Bobal is a thick, dark skinned grape variety that is indigenous to Spain. Its origin is believed to be the Utiel-Requena region of Spain, but it is extensively cultivated throughout the country with considerable plantings in Ribera del Juca, Manchuela, Castilla La Mancha, and the environs of Valencia. Although little known outside of its native land, Bobal is believed to be Spain’s third most cultivated grape variety with some 200,000 acres under vine. What may in part account for Bobal’s relative obscurity is that it has no less than 15 synonyms. Some of its more common pseudonyms are Bobos, Requena, Provechon, and Valenciana Tinta to name just a few.
Bobal is hardly a newcomer to Spain’s wine scene. Its origins date back to the 15th century, and perhaps beyond. Yet, how many people outside of Spain have ever heard of this varietal? Not many, for sure, but that is all the more reason to get excited. Bobal, like Spain’s other illustrious, indigenous red varieties (namely Cariñena Garnacha, Monastrell, and Tempranillo), Bobal is undergoing an extreme makeover.
For centuries Bobal played the role of supporting actor in anonymous blends, as it was often called upon to flesh out or freshen up wines of lesser character. However, today Bobal is increasingly being bottled on its own, especially from old vines. When Bobal vines begin to look like trees and their yields are kept low, they produce a rich, hauntingly aromatic wine. Moreover, Bobal grows well in Spain’s hot interior climate, resists oxidation and phylloxera, and it contains high amounts of the super anti-oxidant resveratrol. And most importantly, it tastes good. So, what’s not to like?