From Ear-rings to Dulces…..The Winemakers from D.O. Jumilla Visit Valencia.


Selection of Wines from Bodegas Salzillo.

Selection of Wines from Bodegas Salzillo.



DO Jumilla, inaugurated in 1966, lays claim to be one of the oldest in Spain and with a longer history of wine-making on the peninsular than any other.

Jumilla lies to the South and West of Alicante Province in the Province of Murcia and is certainly well-known for its red wines from Monastrell although with the exception of Casa de la Ermita you wont find much of it in the shops of Valencia. On the route followed by the Phoenicians and Iberian peoples archeological remains carbon-date grape pips to 3000BC  and ear-rings ( found on male skeletons in local Necropolae ) in the shape of grape bunches denote their warriors were dedicated to vine-growing.

Sitting between the DO´s of Castilla La Mancha and  Valencia the grape varieties are largely similar to those grown here. In whites they grow Airen, Macabeo, Pedro Ximinex, Malvasia, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Moscatel. In reds Garnacha, Monastrell, Garnacha Tintorera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot.

Around seventeen of the 44 bodegas affiliated to the DO were showing their wines last night in the Valencia Palace Hotel and I selected a few to taste, looking forward to finishing on the sweet reds for which the DO has a good reputation.

I started with the traditional  bodega Xenysel, run by the Martínez Verdú family. Here tradition is combined with ecologic practices and the first wine was a Monastrell 2009Vino Joven. At 14%ABV it was showing well, pale strawberry red, medium bodied with good legs. On the nose sweet fruit, strawberry and cherry and in the mouth initially quite jammy, concentrated fruit followed by a long dry finish with afternotes of strawberry fruit. A very easy drinker.

Second wine from this bodega was the Pie Franco Joven 2011. At 14.5% ABV this had more concentrated colour and is a young style wine from old vines. Deeper in colour the legs were long and glycerinous. On the nose it was still a little closed as it was initially in the mouth but the depth is there with powerful mature fruit lurking to emerge in due course!

The third wine was a step up again, Xenysel 12 Meses which as it name suggests has had 12 months crianza, in French and American oak, all new. The grapes are selected by quality from goblet pruned vines and the wine again has a deeper cherry colour with solid long slow legs. On the nose you could immediately differentiate between the oak and the fruit which were perfectly balanced with hints of vanilla and other spices. In the mouth this is a powerful meaty wine but balanced, silky and with a very long finish, mainly of mature red fruits and vanilla.

The bodega has its own website  and blog at as well as an on-line shop. I would be happy to have these wines in the cellar!

Next bodega was Salzillo who were showing a good range and I started with the white Macabeo 12.5%ABV. Hispalis Blanco has a touch of Moscatel in it too. It is a very pale lemon colour clean, bright with a very expressive nose, lots of tropical fruit, peach, apricot, banana and white flowers, acacia. In the mouth the fruit was balanced perfectly with a fresh acidity making it an easy drinking, commercial  wine.

Camelot, Tinto Dulce.

Camelot, Tinto Dulce.

Hispalis Sauvignon Blanc is similarly very pale in colour, clean bright and with good legs. On the nose more white flowers, acacia, gooseberry and tropical fruit, pineapple. In the mouth, crisp, fresh,  easy to drink with a long elderflower finish. Very nice.

We moved on the Zenzate range from the bodega, mono-varietals, and started with the Monastrell. Made from vines with more than 60 years of age, intense cherry red, long legs and on the nose, mature fruit, floral notes, (violet) in the mouth it is expressive, a burst of fruit, meaty, passes across the palate really well and with a long fruity finish. Very nice.

Second wine from this range was the Cabernet Sauvignon with four months in barrica. Youthful, strong deep red colour, very long legs, this had only recently been bottled. On the nose sweet, jammy fruit, mature, meaty ( almost roast beef) and in the mouth meaty, powerful, black fruits, blackberry and spice , clove, long finish. This needs a couple of months more in bottle but I loved it!

We turned to the bodega´s Matius 2008 a pure Monastrell with six months in barrica. From low production vines I was expecting something concentrated. Intense cherry colour, with purple shades. On the nose, mature red and black fruits with spicy notes and in the mouth, deep, concentrated, oak, chocolate, powerful, silky…….lovely!

And then to try the Dulce! Monastrell is capable of producing outstanding deep, sweet red wines with hints of figs, black olives, capers, and Bodegas Salzillo have Camelot! This wine is an intense,  deep, red cherry and on the nose there were very ripe plums, figs, dried grapes, one of those wines you can just sniff…no need to drink…..until you try it! Luscious, this wine is heaven in a glass, figs, sweet overmature mature fruits such as plum, but with sufficient acidity to avoid becoming cloying. Perfect with soft fruits, pate, foie gras and or blue cheeses. Wonderful!

