Viña Memorias Winery Reinvigorates Bobal Varietal
By Elizabeth Kratz
Annie Molco and her family established Viña Memorias in 2016 to make wines from Spain’s Utiel-Requena region’s historic but rapidly disappearing varietal, the Old Vine Bobal. Imported by Red Garden, these are among the first kosher bobal wines available in the United States from this Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) near Valencia.
Bobal grapes make deliciously-rich darkly colored wines similar to tempranillo, the grape that makes Rioja wines. Bobal old vine bush grapes, which generally only grow in this inland PDO, have been revived by a small group of producers because these grapes thrive in the region’s harsh winters and hot, dry summers, and are harvested very late, generally in mid-October. Bobal also did well in the 1930s because it was found to be resistant to phylloxera.
As of 2015, it was Spain’s third most planted grape after airen and tempranillo. The Molco family also has committed to pesticide-free sustainable farming, strictly rain-fed viticulture and traditional craftsmanship.
“A great wine is the reflection of the land that nurtured it,” said Armando Caracena-Molco, Viña Memorias’ head of global business development. “We are devoted to respecting the characteristics of our environment.”
Located in a region with a rich 2,500 year old winemaking tradition and tending productive old vines that date back to the 1930s, Viña Memorias’ Bobal vineyards have played an important role in Spanish winemaking. Because Annie Molco noticed that neighboring vineyards were uprooting their historic Bobal vines in order to plant more popular strains, Molco and her family decided to take on the challenge of producing high-quality, terroir-driven wines, making them kosher from the first 2016 vintage.
I tasted two of the wines: The Memorias del Rambam Crianza Bobal Old Vine 2016, which is aged 12 months in American oak. It is a vanilla scented deep red wine, with lovely acidity, essence of dark fruits, a nice balance with rich yet soft tannins and lovely finish. Its gentle tannins make it accessible and enjoyable to both the novice and experienced wine taster.
Yunikko Tinaja Bobal 2018, which is aged for 18 months in a historic-to-the-region red clay jar known as the Tinaja, rather than oak barrels or steel vats. The jar imparts a clean yet earthy mineral essence, delivering a wine with notes of blueberry, red and black fruit and chocolate, with no influence of oak. The fruit and mineral-rich terroir are central to this wine.
Red Garden Inc. is the exclusive United States importer of Viña Memorias. “It is an honor to represent Viña Memorias in the United States and help them build their brand recognition in this new market,” said Mendel Ungar, president of Red Garden. “Their unique old-vine, single varietal wines have a cult following in Europe and Israel, and we are excited to offer them to our customers.”