Mariano Taberna / Bodega Cueva
La Portera, Valencia
Humble master Mariano Taberna makes a range of wines from his base west of Valencia as delicious and terroir reflective as just about anything I've tasted.
In much the same way as the first time I visited Jordi Llorens, when I initially sat to taste the range of wines here at Bodega Cueva, I had my breath taken away by the freshness, precision and sense of levity of the entirety of Mariano's work.
I had had been reading about Mariano's wines for months prior to my first visit but I must confess that, despite having worked in Spain for harvest in 2005 and 2006, I had very little experience with wines from this D.O., Utiel-Reqena. It's one of the most historical wine regions in Europe and after tasting what can be grown in this extraordinary terroir I can see why.
The Bodega Cueva has been producing wine since the 18th century and Mariano has been the custodian here for more than 20 years. His vineyards are largely planted to local varieties Bobal and Tardana, along with plantings of Macabeo, Tempranillo and Syrah. His red wines are produced from vines with considerable age, more than 60 years on average, the average age of the white varieties is 30 years. The soils here are dominated by limestone which lends the wines their distinct freshness and the climate is relatively severe. Summers are hot and dry though the diurnal temperature range is dramatic and the proximity to the coast (70km) means that cooling breezes are a constant feature of the climate. All of this combines to make a wine producing area that just makes sense.
In the winery, Mariano works with the same level of care as vignerons like Sam Vinciullo and Karl Schnabel. The wines are totally precise and represent their terroir and respective varieties with complete clarity. The whites are fermented with varying degrees of maceration and the reds are fermented predominantly in tank and often with significant proportions of whole bunches and berries.
We are very, very excited to be working with Mariano.