We have praised the work of Juan Antonio Ponce many times over the years. The accomplishments of this talented young grower from Spain's central-eastern Manchuela region are well documented: certified oenologist by age 17; rigorous advocate of biodynamic farming and natural winemaking; and, perhaps most important, dedicated champion of the historically humble Bobal grape. Like other rustic, high-yielding varieties, Bobal has long been relegated to supporting roles in bulk wines and rosés from Manchuela (as well as neighboring D.O. Utiel-Requena). Because it is hard to argue that any grape variety should be destined for mediocrity, we never tire of winemakers who take chances by isolating a grape, a vineyard, or a parcel, investing in it and allowing it to shine. And, in the case of Juan Antonio Ponce, we never tire of the wines!
Ponce farms his family's Bobal vines organically and biodynamically with painstaking attention to subtle shifts in terroir. Vines range from 30 to 85 years of age and grow at 700m elevation in sandy, calcareous and clayey-calcareous soils; grapes are harvested by hand and fermented whole-cluster with native yeasts. The resulting wines are expressions of unique terroirs and vineyard parcels that he vinifies individually in large old foudres and barrels, allowing a touch of carbonic maceration to moderate Bobal's natural tannic thrust and high levels of acidity.
Lovers of Beaujolais appreciate the floral finesse, taut tannins, and frisky acid found in Ponce's reds alongside Spanish spice and flesh. In addition to the exuberant, herbal cuvee P.F. (from 85-year-old Bobal on original rootstock) and the complex, mineral-rich Pino (from Bobal planted on a vestigial pine forest) we are happy to have the new vintage of Buena Pinta, based on the obscure Moravia Agria grape. It is also a pleasure to welcome the new vintage of Reto, Ponce's sole white wine. Made from Albilla (which might be the same grape as Albillo), Reto offers rich Iberian fruit, bright acid, and a silky texture that appeals to fans of elegant young whites from the Loire or Burgundy. -AR