2017 Bodegas Ponce 'La Xara’
Region: Manchuela < Castilla La Mancha < Spain
Grapes: Garnacha (Grenache)
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified biodynamic farming; clayey-calcareous soils; whole cluster fermentation in open-top 4,00kg capacity wood tanks then aged10 months in large-format, used French oak; bottled unfined/unfiltered with zero-added So2; 13% ABV
Winemaker: Juan Antonio Ponce
In the hot, dry region of Manchuela, inland from Valancia, Juan Antonio Ponce is known as the Prince of Bobal. Prince because he is young and forward-thinking - now 37, he has been a certified oenologist since age 17, and has championed biodynamic farming and natural winemaking from the start. Bobal because he has focused on and invested in the humble Bobal grape, a rustic, high-yielding varietal that gets no love, historically having played little more than a supporting role in bulk wines. He learned under Telmo Rodríguez, one of Spain's greatest winemakers, then started his own winery in 2005 in the unsexy DO of Manchuela. La Xara is his Garnacha (Grenache) bottling, a super interesting take on this classic Spanish grape. Textural, bright, slightly sour red fruits melt into savory black olive, spice and Mediterranean herb, with a whisper of smoke and spice on the finish.