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 […]
Last month, I was among a small group of bloggers invited to visit some special regions in Spain by the luxury wine group MG Wines Group. MG Wines focuses on wines of distinction from various regions in Spain, and this fam trip was all about the unique, the sublime, and the special wines that MG owns. From the far southern deserts of Bullas, and Jumilla, to the cold, wet north Bierzo, we visited three wineries that were tied together by their dedication to sustainable agriculture, wine making techniques and culture, and yet very different in style and taste. I love Spain; each time, I come away more enamored than I was before. I was excited to be included in this small group of wine writers, not only because they were all good friends and people whom I consider talented writers, but also because it was my first time experiencing Jumilla, Bullas, Alicante, and Bierzo. We began our trip in the southern Costa Blanca city of Alicante. More well known for it’s beaches, seafood, and sun seeking Brits than it’s wine, Alicante is a bustling town newly connected to Madrid with a high speed rain link that makes travel a breeze. Nearby, there are several wine producing regions that focus on Monastrell (Mouvedre) and Alicante Bouchet (known as Garnacha Tintarero here), and are delicious alternatives to the more widely known Rioja. As you might have guessed, Alicante gives it’s name to Alicante Bouschet, the red skinned, red fleshed grape that was so popular in Italian field blends in California’s wine history. BUt this wine is so unique that you pre-concieved notions will go out the window. Alicante is it’s on DO, or Spanish Demoninacion de Origen, and is currently in ti’s 75th year as a DO, even though winemaking traditions can be traced back to the Roman times. Here, Monastrell and Alicante are king among the bold, dark red wines that are growing in popularity and elegance. After settling in to our hotel in Alicante, the intreped Ole Winos cast out for a tapas crawl on the waterfront. While it was still late winter / early spring, we bundled up and enjoyed some local wine, cava and delicious eats before our adventure began in earnest the next day in Jumilla, home of Bodegas Sierra Salinas. Stay tuned for more on that one of kind experience!