BULLAS DO LOGO vino-do-murcia-bullas



 I’m quite sure that, if you look around the area where you live, perhaps going to your local Tourist Information Office, you’ll find that there’s a Wine Museum somewhere nearby. Spain has been making wine at least since the Phoenicians were here, and probably before that too. When it comes to wine Spain has plenty of previous!

Such a rich and long history should rightly be celebrated and this is the function of the wine museums. El Museo del Vino, Bullas, a modern purpose built, easy access building on the edge of Bullas is just such a museum. It’s fascinating to see how wine making in the area has developed over the centuries.

It’s also fascinating to see how it continues to develop, and how, maybe it needs to put a move on! The diverse and dynamic world of Spanish wine is now a major player on the international scene with exports from some DOs exceeding 90% of total production. Indeed there are plenty of DO Bullas’ wines exported annually. But there’s room for more, and there’s certainly room to expand the national sales – which are, in truth, disappointing.

Regular readers may remember a series of articles I wrote on the bodegas and wines of DO Bullas. There are some excellent 90+ pointers in the various Wine Guides, Peñin for example – but that’s not all. These are, if you like, the brightest stars which come  from a firmament already at a high level. I was very pleasantly surprised by the general quality of the many wines I was sent to taste.

So I was delighted that one of the leading lights of the DO, Bodegas Rosario (of the Las Reñas range of wines), put my name forward to the Museo del Vino as the person who should present in English a wine tasting of DO Bullas wines in the museum, as part of their celebrations for National Museums Day here in Spain.

The tasting was designed as a celebration of both the Wine Museum and its cultural contribution to the area, and of the wines of the region. The tasting was to be delivered in English as part of the town’s cultural exchange programme where different nationalities can mix and enjoy each other’s company and learn about their differing cultures, whilst simultaneously delighting in the area’s favourite product – wine!


 We started with a Macabeo 2013, Cepas del Zorro – an entry level wine that was fresh and dry with a lick of acidity, a slight white flower fragrance and a passing nod to green apple aromas and flavours which are characteristics of this variety – which as many will know has the alias of Viura in some other regions.

This wine was made by Bodega Cooperativa San Isidro, one of the bodegas whose wines I enjoyed some months ago, all of which are in the 80s in terms of Peñin points.

Rosmarinus Organic Rosado from Bodegas Carrascalejo was the next wine – but oh dear, what an opportunity missed by this bodega whose rich red wines I’d tasted months ago. Inexplicably they had sent their 2012 vintage which, having been made from the indigenous and darling variety of the area, Monastrell, as well as Spain’s most planted variety, Garnacha, would probably have been a super fruit dominated, clean and fresh rosado – had it been the latest 2013 vintage, as it should have been.

It wasn’t just me who noticed, on pouring, that the brightness of youthful colour was fading to a slightly brick red colour – not a good sign for rosado at all! Fearing the worst I tasted the wine, before the clients arrived of course, and whilst the wine hadn’t ‘gone’ completely, it was clearly a shadow of its former self. A mix-up in the bodega; or a lack of knowledge; or, perhaps worst of all, a lamentable apathy? I don’t know but we were all disappointed and slightly mystified as to why it had been sent!

I’m afraid that, at first, I wasn’t particularly enamoured by the next wine, either – Mercader Quesada 2012 from Bodegas Mundo Enológico Q-M, another organic wine, and our first red. However, after having had time to breathe in bottle and in glass the wine changed for the better and whilst I wouldn’t say that it was an exemplary red Monastrell from DO Bullas it was fruit driven with a little depth and typical dark plum flavours mixing well with an earthy minerality. I recommend decanting this wine perhaps 30 minutes before serving.

Lorca Shiraz 2011 from Bodegas Rosario is another range of wines from this forward thinking bodega, whose export manager, Mara Martínez, had told me that unfortunately she wasn’t able to attend the tasting as she’d be in the USA spreading the good name of DO Bullas wines, having returned not long ago from Japan, where she’d been doing the same!

I love Spanish Shiraz (aka Syrah) – it often has the spicy, black pepper characteristics of French Syrah, but with an extra, sunshine induced richness. Lorca is such a wine – juicy blackberry and stewed plum fruit, with spice, some vanilla, cinnamon and a faint hint of coffee-bean aroma, from the young barricas in which it spent four months.

Lavia 2008, from Bodega Molino y Lagares, has the above Shiraz notes but the addition ofCRUISE BULLAS TOP WINE 1 Monastrell and extra time in oak makes a wholly different wine. The wine was made using a mixture of grapes fermented in stainless steel and others in French oak. The wine therefore has the benefit of fresh vibrancy and depth, of power and elegance. A layered wine, complex, with excellent fruit and a long finish.

Our final wine was from the 2007 vintage – Valché, from Bodega Monastrell. I’ve tasted several of their portfolio and it’s clear that this is one of the stars of the DO. Valché, whose bottle shape and label design already make it stand out on the shelf, is a multi-layered, complex wine, and yet so easy to drink! Its 12 months in French oak have added subtlety, elegance and depth of flavour, but never masking the point – and the point is, just how good can Monastrell be! Answer – very, very good!

