A Visit to Bodega Señorio de Monterruiz: Wine Tourism In D.O. Manchuela.

Outside the Bodega.


When time permits the Vilamarxant Wine Club, or at least disparate parts of it go on a visit. Much has been written about about wine tourism, especially in the last week or so following European Wine Tourism Day last Sunday (11 November).

This visit was a bit of a mystery tour for the participants. Friend and fellow blogger Javier Prats has been telling us about the wines from a small bodega in D.O. Manchuela which also acts as the local restaurant, a museum, has two apartments available for quiet weekends in the countryside, not to mention a farmyard full of animals and fowl ready for the kitchen, ( ducks , geese, peahens, guinea-fowl, free-range chickens, turkeys, rabbits,) and is the access point for the visits to the local mushroom sheds.

110 Year Old Vine on the Patio.

So, with the promise of a good lunch to come we set off to cross the border from Valencia into Castilla La Mancha, over the Cabriel river and the spectacular gorge and dam, onto the flatlands of Quijote fame and into the small village of  Casas de  Santa Cruz. Here huddled up against the church of San Pedro sits an unassuming building on a corner, a veritable `tardis´ as it turns out!

The house itself dates back to 1730 and today is run by Paco and Feli Monteagudo Ruiz, brother and sister, both resposible for what they describe as `agroturismo´. They have carefully restored the property retaining old furniture and artefacts from farming and cooking as well as modernising to make the accomodation more comfortable.

The `Manchuela Conquense´is not a comarca I have visited before but its traditions include the matanza, ( annual family pig slaughter ) including the use of every part of the animal to provide food except the squeak.

Our visit began with a warm welcome from Feli before she showed us the farmyard with its collection of healthy ingredients….sorry, variety of birds etc! Especially good looking were a pair of turkeys. A goose honked and chased us round gently and the collection of elegant cockerels preened themselves.

Turkeys Looking Forward to Xmas!

While we waited for the last members of the group to arrive we were walked out of the village to see the mushroom sheds, filled with bags of straw impregnated with manure  and spores each tunnel of which produces around 1000 kilos of goodies every week. The sheds are ventilated and where necessary the air is moistened with water-spray.

Back out in the fresh air you could appreciate the views across the plains, good for walking and bird-watching which attracts visitors to the apartments.

These two separate flats, formerly family accomodation. With nearly 3000m2 of room, enough for 9 people, the 4 double bedrooms, kitchens, bread-oven and barbecue with terrace and more importantly wood burners for colder winter nights, provide a cosy centre for a long weekend. Not that there is any need to cook yourself as we were to discover later!

With the whole group assembled we embarked on a visit to the small bodega with its limited production. Here Paco showed us the traditional glazed terracotta tinajas which he still uses for fermentation, each a different size, and the stainless steel deposits in which the wine settles before bottling. Paco strongly believes in natural organic products and the wines have no chemicals used during their elaboration,using only limited sulphur at the bottling stage. For all their tradition they have modern lables, one of which is designed by Javi!ç

In the Mushroom Shed.

The wines were to be tasted with lunch which Feli had been preparing in the kitchen whilst we walked up an appetite in the mushroom sheds! So following a quick look round the apartments we settled into the museum, the downstairs room of which doubles up as the restaurant. Our table was laid for 13, and the down the centre were laid out plates of fresh home-grown tomatos with mild pickled onions, cortezas of pork ( scratchings) fresh baked bread with patés each dressed with the gelées  that are made from  the Airen and Bobal grape. These gelées  are traditionally used with  paté and cheeses and were excellent. They can be purchased at the bodega.  These were followed by plates of mushrooms, grilled with garlic, parsley, oil and jamon cubes. This was the prelude to the two main plates. The first was a traditional gazpacho manchego, a la senyoret, which means the meats were poached before stripping and shredding and the tortas added to soak up the juices. In this case the dish had been made with free range chicken, rabbit, hare and pigeon and subtly flavoured with spices, ( clove and cinnamon are traditional).

Tinajas in the Bodega.

The second dish was  an arroz made with free range chicken and decorated with red peppers. There were oyster mushrooms, cooked on the barbecue over vine-cuttings which provided a smoky but wonderful flavour.

The bodega makes four wines commercially, the first of which is a white from Airen, the most widely planted grape in Castilla La Mancha. This is old gold in colour, clean , bright and at 11.5% ABV it has a nose with white flowers, almost perfumed. In the mouth it is fresh, fruity and flowery with a good finish. Very easy to drink. We also tasted the 2012 from deposit, as yet unfiltered which had a lot of banana on the nose and shows excellent promise.

First of the reds is a bobal, also widely grown in the manchuela. This is maceración carbonica and is 2011, nearly 15% ABV. A deep cherry red, on the nose it is packed with fruit and in the mouth a very satisfying, full bodied, fresh fruity wine, again easy to drink with a long round, elegant finish.

Second of the reds is the Bobal Joven 2010 and is 13.5%ABV This has a little less colour, the extra years age giving it more elegance and this is a wine which needs food to show at its best. Perfect with the gazpacho, it is full, with a long finish.

Gazpacho Manchego.

Finally the Monterruiz, Vino Tinto, is a blend of Cencibel, Bobal and Monastrell. The driest of the three it is also the most elegant and with its exhortation to fill your glass rather than reading the back-lable no further invitation was needed to enjoy it! ( 14.2%ABV).

The quality of the food, perfect matches for the wines, each dish home made made with perfect ingredients  was a lovely way to round off the visit and showed why the holiday apartments should be full! The final course, puddings,  were a flan casero and fresh fruit both of which were accompanied by a non-commercially made dulce de bobal.

Wine tourism is about exciting the senses, education and leisure for the participant. Anyone wanting a different relaxing day out or a long weekend based in a location dedicated to satisfying all the senses and all of these elements could do little better than beat a path to this bodega to enjoy some quality time in Paco and Feli´s tender care!



In the Accomodation.

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