Wines from Luzón.

Wines from Luzón.


Next I turned the three wines Bodegas Luzon were showing. First up was Luzon 2012, a Monastrell/Syrah blend 70-30%. Very nice deep colour, medium bodied cherry red, long legs. On the nose the two varieties stood apart each with their own characteristics showing, cherry, raspberry, fruits of the forest. In the mouth well-balanced, with spiky red fruits, smoke and liquorice. A really nice drinker!

The Luzón Roble 2011, is 100% Monastrell with 14%ABV and 4 months in French and American oak. Deep red with a violet rim, long legs. On the nose red mature fruits, touches of oak, cream, and in the mouth well structured, lively, meaty, spicy but smooth and easy to drink.

Altos de Luzón 2008 is a blend of Monastrell 50% with 25% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo. 12 months oak ageing in French and American oak follows fermentation and the wine is deep purple with a garnet edge, very long legs. On the nose the word is elegant, mature fruit, jam, plums, with spices, vanilla, chocolate. In the mouth a smooth, elegant, complex red, well-balanced and structure, oak, chocolate mature deep plummy fruit swirl across the palate and the ripe tannins and smooth texture make this a real pleasure to drink!

Selection from San Dionisio.

Selection from San Dionisio.

Time to switch and look at a typical Cooperative. Bodegas San Dionisio  were showing a wide range of wines from which  I selected a few for contrast.

The Sauvignon Blanc with which we started was from the Mainetes range. Clean, bright, not much colour and on the nose white flowers, sweet apple and in the mouth minerally . A dry white without much fruit……..And sadly much could be said for the Macabeo, Señorio de Fuentálamo.

The Señorio Fuentálamo Monastrell/Syrah Crianza 2009 had at least a nice cherry red colour and whilst the nose was overoaked, the fruit in the mouth was much better strawberry and vanilla predominating.

The Mainetes Petit Verdot 2010 was quite different. Nice medium to full-bodied, black cherry with long legs on the nose the oak was right…. balsamicos, toasty , cherries, and in the mouth  full-bodied, mature fruit, long finish. A well structured wine.

Finally from this bodega the Selección 2009, a blend of Monastrell, Syrah, and Merlot  also impressed.  Ruby, clean bright, long legs. On the nose mature red fruits, spicy, coffee and chocolate. In the mouth fresh balanced and with a long finish of mature fruit. Smooth!

Unctuous Dulce from Santiago Apostol!

Unctuous Dulce from Santiago Apostol!


Bodegas Santiago Apostol was created by a group of producers in 1950, their first wine emerging in the excellent 1952 vintage. Today  they have around 650 members and 3600 hectares in production. I looked at their top range `Oferente´and started with the white from Airen. The most widely planted white grape in Spain, this wine was pale straw yellow, clean, bright, with medium legs. On the nose white flowers, tropical fruits. In the mouth light, fresh, fruity and easy to drink.

The 2011 Joven Monastrell had an intense purple colour, violet edge with long legs. On the nose cherry fruit, clean, wood fruits, and in the mouth balanced, a little smoky, long finish.

The 2009 Monastrell Crianza was again a step up. With six months crianza and then six months in bottle. Ruby red with terracotta edge, long legs, on the nose red and black fruits, mature, spices and oak and in the mouth full-bodied, smooth passage across the palate, long finish. Elegant!

Oferente Dulce is also a pure Monastrell, from vines with at least thirty years of age and late picked in November. Well developed chestnut colour with terracotta hints. Very long glycerinous legs, brilliant and looks unctuous. On the nose mature dried grapes, dry plums, figs and chocolate. In the mouth spectacular! Balanced, sweet yet the alcohol balances this and the fruit sugars just all come together perfectly….Unctuous yes!!!! Wonderful!

Casa de la Ermita is one of the better known bodegas from the DO but was only founded in 1999. With the palate shot to pieces now there were only two wines left to try……the Dulce Blanco and Dulce Tinto!

The former is from over-ripe white grapes, and is old gold with green tones and long glycerinous legs. On the nose ripe sweet fruit such as peach apricot and pineapple, mango. Orange blossom. In the mouth light , fresh, fruity, sweet yes but not cloying, rich , unctuous, long finish. This would be great with tarte tatin and/or duck or goose liver.

The red is pure Monastrell from 60-year-old vines. After fermentation the wine spends three months in oak to round it out. Deep red/purple in colour,  forest fruits predominate  with spicy notes on the nose. In the mouth the fruit presents as jam, meaty, full, well-balanced the sweetness balanced by smooth tannins. Another wonderful example!

Another very enjoyable tasting with the opportunity to sample some different styles of wine and grape varieties. Monastrell and particularly the dulces stood out!

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