Bodegas Carreño, DO Bullas




I’m approaching the end of my discourse on the wines of DO Bullas. It’s been both tasty and interesting and I hope I’ve done a little to publicise this small area of production which is often overshadowed by other DOs in the South East of Spain, but which is deserving of attention too.


Bodegas Carreño was founded in 1930 by the Carreño family and is located in the same, though somewhat modernised, wine cellars that were once home to the local wine of the Kingdom of Murcia in the 18th Century.


Traditional methods, allied to modern thinking and some investment in stainless steel have upped the ante regarding quality. Wines are made with Monastrell – a variety sometimes overlooked on the international scene, but for me, a grape which should be considered one of the noble varieties of Spain.


There are several ranges of wine produced by this family run bodega which owns its own vineyards but also buys grapes from a number of local growers with whom a mutually respectful relationship has developed over decades of co-operative working. Carreño wines make boxed wine, wine in large 5 litre plastic bottles, in traditional garrafas, screwtops and a bottled young entry level wine, Puntarrón.


For their flagship wines Bodegas Carreño use both American and French oak barrels to add some flavour to the finished product but also depth and complexity. There’s a limited production and a relatively small range of quality wines produced, but the byword here his richness! When a Bodegas Carreño wine hits the mouth it fills it!


Viña Azeniche Roble has a supporting cast of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah as back-up to the Monastrell (50%) which figures in all their red wines. It depends on the azeniche bodegas carreñoyear as to how much time this wine spends in French and American oak, and then in bottle, before it is released on the market. This is encouraging as each harvest presents different levels of ripeness, sugar content, colour, tannin etc, so wine-makers need to adapt their blends and methods of production according the grapes picked [by hand for their top wines] each year.


In the glass the wine is clean and brilliant, suggesting pleasures to come. And this is not false promise. There’s a meatiness to the wine integrated within the intense fruit delivery. Look for mature and rich red fruits, mostly dark hedgerow but with some red currant too. A slight earthy minerality finishes the mouthful and it has s good length too, with the fruit staying with you for quite a while.


Viña Azeniche is the second wine in this range – it’s a younger wine and is made with Monastrell only. Again it’s very fruit driven and fills the mouth with its richness. With a finish a little shorter than the Roble it’s a wine to enjoy with food, sure, but also just to drink with friends and savour the intense Monastrell pulum/damson and dark cherry fruit.


It’s probably Marmallejo Crianza that holds the flag for this bodega which is developing an MARMALLEJO BODEGAS CARREÑOinternational market as well as buoyant sales in Spain. It’s made with 60% Monastrell and 40% Petit Verdot. Very dark colours with some earthy mineral notes emanating amidst the damson fruit.


I tasted the 2010 Marmallejo which I really enjoyed. Its 12 months in French and American oak have added depth and complexity as well as some attractive smoky aromas and vanilla toffee flavours. A wine for rich meaty dishes and we thought it excellent with some Manchego Curado as well!

San Isidro



 BULLAS DO LOGO vino-do-murcia-bullas

I taste wines all the time. If it’s not every day it will be thirteen in a fortnight. Unlucky for some? Well, no, I’m happy in my work! Wouldn’t you be?


However it’s not quite that simple – notice that I used the word ‘taste’, not ‘drink’. There’s a big difference. Please don’t misunderstand me – I drink wine too, but only from the second glass onwards. The first glass, which of course is never full (regular readers will know that a wine glass should never be more than a third full) is for tasting.


Wine tasting is of course a major part of wine appreciation and there’s an important technique for tasting. Those readers who’ve attended any of my tastings will have heard me talk about various parts of the technique: the sniff and swirl; vaporising the wine; the olfactory passage; etc.


My first glass of any wine, whether I’m officially tasting, perhaps as a panel member judging, or at home in preparation for a Cork Talk article, or when we are out in a restaurant or at friends’, is always taken seriously. If I’ve tasted the wine before, is it the same as the last vintage, or if it’s the same vintage tasted some months/years later, has it developed in bottle since the last time?


If it’s the first time I’ve tried the wine, what do I detect on the nose and the palate from the first sip? How do those aromas and tastes evolve over the time it takes me to finish the glass? And, if it’s in a restaurant, or perhaps over dinner at home, how different, if at all, is the second glass?


Yes, I can see that I could be a complete nightmare when dining in company! And then when I start to ask others their opinions too – well it may just be too much! And so it is sometimes when Claire and I have dinner!


