will have an intense mix of berries, earth, and some heafty tannins. This is a big bold wine that you should sit with by a fire.  

6. Bodegas Covinas ‘Enterizo Bobal’ 2020

Bodegas Covinas offers ‘Enterizo Bobal,’ an affordable and approachable Bobal wine that provides a great introduction to the grape’s character. This wine is big and jammy! It has notes of black currants, black cherries, star anise, vanilla, and chocolate! It is surprisingly smooth for the price and doesn’t linger in your mouth. 

Bobal was once overshadowed by more renowned varieties but is now emerging as a prominent player in the world of wine. If you like Gamay, Dolcetto, Zweiglt, and sometimes Malbec, this may be a great wine for you to try! With its captivating history, distinctive characteristics, and growing recognition, Bobal wines from Spain, especially those from Valencia, have a bright future. 

Have you tried any local varieties from Spain? Comment your favorite below! 

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