DO YECLA’S 7th ANNNUAL WINE COMPETITION
YOUR CORRESPONDENT INVITED FOR 2nd CONSECUTIVE YEAR!
I was delighted to be invited, for the second year running, to be a member of the Judges Panel for the 7th Certamen de los Vinos de DO Yecla, held recently in the underground professional tasting room of DO Yecla’s Consejo Regulador’s offices, located, somewhat incongruously, in a modern industrial estate in the ancient town of Yecla, Murcia.
The eleven-strong panel consisted of professionals in the Spanish wine world – writers, sommeliers, winemakers, neighbouring DO officials and one foreigner! So an honour for the Costa News Group, and for me, of course!
Nothing is left to chance at the annual wine competition of DO Yecla. During the days before the event the wines (with several bottles of each wine, in case there is a defect in one of the bottles) are placed in foil to prevent recognition and then locked in wine chillers according to their temperature and humidity requirements. Early, on the morning of the event DO Yecla Consejo Regulador officials open the wines giving each an appropriate time to breathe.
The judges are led into the room where they are supervised throughout the tasting with talking only allowed when scoring papers for each category have been collected and locked in a safe until the counting takes place later. Wines, which are served at the correct temperatures, are poured by professional waiters who have been given instructions on how much wine to pour, and who tell you the wine’s number and its category on each pour.
We tasted fifty-four wines and I could tell from the off that this year’s competition was going to be even better than the preceding year, which had been of a high standard. As the judging continued over a four hour period, those initial thoughts were confirmed as a succession of aromatic and flavoursome wines were tasted, assessed and, certainly in my case, awarded good scores.
Scoring categories were: the appearance of the wines; their aromas; and their taste. Each category was subdivided: Appearance – colour and how clean; Aroma – openness, intensity and quality; Taste – intensity, openness, quality, length. Scores related to Excellent; Very Good; Good; Correct; and Insufficient!
Each judge was assigned a number, we had to sign each paper which also had to be signed by the Director of the Tasting, and the papers were collected and collated by another DO Yecla official. This is a serious business!
I sometimes find that young reds with no time in oak can be a touch short on delivery. Sometimes their perfume can promise, but they come up short on the palate. Conversely, sometimes an undistinguished nose can surprise the taster by giving more than expected on the palate. However, the combination can occasionally be left wanting, for me, when it comes to young reds.
This time it wasn’t the case, and after some enjoyable whites and rosados (none were given Gold subsequently though), the standard took a further jump in the quality and pleasure stakes. It was fascinating to learn later that there was a clean sweep of Bronze, Silver and Gold in this category – from Bodegas Castaño, who export 95% of their wines, and most of the 5% left is bought by we extranjeros!
I liked the whites but felt that there wasn’t an outright wine deserving gold – though I’d be interested to know how close to Gold was Bodegas La Purísima’s Estio 100% Macabeo. They won the Bronze too, with their Purísima Blanco 2013. And they Bronzed in the Rosé category, with the first place, silver again, going to Bodegas Barahonda, with their eponymous Rosado.
The category, reds with some limited oak ageing (that’s semi-crianza or roble wines) also didn’t have an outright Gold winner – however, the equal Silver award went to Nymphina 2012,from Bodegas Castaño and Valcorso Monastrell from Bodegas La Purísima. Bronze was taken by Valcorso Syrah from the latter bodega.
All the wines in this category had an appealing oak/fruit/red wine fragrance, with the above being those that demonstrated the style best.
The category, Reds with oak ageing up to the 2011 vintage, is probably the category most eagerly awaited in this ‘big’ wine orientated DO – and as expected there were some real crackers!
The Gold was won by a fascinating red from Bodegas Barahonda – Wine and Song 2010, whose crianza was accompanied by music played softly over speakers in the cellar! Not only an interesting concept, but a super wine! Monastrell, Petit Verdot and Cabernet make up the blend – and it’s lovely!
Silver went to Casa de la Cera 2011, one of a small group of new wines from the Castaño portfolio and one that is attracting lots of praise – it can’t have been short of the points total of the above! Bronze went to Finca Rosal 2011from Bodegas La Purisima – another super wine to run the others close!
The final category – ‘dessert reds’ is a wine style that is becoming synonymous with DO Yecla. There are excellent wines of this type being made here. It was very, very close: Gold – Enesencia 2011 Bodegas La Purisima; Silver – Castaño Monastrell Dulce; and Bronze – Bellum El Remate from bodegas Barahonda. All these wine are highly recommended as dessert wines, but also wine to go splendidly with cheese, particularly mature and blues cheeses.