I’m often waiting impatiently for Claire to comment on the wine I’ve just poured her to accompany (and hopefully improve immeasurably) the meal I’ve just made us! Sometimes her comments just aren’t forthcoming and when probed, the answer comes back that she’s just not in the right mood to dissect the wine – after a hard day she just wants to drink it!


Easy, uncomplicated, pleasant drinking is what a lot of us are after much of the time – and if this applies to you, you may like to try the wines of Bodega San Isidro, DO Bullas.


Although dating from the 19th Century Bodegas San Isidro is now a co-operative, founded in 1950. There are two hundred growers who are member/owners whose holdings total 450 hectares of vineyard. Grapes are therefore sourced from all over the DO Bullas bringing with them the various different characteristics that the consequent variety of vineyard: altitude, aspect to the sun, micro-climate, soil make-up – terroir, impart. All this will impact on the wine, of course, but the Cepas del Zorro (Fox!) is not about close inspection, dissection complexity. Remember we’re talking uncomplicated easy drinking wines here!


The favoured white wine grape variety of Bullas is Macabeo. Known as Viura in other areas of production, La Rioja for example, this variety is one of the triumvirate of traditional grapes that are used to make Cava. Often described as having green apple notes, wines using Macabeo can be quite full, always refreshing with keen, but when handled correctly, no overstated acidity.


Such is Bodega San Isidro Cepas del Zorro Blanco Macabeo 2012. I’m sure that this wine will be available in most of the bars of the area and hotels too as a tasty, uncomplicated white house wine. I enjoyed its freshness as an aperitif but it will also suit green salads and fish dishes, of course.


In the same range their Rosado 2012 is made with Monastrell (to my mind and palate, this is one of the best varieties in Spain) and Garnacha (in fact the most grown variety in the country). The two complement each other – I liked this wine the best of the three samples I was sent.


There’s a typical raspberry nose with a slight red rose petal aroma too. On the palate there are soft red fruits, a lick of acidity and just a slight touch of bitterness on the finish making the wine a good match for paella.


Cepas del Zorro Tinto 2012 is a joven (young) red which is now about a year old. It’s made with Monastrell again, but this time supported by Syrah. It’s light in the mouth with a touch of Syrah spice (I suspect that vineyard supplying these grapes are around 700 – 800 metres above sea level, in other words approaching the highest in the DO).


It’s an easy drinking red wine which still has another year and is one of those wines that needs no discussion – just drink and enjoy!

Bodega Monastrell, DO Bullas




It’s a pleasure, this week, to return to the recently discovered happy wine hunting ground of DO Bullas. Regular readers may remember the two articles I’ve written in recent months about wines and bodegas from this small and relatively little known area of production. My research so far tells me it’s a safe bet to buy wines from DO Bullas – and you can surely start with those of Bodega Monastrell.


Now there may be some understandable confusion here and I hope that it is not to the detriment of the bodega in question, whose wines should not remain relatively undiscovered. Bodega Monastrell seemed to have usurped the name Monastrell, which as you’ll know from reading Cork Talk is the name of the grape variety, favoured in the South East of Spain, and which in France is known as Mourvedre.


Nobody’s complaining though, and as their three wine portfolio is based on Monastrell, two of them exclusively, well why not name their winery after such a noble variety!


I like the minimalist labels, front and back. Also their succinct pamphlet gives only sufficient information, without elaborating with flowery tasting notes and self- praising poetic prose. No, Bodega Monastrell is content to let their wines do the talking.


Established just in 2005 in the Valle del Aceniche area of Bullas where their vineyards are located at between 800 – 900 metres above sea level, the bodega’s stated aim is to provide consumers with easy-drinking pleasurable wines. They succeed, but I feel they are perhaps being a little too modest here!


Yes, the two wines I tasted, their Almudi Monastrell/Tempranillo/Petit Verdot blend 2010 and their monovarietal Chaveo Crianza 2010, both of which have enjoyed some oak ageing, do provide simple enjoyable drinking, but offer more too!


There is rigorous selection which starts in the vineyard with damaged grapes being discarded straight away. They are further scrutinised in the bodega and only the best bunches pass muster. Like so many of the successful bodegas in Spain there is not only the blend of varieties but a harmonious mixture of wine-making technique too. Tradition meets modernity and the result is something to savour.


Organic and environmentally friendly methods are used, though the wines are not, as yet, certified organic. Yields are kept low to add depth to the finished product.


