By Paul Caputo

As a visitor to the area it is difficult to appreciate just how extreme the climate can be here. Despite its vicinity to the Mediterranean, Utiel-Requena experiences a continental climate. Summers are hot and dry, drought never far away. Winters are cold and can throw up violent hailstorms. In short, it’s not a hospitable place for grape growing.

Utiel-Requena is known primarily for one red grape variety, Bobal, which covers around 75% of the vineyards. The wines therefore follow the varietal’s style, that of deep but soft wines with fleshy bramble fruit and dry dusty tannins. Some of the large co-operative wineries, of which there are quite a few, will blend Bobal with other grapes, Garnacha or Tempranillo for example or Cabernet Sauvignon.

The soils are predominantly black, with notable quantities of limestone. They tend to have good drainage. The more interesting producers are those with vineyards higher up, 600 to 800 metres, where swings in night and day temperature contribute to creating wines with more aromatic profile and it must be said, less need for manipulation in the cellar.