The greatest lesson Félix Martínez Roda learnt from his father, Francisco Martínez Bermell, was that ‘there are no secrets, there’s simply the need to love wine.’ This remains the main principle guiding him at the helm of the family’s estate, as the guardian of a unique legacy: an unfailing commitment to the region of Utiel-Requena and to Bobal. Vera de Estena’s library cellar has some of the oldest examples of the region’s flagship variety, proving its potential to produce age-worthy wines, with staying power and enduring finesse. The legacy continues.
A winery – and a family – is born
With Europe in deep social, economic and political turmoil, plunged deep in World War II, Francisco Martínez Bermell settled in Utiel to take the helm of his family’s production winery, Hijos de Pons Hermanos. With him he brought a strong connection with his family’s wine lineage and a deep hope in better days to come. And so they did.
Soon after establishing himself in Requena, Francisco met his wife-to-be; together they started their own project. Having developed a close friendship with Don Pascual Carrión, then the director of the progressive Oenologic Station of Requena, the couple delved deeper into the history and terroir of the region, gaining invaluable technical knowledge and an understanding of how this land could, worked properly, yield the best grapes to produce world-class wines. The culmination of this process would be the release of Vera de Estenas’ first bottled wines in the 1980s, when the family was already settled at Casa Don Ángel – still the company’s operational and spiritual headquarters today.
By then, Francisco was already being helped by his older sons in the stewardship of the family’s winery. It would be the youngest, however, to fully take over from his father and lead Vera de Estenas into the 21st century. Today, Félix Martínez Roda – alongside his nephew Eduardo – is the guardian of this incredible entrepreneurial, viticulture and winemaking legacy.
Clean cellar, healthy grapes, wood…
‘Clean cellar, healthy grapes, wood…’ – the elements that shape the philosophy of Vera de Estenas, as defined by Francisco, are the fundamental, simple components that draw a direct connection between the vineyard and the glass. This explains the strong, yet elegant, character of the estate’s wines, imbued with an unpretentious classicism – these are wines that transcend fashions and the test of time. They are authentic, age-worthy expressions of the terroir, the varieties and of the people whose lives have been intertwined with them from birth.
The story of Vera de Estenas, as the character of its wines, is a thread of memories and emotions – a narrative of a personal connection to the land of Utiel-Requena. Each bottle still evokes the afternoon when its founder was taken by his grandmother Filomena to the family winery in El Grao, the small seaside village where his great grandfather Don Pedro Pons had strategically built it close to the port. Then a small boy, Francisco was overwhelmed with wonder at the sight of the big vats, spiralling staircases and imposing oak vessels. He would never forget the complex aroma that filled the winery – cleanliness, healthy graped, seasoned wood,.. – a memory that accompanied and inspired him until his last days. The same memory that guides Félix and Eduardo today.
‘There are no secrets, there’s simply the need to love wine.’
Three Vera de Estenas wines to know:
Tasted and reviewed by the Decanter team
La Tardana de Estenas, 2022
Alc 11.5%; 100% Tardana
Aged in amphorae, this is a lively wine with green apple, pear peel and lime zest flavours lifted by a bright acidity. A subtle salinity adds a savoury undertone. There’s a delicious tail of stone fruit – peach, nectarine and apricot – with a refreshing zesty grip.
El Bobal de Estenas, 2021
Alc 13%; 100% Bobal
Bright yet earthy, this wine balances ripe red fruit with savoury intensity. A great value, and great quality everyday wine. with purity, freshness, and a robust but elegant structure. The tannins are pleasantly rustic, with an affirmative grip, with cranberry and cognac-infused cherries balancing with sweetness and softness.
Casa Don Ángel – Estenas Bobal, 2019
Alc 15%; 100% Bobal
Having aged for 15 months in old French oak barriques, there’s an elegant, savoury complexity to this wine. Underpinned by fresh, fine-grained tannins, lifted by good acidity. Sophisticated, fragrant lining with floral and herbal nuances. The alcohol is extremely well integrated, as is the oak. Already showing a beautiful, elegant development but also a great potential ahead.