We were in his living room sharing a few wines, when he approached with an open bottle of wine with a funny label. The label is very much to my taste because its style is that in decoration is called Minimalist. The literature on the back label was also to my liking, very original, very literary, as expected from the producer. So far everything was good.
Then taste. Well, it was very good. 13.5% abv, again very much to my liking. Little extraction, very good again. Balanced body, no hard tannins, no astringency. As I like a red wine to be (ups, I had not mentioned its color before). So I looked him straight in the eye and very solemnly said: “Fucking good.”
And that’s it.
It is exciting when a friend introduces you to his newborn son, because of the continuity of the human kind. In my case, I am much more excited when a friend presents me with a wine that he has made. And even more excited if the wine is the first one he makes. That thing is very cool, but if it comes from whom it comes from, it does it much more. Not because The Bvscon. Chapter 1. El Lobo vintage 2019 is his first wine and it is also very good. What makes me even happier is that Javier Caravaca is the winemaker.
Javier is one of those jack-of-all-trades men. When we met for the first time, it was because he was and still is a wine distributor in Valencia, Spain. There he runs Vinos Raros, where you can find, uhmm , well, wines made from a different point of view. Javier also writes https://javiercaravaca.com/, a website dedicated to current affairs. Politics, society, things of those that concern us lately in a big way. He also publishes some of these articles in newspapers in his region.
We haven’t finished yet. As a poet, he has also written and published two books: Ellas. Bitches, Witches and Snakes, which contains 17 must-read stories about women, or rather, about the female condition, published in 2020, and Oedipus Without a Sphinx, published in 2018, which consists of 23 stories about human darkness . And now, to finish off the job, he produces a wine. He has told me that he can play pool, but that remains to be seen. Until that time comes, we will talk to him.
Good morning, Javi. A pleasure talking to you and thank you very much for your collaboration. How does a wine salesman write books, publish a website and make his first wine in the 24 hours that he has a day?
Well, very easy: the first eight hours of the day I dedicate myself to eating and working, that is, reading and writing; I put the next eight hours to taste wines, select and make them known, which has been the job of a dealer; and the remaining eight hours to think and design wines as no one has ever thought of before, or at least with a personal perspective that is different from the rest. And, before you insist, the other eight hours are for playing pool, of course.
Which came first: the blank page or the bunch of grapes?
That was a long time ago, it was in adolescence, they both came at the same time. I think I fell in love with a girl, a Viña Tondonia white and a sonnet by Quevedo in the afternoon. Coming to adulthood I began to be seriously interested in literature, to feed myself on verses and Greek philosophy, myths and novels from all over the world, and to drink wines with passion, each time loving them, understanding, without realizing it, by some were so good and others were not. Also at that stage I won my first billiard tournament, by the way. [Laughs]
Why Cencibel (Tempranillo) and why Albacete?
Because of Juan Miguel de la Cruz, no doubt. It did not matter the area or the grape, but the soul. I met Juanmi when I was launching Vinos Raros. He presented me his portfolio and I fell in love with a very simple one that he makes in Villarrobledo, from a small old Cencibel plot. It is a very sweet carbonic maceration, in the sense of tender and kind, as I had never tasted before. Over time, as the idea of El Bvscon matured, I thought of designing wines in collaboration with winemakers that would shake my heart, and I thought it would be a good idea to contribute something where things were already done well. It occurred to me that Juanmi’s wonderful wine could be something bigger, that starting from those precious wickers we could make a high-altitude wine together, because there were details of elaboration that he hadn’t thought of. That is the idea of El Bvscon, a broad project in which, based on the good work of a winegrower, I can bring my perspective on the world of wines and do something more special that he would not have thought of before. This is how Chapter I was born, of a series that I hope will be very fruitful.
Tinajas (clay amphora) of the Master José Gimena instead of oak. Good choice?
I would say very good, and also necessary. In my opinion, the youthfulness of carbonic maceration wines should not be smoothed over with treatments, but pampered, to leave the fruit in its place and protagonist. But it doesn’t hurt either to temper the verve, like the kids, who are handsome and strong, but with an unbridled momentum that should be tamed. The clay is one of the ways to achieve it, refine without much makeup. But the decision was not a divine inspiration, but, as I said, a necessary thing: the plot is in Villarrobledo, The land of centuries-old tinajas. They are the best in the world, those of maestro José Gimena, dean of the order of potters, mentor, by the way, of the famous Juan Padilla.
Where does the title of the wine come?
It is a blend of Quevedo, the beacon that guides me in literature, of his best-known character, the buscón called Don Pablos, and of that mischievous interest on my part that I was talking about earlier, of going looking for vineyards and winemakers with whom can work in tune and light wines with which to make others happy. Ultimately, the inspiration comes from what Pablos did, looking for his life to continue standing one more day. He looked at it from the perspective of survival, I, on the other hand, from pure hedonism, wines to enjoy. In any case, we both seek the same thing, to live better.
Happy with the first galley?
If you mean the label and the literary background, as an imperfect test to see how it looks, I am happy, but it is not such a galley, that Yit conscientiously worked the design to conform to the editorial canons of the Baroque, and it is no longer proof, but finished work. It is also not galley if you refer to the wine metaphorically, for the same reason that Juanmi knew what he was doing, and we only bottled it after overcoming the bad drink of the blind tasting. But yes, very happy, the result is a lot like what I imagined. The truth is that I had a very specific idea in my mind, I knew how I wanted the wine to be and what had to be done to achieve it. Juanmi perfectly knew how to interpret me and the result is very satisfactory. To my surprise, I confess, I was not convinced that it turned out the way I envisioned it. Well yes, that was guaranteed by the viticulturist’s hands, but just like what I had on my head… that was very difficult.
After reviewing Chapter 1, what changes will there be based on this experience?
What the weather says, no more, no less. The idea is firm, the soul of the wine is clear, there will be no more changes than those required by time. I don’t like fake wines, I prefer those that are faithful to the earth and the future of the stars. We will work it with simplicity like the first one and it will come out as God wants. 2020 is in process, it carries the same intention. The alcoholic fermentation is finishing, we will taste the wine during the process and give it the time it asks for. I find the vintage more interesting, slightly less alcoholic, less colored, fresher, with more intense aromas and a more temperate balance. We will find a way to express it as it is.
Chapter 1 published and on sale. What will chapter 2 be about?
I still don’t know, but I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. I only know that it will be with another winegrower. With Juanmi we will continue to work on Chapter I, but I cannot think of anything that can improve the work you do with the rest of his vineyard, he does very well. Also, the spirit of The Bvscon is to go searching.
And will there be more characters in successive installments or will you continue with the Cencibel adventures?
There will surely be more characters. Nothing unites me in particular to any grape or any land. My perspective is not that of a winegrower, rooted in his field and his history, which is wonderful. It is another more prosaic, that of a baby or hopeful who never tires of trying new things. I like to imagine how something that is already authentic and beautiful could be improved. I like light red wines, also those of high expression, and young whites, and even more old ones, and those of biological aging, and with bubbles, and orange, and sweet… It would not end. I promise variety and fun.
Will we see a white chapter?
Yes. Maybe it’s the second chapter. I have some mischief on my hands. Ask me in a few months.
And billiards? Should we play a game to see what happens?
Absolutely. But I know what will happen. You will not dare to publish it.
A great pleasure to have enjoyed your first wine. I’m going to keep drinking and reading your work. Congratulations, Javi.
Photo (C) Israel Pérez @elisraperez