I first tasted a Las Reñas wine several years ago when it was given to me by a friend who said that they hadn’t tried it, but believed it to be ‘quite a good one’. Las Reñas is probably the best known range of wines from Bodegas Del Rosario, one of the oldest bodegas within, and therefore a founder member of, the Denominación de Origen Bullas, in South East Spain.

This back door, tradesmen’s entrance, sort of admission into the world of Bodegas Rosario made a lasting impression on me and, over the years, when I’ve seen a bottle of their wine, I’ve usually bought it. I’ve never been disappointed.


Neither have I been so with any of the raft of wines recently sent by this traditional bodega that also has a modern, professional approach to marketing its wines. When I was first in touch with Marta Cano López, Technical Director for Quality, DO Bullas, discussing how to approach a series of articles about Bullas wines, she kindly contacted the bodegas within the DO to let them know what was about to happen.


Bodegas Rosario didn’t stand on ceremony – they complied of course with Marta’s requests, but in the meantime also contacted me directly with chapter and verse about their wines, their medals etc.


Most refreshing – just like their Las Reñas Macabeo 2012 dry white wine, the first I tasted from the seven sent. Whilst I wouldn’t say it was heaven sent (though I rather like the rhyme) I’d certainly say that it hit the spot perfectly on a hot and sultry evening when all of our spirits needed reviving.


I’m a believer in Macabeo. It doesn’t receive a great deal of attention, generally, and I think this is for two reasons. It’s often used in a blend, and particularly in the case of Cava (it’s one of the three traditional varieties that make Spain’s usually super Sparkling Wine), it can be difficult to discern its individual contribution to the whole.


Also, sad to say, it’s often used as a bit of a cash cow – over-cropped, poorly treated in vineyard and winery, resulting in nothing more than an also-ran wine. (I like the mixed metaphor here – a cow running in a horse race, but it seems I’m in that sort of mood today!)


However, when its yield is restricted, when it’s grown at some altitude and when it’s harvested early to preserve its acidity, whilst also retaining its primary fruit flavours, it really can deliver! Las Reñas Macabeo 2012 is such a wine, delighting us all over a recent dinner party, and proving, consensually, to be the equal of another white wine which came with a far higher pedigree.


Typical Macabeo green apple aromas and flavours but including some more exotic, tropical fruit nuances and as fresh as a sea breeze. Super, inexpensive, lengthy dry white wine!


Bodegas Del Rosario’s Silver Medal winning Las Reñas Rosado 2012 also has a pleasing freshness to it – and some extra body too! If, like many, you crave the freshness that a chilled wine can bring at this time of year, but miss the depth that red wines usually include, then I’d suggest you take some very pleasant time researching Spanish rosados. They have it all, and this wine is up there with the best!


It’s made from South East Spain’s indigenous and naturally, perfectly adapted Monastrell grape variety. Having lived in lived in the South East of Spain for over sixteen years now (yes there have been 16 years of weekly Cork Talks now!) I’ve set down some roots here. It’s home. I rejoice in its successes, am saddened by its occasional failures and am ready to defend it against any lack of recognition. (Blimey, this sounds like a Monarch’s call-to-arms, pre-battle soliloquy – which in fact is quite apt, as the area is known as the ‘Kingdom of Monastrell!).


Anyway, the point is that I was saddened to read, whilst doing my research for the wines of DO Bullas series (of which this is the second article), that for many years DO Bullas et al had to refer to their principal grape variety, Monastrell, by its French name, Mourvèdre, in order to achieve any recognition.


In fact even one of my wine writing heroes (well, ok, in this case, heroine!) Jancis Robinson MW, who edited the Oxford Companion To Wine (admittedly in the now ten years old edition) lists the French name, informing the reader that the Spanish call it Monastrell; and under that name it is simply defined approximately as ‘one of the Spanish names for the variety known in France as Mourvèdre’, erroneously giving the impression, to the uninitiated (i.e. those who don’t read Cork Talk!), that it is a French variety!


Las Reñas Monastrell 2012 is a young red wine. A long, gentle pressing followed by maceration with skins extracts all the aromas and fruit flavours in the finished wine without any astringency. The colour is reminiscent of violets as is the aroma along with hints of loganberry slowly overcome by fuller damson and blackberry notes plus a touch of mountain herbs. A wine to simply enjoy with or without food, and a sure hit with BBQs.


Las Reñas Crianza 2009 Monastrell Shiraz has two further dimensions – an extra variety in the blend plus nine months in American and French oak. I love Spanish Syrah, it’s always so juicy-fruity as it never fails to ripen fully, but when grown at sufficient altitude it also displays some of that spicy black pepper, more common in French Syrahs. When added to the lovely plum, damson fruit of the Monastrell it really works.


It’s quite complex with some depth and good fruit presence throughout with more than a touch of that spice, giving the wine some backbone to its elegance. Long liquorice-laced, fruit driven – another lovely wine.


It was the Las Reñas Selección that I first tried several years ago, so I was keenly anticipating the 2009 vintage, and I was pleased to learn that their flagship elegant, full flavoured, structured, concentrated wine is as good as ever!


The rigorously selected grapes for this wine, Monastrell (80%) and Syrah, come from specific vineyards whose unique micro-climates and aged vines ensure a full bodied, complex and yet graceful, almost intellectual wine. At all stages of production the wine has been handled with kid-gloves – it is moved around the temperature controlled bodega by gravity and not pumping; the barricas used have been new and one year old, 50% 225 litre barrels and 50% 500 litres, French and American.


Following nine months in oak the wine is bottled and then rested for a further six months in perfect conditions in the cellars whose temperature remains a constant 17ºC.


It’s no wonder that this wine is so silkily good. There are intense dark red fruits, damson, black plum and cherry, plus integrated vanilla and cinnamon notes on the nose, with some spice and a bay leaf or two. On the palate you can expect all of the above, with liquorice on a long, triumphant finish!


When left on the vine until November Monastrell is capable of some seriously good red dessert wines – Las Reñas Dulce is a fine example of this very popular style. It’s an alcoholic Ribena sort of flavour with a long, long finish and so good with mature and blue cheese – as well as desserts that include blackberry, plums etc., try it with Summer Pudding!


Finally – Bodegas Del Rosario are also starting to develop an organic production. I enjoyed their gloriously fruity Monastrell young red too!

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