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Pago de Tharsys
by
Kathy and Terry Sullivan

Pago de TharsysSummary: Pago de Tharsys, in the outskirts of Raquena, is a burgeoning agritourism site. The winery offers wine, cava, tours, lodging and a venue for private events. In addition to the wine and cava, there is an onsite distillery. A lodge is also available for those who want to spend a few nights next to the vineyards.

While visiting Pago de Tharsys we learned that the name means vineyard thunder. This is an unusual winery with an emphasis on agritourism and quality cavas. We quickly discovered that Pago de Tharsys offers cavas, wines, spirits, lodging and space for private events including weddings and business meetings. We stayed in the lodge for two evenings. On one of the days of our visit, there was a wedding reception in the large event space next to the lodge.

Vineyards

Pago de TharsysThe 12 hectare (30 acres) vineyard surrounds the winery buildings. The vineyard has several varieties of grapes including Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Bobal, Albariño, Tempranillo and an acre of an unusual grape variety, Bronx. Two rows of vines are growing up a trellis that connects the two rows at the top. This is a prime spot for photography and the wedding party headed to this spot.

History

According to the owner and winemaker Vicente Garcia, the winery and vineyard are a result of “French ideas, American ideas and money from the bank to start this business.” Vicente founded Pago de Tharsys in 2002. Vicente studied oenology in France and traveled to California wine country to search for ideas. His family owned a farmhouse. Next to the house there are remains of a winery built in the 19th century.

Pago de TharsysThe old winery was used for more than 100 years before eventually falling into disrepair during the 20th century. Today, after much restoration, the cellar for the old winery has been repurposed. Cava bottles are now aging in what use to be vats for winemaking. These large vats, when used in the 1800s had wood slats placed on the tops. Grapes were put over the wood slats and the grapes were crushed by feet. The juice would flow below and in a couple of days would begin fermenting. After fermentation, the wine would drain out from a circular opening at the bottom of the vat. These openings have been wonderfully restored.

Pago de TharsysOur tour of the property included a visit to the vineyards, winery, distillery, barrel room and old cellar. A stainless steel destemmer, press and tanks were in the large winery production building. In a smaller building next to the winery, the still is composed of several copper columns. A number of distilled spirits are made. Some of the items include a liquor of coffee, cream of orange, liquor of herbs and a limoncello.

The barrel room was our next stop. There are two sections of this room, one more photogenic than the other. The tour proceeded to the cellars where cava was aging in what use to be the vats for the 19th century winery.

Tasting Room

Pago de TharsysThe tour ended in the tasting room and retail shop. A short tasting counter is at one end of the rectangular space. The room’s layout make it convenient to walk around while tasting cava or wine. The tour is great for families. While we visited a multi-family group entered the tasting room after their tour. Wine glasses were already set out for the adults’ tasting and smaller glasses were set out for the children to taste juice.

We discovered talking with Vicente is like attending an interesting college lecture. He taught oenology and can go into professor mode with enthusiasm when curious visitors want to learn about cava production or the old winery. Vicente explained his motto: “Be strong in life, and do everything you can, the best you can.” For the winery this means 100% effort and 100% good. Vicente became emotional when he spoke of his father. For Vicente, Pago de Tharsys is a labor of love.

Pago de TharsysAnother unique idea at Pago de Tharsys is a ceramic front label on some of the wine and cava bottles. The ceramic industry flourished in Valencia at one time. However, Valencia was somewhat cutoff from Requena in part because of the distance and that Requena is on a plateau. Putting a ceramic tile label on the bottle is like bridging the gap from Requena to Valencia. Vincente’s daughter designs the ceramics which are removable and can be used to decorate walls.

Cavas and Wines

While visiting with Vicente, we enjoyed tasting several of his cavas.

Rosado Brut was produced with 100 percent garnacha. The cava was a red with orange hue and offered aroma notes of strawberry and raspberries. The taste also had strawberry, raspberry and mineral notes. The finish had mineral hints.The wine had a lively mouthfeel.

Pago de TharsysBrut Reserva Millesime Rosé 2011 was 100 percent garnacha with a salmon color. The cava was aged for 24 months. It had a steady bead of bubbles with a small mousse. The aroma and taste were of strawberries and a slight mineral hint. The lively mouthfeel finished with strawberry notes.

Millesime Brut Reserva 2011 was produced with a blend of Chardonnay, Macebeo and Parellada. This cava was aged for 24 months. The cava was yellow with steady beads and mousse. The aroma was of pear and apple. The taste notes included pear, apple and mineral. It had a lively mouthfeel. The finish was fruit yielding to mineral.

Blanc de Negre Brut Espanosa was 100 percent Bobal that was aged for 20 months. This light yellow wine offered a floral aroma. The taste had floral and white peach notes. The mouthfeel was lively. The fruit yielded to mineral. Bobal is not one of the permitted grapes to be used for cava and thus this sparkling wine is known as espanosa.

The Dulce was a sweet wine made with the Bronx grape. It was a bright yellow color. The wine offered tropical fruits and jammy fruits on the aroma. The taste was like honey and fruit jams. Although sweet, the wine was balanced and the acidity helped to cut the sweetness.

Wine Tourism

Tourists who are looking for a unique stay near the town of Requena will enjoy a stay at the “rustic apartments” at Pago de Tharsys. We discovered that the rooms are simple and comfortable. A relaxing community room is on the lower level, while outside tables and chairs offer a spot for relaxing with a glass of cava. An evening’s stay at Pago deTharsys includes a light breakfast.

The wine shop is open daily throughout the year. Guided tours and informative wine tastings are offered daily.

Pago de Tharsys
Apdo. Correos 32
46340 Requena
(Valencia), Spain

 

Article written June 2015



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