Juan Antonio Ponce gained experience working for Telmo Rodríguez before setting up his own project at the young age of 23. He’s based in Manchuela, and his speciality is working with local grape Bobal. Farming is biodynamic, and the vines are dry grown as bush vines despite the arid climate.
Clos Lojen is selected from six parcels: Abuleo, Señorita, Cerro, Lujan, Embudo and Almendros, and these vines are 30-50 years old. Soils are limestone.
The winemaking process begins with hand harvest. 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. The bunches are foot-trodden in small wooden vats of 1500–4000 kg capacity. After foot treading for a few days, the must is transferred to barrels for the remainder of the alcoholic fermentation, and the malolactic fermentation. Thus the extraction is extremely gentle and relatively short, and the must ferments with the gross lees in the barrel.
The wines are typically bottled after 7 months in barrels of various sizes with no filtration or fining. All Ponce’s wines are brilliant value for money.
Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce Clos Lojen Bobal 2020 Manchuela, Spain
13% alcohol. This is from six parcels of old vine Bobal at 800 m altitude. It has a gorgeous aromatic nose with sweet cherries and strawberries, as well as ginger, pepper and some dried herbs. The palate is spicy and vivid with some brightness, but also a sweet, silky texture to the cherry and berry fruit. It’s smashable, but there’s plenty to hold your interest here. Fresh and digestible, with lovely supple fruit. Very ‘new Spain’ in style. 91/100 (£14.50 The Sourcing Table [declaration of interest – I am contributing editor here])
(UK agent is www.indigowine.com)