Manchuela, a lesser-known Spanish wine region that is inland from Valencia, is where the Bobal varietal thrives, Known for its thick skins and rusticity, controlling the Bobal’s vigor is what makes for a well-balanced and interesting wine. While there are very few defenders of this region and even fewer winemakers that are dedicated to this varietal, Juan Antonio Ponce stands proud as a master and interpreter of the Bobal grape.
Juan Antonio Ponce began his winery in 2005, at the age of 23. He works biodynamically in the vineyard, and in the winery he takes a natural approach, using low levels of sulfur dioxide. His philosophy is to make natural wines with wild yeast fermentation, to respect the local varietal Bobal and to express its terroir.
The winemaking process begins with hand harvesting. The bunches of grapes are then chilled to 8 °C and fermented whole-bunch, with the stems, in a type of fermentation known as “remango,” which was once popular in Rioja.
Juan Antonio Ponce worked as the right-hand man to Telmo Rodriguez at Cia de Vinos Telmo Rodrigues for 5 years. During this time he was in charge of winemaking, vineyard management, etc. His father, who owned some land in Manchuela, decided to start this project with him.
“Reto is the first white wine made in our winery. It is produced from 4 different vineyards between 40 and 60 years old. Grape varietal is Albilla and vineyard soil is mainly calcareous. Wine is aged for 8 months in old barrels 600-700 liter capacity. During harvest, grape are stored in cases and are kept refrigerated over 48 hours in order to temperature up to 43ºF, then grapes are pressed by using a vertical press system. After pressing, must is kept in fermented in barrels with lees at 60ºF. Yield is 20hl/ha. Aging is conducted on lees until bottling.”