I was recently lucky enough to get limited quantities of Bodegas Ponce's special single vineyard cuvees and they are some of the most exciting and compelling wines I've drunk in recent memory. I've written about Bodegas Ponce already concerning their excellent entry level wine, the intriguingly smoky yet still juicy and fun Clos Lojen
Here's a quick over view on why you should care about Ponce. Bodegas Ponce is in Manchuela, a DO west of Valencia in western Catalonia. It's a lesser known area and not so highly thought of for fine wine making. There is wine growing here, but much of it is bulk and all sorts of grapes are grown from Grenache to Bobal, to Alicante, to I don't know what. Bobal is traditional though and the Ponce family has been farming it for many generations. Despite how long the Ponce family has been growing grapes here their grapes had always been sold off to other people. In 2005 they made the jump and built their own winery. They are now the best producer of Bobal and the one doing the most to demonstrate the complexity and subtlety that the grape can achieve if taken seriously.
That all sounds promising, right? And I really liked the Clos Lojen, so I decided to get my hand on some P.f and Pino: two of Ponce's higher end wines. I sampled them with some people last week and they were the most compelling exciting wines I've had in many months. Here's what I thought:
Bodegas Ponce P.f
P.f is made from a 3 hectare plot of 80 year old Bobal vines planted on their own root stock in sandy soil The phyloxera louse doesn't survive in sandy soil allowing these vines to be planted on their own root stock; an exceptionally rare situation. This is the only wine made entirely from ungrafted vines that I've tasted in a couple years.
The P.f's aroma is rich and powerful; there's a lot of ripe dark fruit but also a meaty quality like smelling a seared steak. Rich, deep, and smoky is how I'd describe the P.f's smell.
On the palate the P.f is dense. It's dark and spicy and sticks to the inside of your mouth. The first flavor sensations of the wine are kind of lively and fun, but the mid palate deepens and then the finish has serious tannins that linger, but are softened but this lush almost milk chocolatey component that I taste at the finish of the wine. I don't have a lot of experience with Bobal, but coming from 80 year old vines and ungrafted this must be an exceptionally rare demonstration of what the grape can do.
Bodegas Ponce Pino
Ponce's Pino is also 100% Bobal, but this is from 30 year old vines on a separate vineyard plot that is the rockiest that they own. Ponce used to blend the grapes from this plot into one of their other cuvees, but they realized that he wines of this rocky vineyard plot were always the most vibrant, racy, chiseled expression of Bobal each year. So they started making a wine from just that patch. Ponce only has grapes to make about 200 cases a year.
The color is inky dark and vividly purple. The vintage is 2012 but it looks like it's 2014.
The Pino's aroma is really gorgeously floral; it's edgy, it's vibrant, it's floral. I smell roses, violet, very fresh raspberry, some orange, and a hint of a herbaceous spiciness.
On the palate the Pino tastes serious. It's deep and linear in it's parade of flavors. High acidity and vivid raspberry strawberry fruit but it tastes like it's not giving everything up yet. I dare to say I can't get past 2nd base with this wine right now. But even though the P.F is technically a better balanced and more complete wine I prefer the Pino. This is a completely different racy, intense, hard to get to expression of Bobal and I love it.
The P.F is available at Caiola's, Tess's Market, Vinland, Browne Trading, Maine and Loire, and the Blue Hill Wine Shop. Maine and Loire is the only shop carring the Pino. They retail for about $28 and $43 respectively.