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In his book, ‘The New Spain’ revised edition 2004, the late John Radford says that DO Navarra’s wines “ . . represent some of the most exciting and innovative work being conducted in the country . .”.


I agree with him – but when I checked in my wine ‘cellar’ how many Navarra wines did I find – none! Tell me, when was the last time you bought a wine from DO Navarra? I have to admit, I rarely do and judging by what’s offered in friends’ homes and indeed in restaurants on the costas of Spain it seems I’m not alone. It’s a crying shame for Navarra producers who once were as powerful as those of their counterparts in the now far more famous, La Rioja. Well with perhaps a little help from this article and ones to follow, plus the rich wines of Bodegas Fernández de Arcaya I can foresee a change for the better!


Navarra is one of the oldest wine producing regions of Spain. When the Americas were discovered, ships leaving Spain charged with keeping the colonists provisioned, were packed to the gunnels with food and drink. As Navarra already had a fine track record in the export trade (to France, in fact) and in producing fine wine for the pilgrims en route to and from Santiago de Compostela their producers were an obvious choice for the merchants.


Of course the ships returned from the Americas laden with g old, silver, tobacco and other exotic and precious items. The wine producers were paid handsomely, this enabled them to invest in their business and to put in place that which was needed for the future generations to continue in the same vein. This foresight paid dividends as the Royal Courts, Cathedrals and Colleges of Spain located in the area during the following centuries also needed copious amounts of fine (and session!) wine.


Also, in business, clouds can have silver linings and when centuries later the famed French vineyards were hit by the dreadful Phyloxera plague, Navarra was ideally placed to take advantage of the fact that a thirsty France needed supplying with wine!


The good times rolled in Navarra. That is until that nasty pest, Phyloxera, decimated the productive vineyards of Navarra as well, just as it had in most of Europe! The area under vineyard was reduced by over 98% – a staggering blow which left a legacy. Navarra didn’t recover its former glory and as other areas, particularly nearby Rioja, gained in importance it was left slightly by the wayside.


Then the regional government decided to get to grips with the problem. EVENA, the Viticultural and Oenological Research Station was established in Olite – their brief, to investigate just about everything to do with wine in their area – from the soils, the varieties, the climate etc – right up to, and including bottling! Although still wounded, Navarra bounced back.


Clearly one of the reasons is that bodegas continued producing fine wines as they always had done, but they also upped the ante re quality. Bodegas Fernández de Arcaya is just such a bodega. Rustic, with a history in general agriculture as well in vineyards the winery is making traditional and modern/traditional Navarra wines – with one foot in the past, one in the present and an eye to the future.


There’s a small portfolio of wines, just seven in total: a white, a rosado and five reds, most of which, following traditional methods have an element of oak ageing, from roble to reserva in style. But it is the final wine listed on their website     ( that first attracted my attention.


From time to time over the years I’ve written about Kosher wines that are produced in Spain. There are, of course, Jewish communities all over Spain, whose religious dietary requirements must be met. However there are also many Jewish communities throughout the world which, like others, would like to have a wider choice of wines available to them. Kosher wines, wines that are permitted in the Jewish religion – and especially for their various religious festivals, but which are also jolly good wines!


‘Alate Kosher 2011 no mevushal’ from Bodegas Fernández de Arcaya is a 100%, authentic Kosher, Rabbi approved red wine – and a wine of quality, whatever your religion! Made from 100% Tempranillo it has a super deep red colour and an alluring aroma when first uncorked and poured into the decanter or glass.


Like all the Fernandez de Arcaya wines is it rich and fills the mouth with pleasure. Intense aromas of dark cherry, some red and black plum but also a passing note of ripe strawberry and redcurrant. There’s no mention of oak – but the wine feels like it’s had a short time in barrica whilst maintaining its freshness. Lovely wine, recommended!


Perguita Crianza is a died-in-the-maceration-tank traditional Navarra wine. 80% Tempranillo with supporting acts from Cabernet (explaining the darker colour of this wine) and a little Merlot. It’s had 12 monthss in American and French oak, a combination which gives the wine some added aromas and flavours of vanilla, cinnamon, coffee, coconut and a touch of tobacco. It’s a quite intense wine with some complexity and depth. Again rich, and certainly a wine for the dinner table, as well as for simply enjoying!


Selección Privada Reserva 2007 is made with 100% Cabernet it’s brooding power and perhaps harshness of youth have mellowed perfectly now making it an ideal wine for drinking now and for a couple of years yet. Two years in French and American have added the same as in the above, but in a slightly more melloed, understated manner. Blackcurrant, black cherry and damson are on the nose and the palate.


It’s a complex, structured wine with layers of pleasure throughout its depth and a certain feeling of opulence. It’s a personal favourite of the family, and I can see why!


Contact Colin: and through his unique website and you can now follow Colin on Twitter @colinonwine for all the up-to-the-minute information about the dynamic Spanish wine world!