Aurelio García & Micaela Rubio are a husband-and-wife team that were born and raised in the tiny village of La Alberca de Záncara in the province of Cuenca. Both of them are respected winemakers who have consulted and worked as technical directors at several prestigious across Spain over their decades long careers.
Both winemakers share their home with one of Spain’s most misunderstood grape varieties – Bobal. This is Spain’s most planted grape variety, and is native to the Spanish southeast, specifically the provinces of Valencia and Cuenca. Bobal is a thick-skinned grape that historically has been used as a workhouse variety by local co-ops. However, we’ve heard this story told before in the history of Spanish viticulture, and the fact that this grape has been understood as a rustic and tannic blending grape championed by large cooperatives is no indication of the grape’s inherent quality. In fact, when sourced from old vineyards and vinified properly, Bobal can produce exceptionally complex and balanced wines, with layered structure, mouthwatering acidity, and potential for aging.
In 2011, Aurelio & Micaela lamented the fact that few quality producers were championing the spectacular old field blend goblet-trained vineyards of Bobal that were planted near their hometown. They founded their first winemaking project, Micaela Rubio, and began buying land in the villages of Pozoamargo and Casas de Benitez, both a short 30-minute drive from their hometown. Today, they are one of the hottest up and coming projects in the area, and one of Spain’s principal champions of the Bobal variety. When the JOS team first tasted Aurelio and Micaela’s wines in the Fall of 2021, we were floored. We had never tasted Bobal based wines that showed such depth of character, balance, and finesse.
In 2011, Aurelio and Micaela identified a small area close to the Río Jucar where there are still planted a high density of old field blend vineyards based around Bobal. Due to the proximity to the river, there is fantastic diversity of soil types, which are primarily alluvial with an impermeable surface of rounded river stones, identical to the galets found in Chateauneuf du Pape. Today, Aurelio & Micaela farm 5.2 hectares of old vineyards (all of which were planted pre-1960). While soil types range from sandy gravel to calcareous clay, all the sites are completely covered in canto rodado (Spanish for the galets found in Chateauneuf). Aurelio argues that this canto rodado maintains humidity in the soil during the hot summer months. As a result, while Aurelio and Micaela farm without irrigation, the plants do not normally suffer from hydric stress during the growing season, resulting in wines that give an elegant expression of Bobal with a “friendly” tannin. All the vineyards are field blends, planted 90% to Bobal with 10% represented by a mix of indigenous grape varieties – Pardilla, Malvasía, Moravia Agría, Moravia Dulce, and Rojal.
Aurelio and Micaela employ a respectful and low-intervention winemaking style, as they do in the vineyard. The different vineyard plots are fermented separately in open-top neutral barrels and 3,000L stainless steel tanks. Stems are employed in varying percentages during the fermentations, ranging from 20% to full whole cluster macerations depending on the cuvée and vineyard site. Sulfur levels are kept to an absolute minimum (total SO2 of 30PPM or below). Aging is carried out in a range of vessels, ranging from 4,000L vats, tinajas (earthenware vats), concrete vats, 225L barrique, and 500L puncheon. The resulting wines are a mind-boggling expression of Bobal – fresh, layered, complex, concentrated, and savory.