A Happy Moment with Chozas Carrascal from Utiel-Requena

Chozas Carrascal Las Ocho

Chozas Carrascal Las Ocho

Don’t you love it when you find $10 in the pocket of a jacket you haven’t worn for a while? Or when you’re at the store and don’t have a coupon, but the cashier scans one for you anyway? Those little happy moments help make the day just a little brighter and put the spring back in our step. Well, a similar thing happened to me the other night with a bottle of wine.

I was running low on wine and the caliber I’ve been drinking these days is hardly anything to get excited about (since moving back to Florida, my stash of samples has dwindled dramatically and on the whole, I’m not overly impressed with much I’m finding on the local shelves). Amongst several bottles of plonk, I spied and interesting prospect – a red blend from Chozas Carrascal in Utiel-Requena, Spain – that had been sent to me by someone I’d connected with on LinkedIn. Tasting this wine was certainly a happy moment – it was love at first sip!

Chozas Carrascal Las Ocho

Utiel-Requena is not a wine region I’m extremely familiar with, but the Chozas Carrascal Las Ocho is certainly a fantastic ambassador for the region! It is located in Valencia, in southeast Spain, just north of Almansa, Yecla, Jumilla and Bullas, and northwest of Alicante. The wine is a very interesting blend of eight varieties (you may have guessed from the name), including century-old indigenous Bobal, grown on the 40 hectares surrounding the family’s estate 2295 feet (700m) above sea level – which in this case is the Mediterranean Sea, 45 miles (60km) to the east of the estate. The 8 varieties that make up the blend are Bobal (9%), Monastrell (8%), Tempranillo (16%), Garnacha (6%), Cabernet Franc (5%), Cabernet Sauvignon (19%), Syrah (19%) and Merlot (18%) – and they are all vinified separately. 75% of the wine goes into French oak barrels to age for 14 months, while the rest stays in concrete tanks. The blend varies each vintage.

Chozas Carrascal attained the coveted ‘Vino de Pago‘ classification, designating them as a single-estate in 2012, and were only the second winery to Utiel-Requena to do so. Julián López and his wife María José purchased the land in 1992 and planted 11 varieties (each allocated no more than 3ha), but they didn’t produce any wine until 2003. Instead, they and their children (who also work in the business), traveled around Spain and France learning everything they could about growing vines and making wine and now, with the help of French winemaker, Francesc Girón, have established themselves as talented vignerons in their own right.

And another happy little moment comes when you discover that you won’t need a kind cashier with a handy coupon to help afford this wine as it retails for under $25!

So since this is a new year, and we’ve all (hopefully!) resolved to drink adventurously, go ahead and add Chozas Carrascal Las Ocho and the wines of Utiel-Requena to your list of ‘must drink in 2014’!

What happy wine moments are you looking forward to this year? Let me know in the comments, on Facebook, or tweet me @tara_devon.

Here’s to your wine adventures!

Tara – the Wine Passionista

P.S. Sorry about the less than fabulous photos!

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