BODEGA MONASTRELL 2Almudi 2010 uses Hungarian and French (Allier) oak for its ageing. It’s drinking perfectly right now with very good fruit, as a consequence of the dark plum Monastrell and the blackberry fruit that can come about from Tempranillo grown at altitude and oak aged. The Petit Verdot gives the wine extra dark, seductive colour with some vegetal notes too.


The mouthfeel is lovely, you know you are in for a good sensation when the wine first hits the palate – and the depth of flavour stays with you until way after you’ve swallowed.


Chaveo Crianza 2010 has had 11 months in new French oak, this subtle contribution isBODEGA MONASTRELL 1 noted in the whole, rather than it being an easily identifiable, almost separate part of the wine, as the added flavour and depth are fully integrated. The vines used for this wine are the oldest in the vineyard. The naturally low yields mean that each grape has an enviable richness and the result is a very enjoyable, fruit driven wine.


There’s a slight pleasant mineral identity too, with some vanilla and tobacco notes and a rich fullness that nevertheless doesn’t hide its elegance.


I’ll be looking out for the wines of Bodega Monastrell and I hope to also find the one that I haven’t yet tried, their Valché!

The Wine Place Wine Club ( Part Two




The Autumn Selection –

Last week’s article told of a new wine club, whose aim is to satisfy our desire for international wines whilst living here in Spain. This week I’ll be telling you about the three impressive, and expressive, wines I’ve tasted from their Autumn Selection. Put simply, I recommend them and therefore the Wine Club!


I love the wide variety of Spanish wines that are so easily obtainable here in Spain and I pity those who live in the UK where the Spanish wines that are easily found are not always representative of the quality that is available here. There is nothing like the variety either!


However, whilst it’s true that we have any number of really good Spanish wines available in all styles here, it’s also true to say that many of us find ourselves missing wines from other countries – of which there is a dearth in Spain. Well seems perfectly placed to help!


As explained last week (still available to read at click Cork Talk) the club offers a carefully selected (following extensive tastings by club founder Mark O’Neill and his team) quarterly twelve bottle case of wines from all over the world. For example, my three were a Champagne, a white from Australia and a Rhône red, though the full case included wines from South Africa, Argentina, Chile and Italy, to name some of the other countries represented.


Champagne Lallier (given 91 points out of 100 in the well respected Wine Spectator publication) is made with 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Champagne, all sourced from Grand Cru vineyards. This is a style of Champagne that I really like – for the black grape Pinot Noir contributes a greater depth to the wine as well as different flavour nuances too.


Champagne lovers can’t fail to be pleased with this wine. It has all the classic brioche, patisserie, yeasty notes and a certain elegance on the palate too. There’s depth of flavour and length of finish making this Champagne just right for celebrations but also for aperitif and starter dining too. Super!


I, and my fellow tasters over a super lunch, were enamoured by the lovely Australian white wine, The Rude Mechanicals Ephemera 2012 – the name itself (plagiarised from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer-Night’s Dream, incidentally!) is a mouthful, and so is the wine, in the very best possible sense!


A blend of the ultra aromatic Viognier and Pinot Gris varieties, the wine is a riot of fruit (apple, pear, apricot) and floral (white flowers and honeysuckle) notes – aromas and flavours! On it’s own it’s a wonderful aperitif but it’s also perfect with light starters, fish, shellfish; and because of an endearing ginger spice note it will be super with Thai and Indonesian cuisine too! We all loved this unusual, eclectic wine – even the label is wild!


The final wine that I tried was a splendid multi-layered Côtes du Rhône Villages. So mellow on the palate and yet rich with depth of flavour, there’s a weighty mouthfeel,  but there’s elegance in abundance too. It’s long lasting and if any of us has doubts about Rhône wines, this will dispel them immediately. There’s nothing harsh here it’s all red wine pleasure.


Les Coteaux 2010 is a blend of Grenache and Syrah which must have been harvested at optimum ripeness. Yes, there’s the spice of Syrah – some black pepper, but it’s all integrated in the delicious berry fruit – blackberry, but also lighter fruit, loganberry and red currant, for example, along with a subtle oak influence that adds to the experience.


I’d gladly drink this wine on its own and with meat orientated food, including chicken and here’s a possibility, with Roast Turkey. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?!


Contact Colin: and through his unique website as well as Twitter @colinonwine


PS Like Sherry and want to taste and learn more? Like to try the high altitude wines of Granada mentioned in Cork Talk? If so, watch this space for details of a great Short Break I’m organising, early Spring 2014! Or e-mail me for details!