First Published in Costa News Group, May 2012

BODEGAS MONTEREBRO

DO JUMILLA

Regrettably, I don’t tend to receive much wine from Denominación de Origen Jumilla. So I was delighted when a case of white and red wines found their way to my door recently.

DO Jumilla, like many DOs of Spain, reinvented itself, slowly changing from the old predominately bulk wine producing area for which it had a reasonable name throughout Europe as a supplier of high alcohol, deeply coloured wine, used perhaps unscrupulously to bulk up wines from countries with a less favourable climate, to a fine wine producer in its own right.

The change, originally gradual, but wholly fast-track in the last ten years, has brought about some of the finest wines produced in South East Spain. Witness if you will, (well never mind witness, taste it!), El Nido, from Bodegas El Nido (Bodegas Juan Gil) which sells for about 150€ per bottle! And it’s clear that DO Jumilla is now well and truly established on Spain’s map of quality wine producing areas.

However, thankfully, not all wines produced are as stratospherically priced. Most, of course, have managed several steps upwards on the quality ladder, but have kept their prices down.

Bodegas Monterebro is a new bodega, in fact a wine producer whose existence came about as a natural consequence of the parent company’s dealings in the retail wine trade. If we are successfully selling other people’s wines, why don’t we make some of our own and market that too?

Currently, the Monterebro portfolio of just three wines, a white and two reds, is only available though the sister company, Murcia Wine Club (details at the foot of this article). But I expect this to change as distributors start to receive sample bottles and realise the very good quality/price ratio. You can expect to see these wines first on restaurant wine lists and then in the supermarkets and shops – provided the as yet limited production can keep up!

Monterebro Blanco 2011 (Commended International Wine Chalenge, IWC) is a white wine made with Malvasia and a telling 15% or so of Moscatel. Telling, as it is this variety that for me the wine the aromatic edge that it needs. White flowers, raisons and citrus notes make this aromatic wine an ideal refreshing aperitif as well as enabling it to accompany so of the spicy dishes of South East Asian cuisine. Clean and fresh.

There are two reds: Joven (young) and Barrica. Both are made with the local grape variety Monastrell, of which regular readers will have heard many times as it is a favourite of mine, producing, as it does, deeply coloured and flavoured red wines, often of distinction.

The difference between the two of course is oak and vineyard and grape selection. The Joven has seen no oak but the Monterebro Barrica (Bronze Medal IWC) 2011 has enjoyed four months in American and French new oak barrels (barricas). It’s a style of wine that is becoming ever more popular here in Spain. Consumers want the primary fruit flavours, for the sheer juiciness of the drink – in this case both light and dark cherries with slight plummy notes too, but they require a little more depth of flavour and a touch of complexity, supplied of cousre by the time spent in wood.

There’s a nice balance between fruit and oak in this wine. The oak is integrated but it’s there and adds the required extra depth without taking over the show. I could see this wine being quite a hit at BBQs over the summer where it will be a lovely, tasty and refreshing red wine served very slightly chilled.

The Monterebro Joven 2011(Commended IWC) wine is also made with Monastrell. It’s light quite fruit driven with not a trace of harshness. Grapes from the older vines are used to make the Barrica so it follows that this young wine would use the younger grapes.

The vineyards from which the Monterebro grapes are harvested are at an altitude of between 700 – 740 metres above sea level which affords cool night time temperatures which helps with acidity. The bunches of grapes mature slowly and are harvested when they are small and concentrated.

Chalky, sandy soils ensure that the roots have to search for nutrients and the small rocks and stones on the surface and slightly beneath help to hold some moisture from the limited rainfall as well as retaining some of the warmth of the sun to help during the initial growing period when freezing temperatures can be encountered.

All three wines, including the white, will respond well to being opened an hour or more before serving and all three can be served chilled – so some super summer sipping in store!

For supplies of these wines go to: www.murciawineclub.com

Contact Colin: colin@colinharknessonwine.com and through his unique wine services website: www.colinharknessonwine.com

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