Bobal is a red wine grape varietal - believed to be native to the Utiel-Requena region in Valencia, Spain. The name derives from the Latin word ‘bovale’, in reference to the grape bunches are in the shape of a bull’s head. It is grown predominantly in the Utiel-Requena D.O (Denominación de Origen). where it represents about 90% of all vine plantings, and is also planted in significant numbers in Valencia, Cuenca and Albacete.
It can only be found in small quantities in other regions of Spain: La Manchuela (Castile La Mancha), selected vineyards in Ribera de Guadiana DO, Alicante DO, Murcia, Campo de Borja, Calatayud, Cariñena, Valdejalón. Small quantities are also grown in Rosellón - (in the south of France) and on the island of Sardinia - Italy.

 

With records of over 500 years, Bobal is now believed to be the third most planted grape varietal in Spain, sitting behind Airén and Tempranillo. The vine is very vigorous and highly productive; it adapts well to all types of trained vine shape but is most commonly grown as a low bush and less often on trellises.
The Bobal grape is perfectly adapted to the local climate and so is resistant to extremes of weather and diseases; the pulp is colourless and the hard skin on the round medium-sized berries is intensely and brightly coloured. The bunch sizes of the Bobal grape are typically medium-large, compact and with an irregular cone shape. The ‘must’ is normally high in colour and tannins and is suitable both for aging and for blending with other varietals - the must also contains higher than average quantities of resveratrol.
The region of Utiel-Requena, located 80km from the Mediterranean coast, at a height of between 700 and 950m above sea level has very little rainfall, about 430mm annualy, with long, very cold winters. The Bobal vine protects itself from the frosts by budding late. It also ripens late, this allows it to conserve natural acidity. Being such a vigorous varietal it has to be pruned back severely in order to limit its production.
Bobal is a very difficult grape to grow because the individual grapes mature at different times and can vary greatly in size. It is possible that overripe and unripe grapes are all present on the bunch at the same time. But when it is successful, Bobal produces very complex, elegant wines that are full of character. Wines produced generally described as fragrant on the nose while dark fruit flavours dominate the palate, and being low in alcohol around 11%.