In the continuing saga of the Adventures of the #OleWinos, who are visiting the wineries of the luxury wine group MG Wines Group, we meandered around southern Spain to the DO of Bullas. The Bullas DO is located in Murcia, and is known in particular for it’s young red and rose wines from the local Monastrell grape. This time, we are headed to Bodegas Lavia, in the DO of Bullas. This area has been producing wine since at least the 13th century, when he Christians invaded and pushed the Moors out. The modern wine industry wasn’t developed, however, until the 1980s, when the bulk wine industry was supplanted by modern equipment and smaller winery investors. In 1994, it officially became a Denominacian de Origin.With MG Wines’ focus on wineries that share a philosophy of coaxing the essence of the grape out, Lavia fits this culture perfectly with it’s dedication to the finer points of Syrah and Monastrell. Bodegas Lavia was founded in 2003, when a a like minded group of wine lovers and winemakers became enamored of the possibility of creating a winery that produced wines from organically grown grapes, crafted in to wines with the maximum expression of the grape. Here at Lavia, everything has a purpose and is done with great care and consideration – from the gravity flow winery, to the focus on Syrah and Monastrell, the wines are expressive and clear beacons of the Bullas DO. Located in Venta del Pino, Bodegas Lavia is at approximately 800 meters above sea level. With Monastrell vines averaging 40 years old or more, younger Syrah plantings are intermingled, giving Lavia it’s distinct flavor profile. The use of native yeast further adds tot he overall terroir of the wines, and it’s slant towards lower tannin, elegant, and fresh Monastrell-Syrah based blends. With 2,500 hectares planted to 80% Monasrell, a bit of Tempranillo, a bit of white, and the rest Syrah, the wines are an icon of the very small Bullas DO. With his eye on a more Burgundian expression of the grape, winemaker Sebastien Boudon (who also makes the wines of Bodegas Sierra Salinas) strives to make fresh and elegant wines, in a different style from Sierra Salinas. By using only 500 liter barrels instead of the standard 225 liters, oak is a very light hand and is primarily a storage vessel versus a flavoring component. Bodegas Lavia’s wines are all elegant and complex, and very different than Sierra Salinas even though the primary grape used in both houses is Monasrell. 2010 Lavia is 80% Monastrell, 20% Syrah. The rocky soil produces fruit with thinner skins, helping to create a lighter colored wine with a more translucent color. Flavors of rich red fruit, cherry and raspberry burst out of the glass, followed by floral notes, smoke and plum. This fresh and light style of Monastrell show a bright acidity on the finish, with a touch of pink peppercorn. 2006 Lavia + – this 100% Monastrell gem is a deep brick color, primarily due […]
Bodegas Sierra Salinas was founded in the year 2000, by the longtime viticultural family Castano. Here, old vineyards were revitalized, in this corner of southern Spain tucked between Alicante and Murcia. Sierra Salinas is committed to making artistically expressive Monastrell, the classic, dark grape of this region that is bound to tradition and culture. Castano however, is dedicated to mixing old with new, and has created a modern wonder of a winery, in this classic culture of winemaking. In 2013, when MG Wines Group acquired the property, there were already far ahead of the game. The vineyards of Sierra Salinas are located in the mountainout region of the same name, in the town of Villena, which is in the inland area of teh Alicante DO. Here, with the diverse altitude that only mountain regions can bring, along with the dry, almost desert like landscape, there are a large number of microclimates playing with grape growing. With it’s dusty lunar landscape, and high mesa and plateaus, one might think they had been transported to the Arizona desert. In fact, this region is well known as an area where Spaghetti Westerns were filmed, with the Arizona like landscape, cold winters, and hot hot summers. And yet, with the Meddeterrean so nearby, the climate can be Continental and Medeterranean, with a large diurinal swing helping to keep acids high and sguars in balance. The soils of the region are an interesting factor as well, with large, loose stones, Caliza, and limestone all impacting the terroir. The 30-60 centimeters of loosly packed topsoil is high in iron content, giving it it’s distinct red color. Winemaker Sebastien Boudon, French by birth and Spanish by passion, emigrated to the region because he saw new horizons in winemaking. The state of the art winery features a gravity flow winery, to avoid unneccesary pumping, and small tanks for batch vinification to exact measures. With 70% of the property planted to Monastrell, Sierra Salinas specializes in this variety. Another 20% if planted to the local Alicante Bouschet (known locally as Garnacha Tintorero). This place is history ina glass, with the oldest vines being 70 years old, and the newest babies only 15. These ancient vines have rootsystems so deep, that they penetrate the limestone layer, some 15-20 feet thick! Sierra Salinas specializes in organically grown wines that are treated with care; from hand harvesting, to custom fermentation tanks featuring adjustable, self sealing lids – everything is carefully thought out and designed. The wines we tasted on this day clearly showed this passion for the region and for Monastrell, as they were each different expressions of the same, delicious grape with slight variations. 2012 MO – Monastrell 35 year old Monastrell, blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, and Garnacha Tintarero, with a hint of Syrah. Dark purple, with strong spice notes sprinkled on top of dark cherry, ripe plum, blackberry, and tobacco. Chewy and dense with blue fruit and cigar box. Mo is an excellent choice […]
It’s hard to believe, but in three short days, I will be on a plane, headed to Spain, where maybe it will rain. I am excited to be returned to one of my favorite places to explore, and to reach out to new areas of wine production and geography. On this adventure, I will exploring three wine producing regions in Spain, to experience some world class wines, hospitality, and food. First up, Bullas, a DO in the wine region of Murcia, which is in the southeaster corner of Spain. This southern gem kisses the Mediterranean sea, and the town itself is an ancient one with evidence of Roman occupation, including wine production dating from that time. Now, it is known for it’s bold and powerful Monastrell (Mouvedre) based red wines. In Bullas, we will visit Sierra Salinas, and Bodegas Lavina, soaking up the delicious Monastrell and jamon as as explore the sustainable agriculture and stewardshp of the region. After our southern adventure, it’s off to the norther DO of Bierzo, located in the northwest corner of Spain. Here, we will experience Mencia, Alicante Bouchet, and a smattering of white wines at Tilenus Winery. Here, it’s xpereincing the hearty chickpea stew of the northern part of Spain to keep us warm and ready to go. A short but sweet whirlwind through Spain, and then i’m off to France on vacation for a week! Wish me luck and delicious wine, and check for updates from the road. There will be plenty of pictures of jamon Iberico as I plan to eat my weight in Pata Negra, as well as delicious tapas, and other delights. France will include a trip to the Champagne region, where I will taste the stars in a glass, and gain a smile ear to ear. ¡Salud!