Bobal: lesser-known, but no less a grape
Bobal is Spain’s 3rd most widely grown grape, although you wouldn’t necessarily know that given that its wines it produces are still relatively little known.
Traditionally Bobal was used in bulk wines or as a blending grape to give structure and colour to wines. But it’s increasingly being used for single varietal wines. You will still see it blended, but these days it’s often grapes like Tempranillo and Garnacha that are being added to Bobal to give the wines a bit more aroma, complexity, and body.
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Bobal is a thick skinned, dark coloured grape, which is one of the reasons it was so popular in bulk wines. It’s also resistant to mildew and to drought. A grape which is less susceptible to disease and grows well in dry conditions is clearly going to be popular among wine producers, so it’s not surprising it is so widely grown. What is surprising is that it is not better known and has only recently started to get a name for itself as a wine producing grape in its own right.
Bobal is most commonly found in the Valencia area – particularly Utiel Requena but also in other regions like Extremadura, in the Denominación de Origen Ribera del Jucar, or DO Manchuela in Castilla La Mancha. It can be found at altitudes of up to 1,000 metres above sea level, where temperature variations between day and night helps add structure to the wine.
As a result, Bobal can produce lovely medium-bodied wines with fresh acidity, soft tannins, and a rich dark colour.
In terms of flavours, well you can expect lots of fruit flavours like raspberry and cherry, but you might also pick up some floral elements like violets, or perhaps sometimes even a touch of chocolate.
Bobal grapes produce beautiful, rounded red wines with plenty of flavour, but not too heavy. They tend to go well with lighter meat dishes like game and poultry.
We think Bobal is going to become more and more popular over the next few years, and we’d definitely recommend you try a bottle when you next get the chance.