The wines of Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce
Natural wines from DO Manchuela, Spain, made from the Bobal variety

Manchuela is a lesser-known Spanish wine region inland from Valencia, specializing in the Bobal grape variety, which is also unfashionable. It’s a variety known for its thick skins and rusticity, but it does maintain acidity well, even in this warm, arid climate. The vines are untrained, grown as bush vines, and are not irrigated. Altitude is 700 m.

Juan Antonio Ponce (no sniggering at the back – it’s pronounced ‘pon-thay’) began his winery in 2005, at the age of 23. He works biodynamically in the vineyard, and in the winery takes a natural approach, using low levels of sulfur dioxide. He makes 3500 cases a year in a rented facility, with virtually no mechanization.

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 barrel, with no filtration or fining. They are all 100% Bobal. UK agent is Indigo Wine (

Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce 'Clos Lojen' 2009 DO Manchuela, Spain
13.5% alcohol. Sweet, ripe nose with warm, plummy dark cherry and blackberry fruit, and a hint of baked cherry pie. The palate is ripe and sweet but with a pronounced savoury, structured edge. Dense, mouthfilling and spicy with some drying tannins. Attractive and youthfull, but also nicely savoury. 91/100

Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce 'La Casilla Estrecha' 2009 DO Manchuela, Spain
14.5% alcohol. ‘Estrecha’ means narrow, and refers to the spacing of the vines. They are planted on calcareous clay, and are around 75 years old. The wine is concentrated and dense with a tight, sweet blackberry and blackcurrant fruit nose with some savoury, mineral notes. The palate is sweetly fruited and has firm spicy structure as well as fresh mineral notes. It’s a dense wine with nice tension between the sweet fruit and firmly tannic structure. 92/100

Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce 'Pino' 2009 DO Manchuela, Spain
14% alcohol. From mineral-rich sools, in a slightly cooler vineyard with 30 year old vines. Deep coloured with a youthful, purplish tinge, it has a fresh, sweet, dark cherry and blackberry fruit nose and some spicy notes. The palate is lively and fresh with lovely acidity and bright, dark cherry and plum notes. Spicy and grippy on the finish, this is an expressive wine with nice precision. 93/100

See also:

The wines of Escoda Sanahuja: natural wines from Spain

Wines tasted 11/10  
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