Coming to terms: Vicente Gandía – Bobal Único 2015

I’m not terribly old yet (I think) but I’m sure I’m already starting to repeat myself. I meet a lot of people and I give a lot of talks on things so I just get a bit scripted after awhile. I’m plopping this preface/warning here in case you’ve heard me rant previously about the grape, Bobal.

If you judge Spain at the Decanter Awards, you will get at least one panel of Bobal and when it comes up, your fellow judges will look at each other pleadingly and ask, “Um, anyone have any tips for approaching these?” Rustic, blunt, harsh, at times green, and a massive wall of tannins, you have trouble tasting much of anything for awhile after a flight of Bobal. Honestly, I could probably get a cavity filled without anesthesia after one of these and not feel a thing.

As you may note, I am clearly no fan of this grape. I’ve had upwards of 100 different wines made from it and very little has done much to win me over and those that score higher do so simply because the others are so bad. But this isn’t a new conversation and it’s not specific to Bobal. If talking about Carignan 20 years, you might have said similar things and now it’s an absolutely lovely grape making lovely wines. Grenache was the same as well as… well, just about every grape we use to make wine.

This is why when my Georgia book co-author Daria was in Utiel-Requena a few weeks back, I asked if she could pick up a bottle from the Vicente Gandía winery she happened to be visiting. She did and when passing through Barcelona tossed me the hot potato to see what I thought. I have to say, they’ve cracked it. They’ve made a Bobal that’s quite pleasant, even enjoyable to drink and here’s what they say about the process to get there:

At the outset the results were not particularly encouraging, and we had to reject entire runs that did not come up to standard. But then we learned that, by pruning young to reduce the grape yield per vine, picking from old vines and selecting the best grapes, excellent results began to come about.

Yeah, the select the best grapes and gentle winemaking techniques thing. I know, boring, but it does indeed work. They’re also not the only one producing a quality wine from this grape but at between 6.50-8€ you truly can’t beat the value and shows that the other cheap Bobals that exist really are bad wines. This Vicente Gandía bottle has given me hope that Bobal doesn’t have to drown in a sea of abrasive, mean-spirited tannins and can one day be as fine as all other fine wine grapes.

Bobal Único 2015
Very dark ruby, no rim, purple hue. Brambly red fruit, young red plum, bit of blueberry, kick of new wood, minor buttery notes, graphite, tar, minor bit of green fruit. Red and dark fruit continues on the palate, medium acidity, medium alcohol, great wealth tannins but broad and not spiky on the palate, light bit of vanilla sweetness on the finish. Medium finish and intensity.
100% Bobal 13% 8€
** Q 89