This is the second article I’ve written recently about bodegas in DO Jumilla – and I’ll be writing another soon.
So, does this mean I’m biased towards this sun-scorched wine-making zone of southern Spain?
Well, on the one hand, no. I’m not biased to Jumilla, at the expense of other wine-making areas of the Iberian Peninsular. However, on the other hand, yes I am biased. As biased as I am to any area of wine production that consistently turns out really, really good wines!
One of the wineries at the core of this consistent quality is Bodegas Luzón, several of whose very impressive portfolio of wines I’ve recently had the great pleasure of tasting. That’s pleasure with a capital P! Although I’ll be going into some detail about each of the wines I’ve tried, a general, ‘fits all’ comment would be that their wines are fruit orientated, rich, silk-smooth and hugely enjoyable. Now that’s a good start in anyone’s language!
The bodega is part of a group, as indeed are several bodegas these days, but it seems that their masters are content with encouraging them to carry on doing what they’ve been doing so well. If it aint bust, don’t fix it!
Firstly, the design team have done an excellent job. The bottles all look the part – they speak of good quality wine before you’ve even pulled a cork. And the labelling is cutting edge – from, ‘it does what it says on the bottle’, through idiosyncrasy, to classy art!
Secondly, the commercial team has the pricing right too. I’ve tasted Luzón wines from entry level to flagship and they’ve all been very fairly priced (indeed, but don’t tell them, a couple of their top wines would, I’m sure, command a heftier price were they produced in one of the more famous DOs!).
And the wine-making team? Well, there’s nothing wrong there either!
It’s not often that I write Cork Talk with a glass of one of the wines under review, close to hand – but I’m making an exception today. It’s a lovely, hot day – lunchtime on my shaded terrace and a well chilled Luzón white is just what the Doctor ordered (I’m not long out of hospital as I write – though it is a slight exaggeration of the truth to say that it was the Doctor who ordered – it was more the Physio!).
Luzón Blanco 2014 is made with Macabeo and Airén – yes, that variety again, one to which I’ve referred a few times recently, and one which, when treated correctly, can give a lie to the grape previously known as characterless! I like Macabeo, in all its forms – it usually has a green apple tinge, often in terms of the colour of the wine, but also in its aroma and taste profile and it blends very nicely here with Airén.
To add depth of flavour and some added personality the wine has been partially fermented in new French oak with its lees to accompany it for nearly a couple of months. I do believe I’ll pour myself another! 6€.
Alma de Luzón, the Soul of Luzón, is the flagship wine and understandably so, as it speaks of the soil in which its elderly Cabernet Sauvignon, Monastrell and Syrah vines have been growing, as well as the bodega’s philosophy. The grapes were harvested by hand in small baskets and transported with care to the bodega where they were chilled before maceration and separate fermentation.
The resulting wines were placed in New French and American oak, but it was only the best barrels which were chosen to make this limited edition wine. In total the wine has benefited from some 22 months in barrica, but whilst this has added some flavour of course, it’s the richness, you might even say, opulence, of the fruit that you taste, and indeed, feel, on the palate.
On the nose there’s some sweet cedar and vanilla with a little coconut and coffee, though it’s the dark blackberry, blackcurrant and picota cherries that you’ll first encounter, a fruit compote that will remain with you from first hit, through the mid-palate and onto the long finish. It’s rich, yes, and at 15% abv, you may think, before tasting, that it’s a bit of a bruiser – but no, this wine is so elegant too!
At 40€ it is, for most of us anyway, a special occasion wine (think Christmas this year and/or the next two years – the wine I tasted was 2009 and drinking perfectly, yet with time on its side too), but real value for money!
Which brings me onto the idiosyncratically labelled, hugely pleasurable Portú – a wine that retails for just over 20€, so still on the expensive side, I agree, but which really should be priced at least in the 30€+ range!
A modern label to go perfectly with a wine made in the modern style, whose roots are also in the past. It’s been made with Monastrell and Cab Sauv grapes whose vines grow at 600 metres above sea level, allowing for cooler temperatures at night, which bring essential fresh acidity to such a full bodied wine.
It’s easy drinking, worryingly so, and yet there is concentration and complexity there too. A structured wine, but non-conformist, with layers of enjoyment. You’ll find some worn leather sofa and coconut on the nose, with understated vanilla, but again with super dark, brambly fruits to the fore, with a noted black plum aroma and flavour. Long lasting and impossible not to admire!
I’d also place Altos de Luzón in the same category re its undervalued price-tag – at about 20€, it really is a steal – perhaps one for you to enjoy for that special occasion, without having to pay twice as much!
Into the fray (though there’s nothing inharmonious about this wine) they’ve pitched Tempranillo, now Spain’s most grown grape, and of course practically synonymous with Spanish wine in general. Adding a slightly lighter soft red fruit Tempranillo nuance to the dark blueberry, plum and blackberry of the Monastrell and Cabernet, it’s rich and powerful, though again, elegant, as well.
We enjoyed this wine immensely with a pork dish, and I’m sure that it would suit other meats, darker still, perfectly well too. On the nose there is also a slight herbaceous note, with bay leaf and thyme being slightly more powerful than the trace of rosemary that you’ll also find, if you look deeply enough, along with a more pronounced, for me at least, earthy minerality.
Finally, as space is running out – a quick nod towards Luzón Crianza as well as the much more moderately priced Luzón Roble, which I found locally for the bargain price of under 5€! Both wines are most enjoyable!
Contact Colin; firstname.lastname@example.org and via www.colinharknessonwine.com where you’ll be able to see his forthcoming wine events and where you can also subscribe to his newsletters. Plus you can follow Colin on Twitter @colinonwine for all the latest Spanish wine news!