Bodega Dehesa De Luna

Just as the jeans-clad, ponytailed Pablo Iglesias, Secretary General of the nascent Podemos Political Party, strolled defiantly into the be-suited parliament, post General Election, demanding change; so too is the younger generation of vine growing, wine making dynasties seeking, at least modification, at best(?) a radical overhaul of the system.



As we approach the 2020’s the, once very conservative, Spanish wine scene is slowly being turned upside down – a reflection perhaps of the current political state of the nation.


Just as the jeans-clad, ponytailed Pablo Iglesias, Secretary General of the nascent Podemos Political Party, strolled defiantly into the be-suited parliament, post General Election, demanding change; so too is the younger generation of vine growing, wine making dynasties seeking, at least modification, at best(?) a radical overhaul of the system.


DOs: La Mancha, Utiel-Requena, Cava and others, including the iconic DOCa Rioja, have all recently seen prestigious bodegas jumping ship and going on their own. There will be more – mark my words – before those indolent, stuck-in-the-mud and stagnating Denominaciónes de Origen finally realise that, in a dynamic national and world-wide wine scene, there has to be, first reflection and then meaningful change.


The former, now; the latter, very soon.


One of the changes over the past decade, and more, that has occurred, and very successfully too, is the fact that Vino de la Tierra wines can no longer be considered to be in some way lesser than wines labelled DO. In fact, in some cases, it’s quite the reverse – which should be high on the agenda of those DOs who are now embarking on a course of reflection, as above.


I recently received a brace of wines from Bodega Dehesa De Luna (The Moon Godess) VdlT de Castilla, Albacete, whose small portfolio should really be a wake-up call to under-performing, laurel-sitting Denominaciónes de Origen.


Their labels, as well as their name, are give-aways re this bodega’s philosophy and, to a point their method of vine growing and wine making. Phases of the moon are depicted on the labels, and it’s this phenomenon, observed first at the dawn of man, that is central to Bodega Dehesa De Luna.


It’s not yet true to say that Bodegas Dehesa De Luna is a biodynamic bodega, they may never make that transition. However it is clear that their approach to vine tending and wine making goes beyond just organic principles. A look at their website will show that they are in tune with nature – they care about the land that they share with plant and animal life. And, it shows in their wines.


Luna Lunera Tempranillo 2014 (just 4€ from the online shop!) is made exclusively from Tempranillo, Spain’s darling, noble grape variety (though, for me it should be considered as, one of  . . ). The 2014 growing season saw a considerable elevation in temperatures, with a simultaneous, unfortunate drop (excuse the pun!) in rainfall, which us usually low anyway! The result was that as the vines were under stress, the grapes had to be harvested early. However, a suffering (but not too, too much) vine will produce excellent grapes for wine making. Thus the 2014 Luna Lunera is particularly lush on the palate.


It’s a darkly coloured wine, clean, bright and attractive in the glass. On the nose there are some violet, floral aromas with some dark berry fruits, blackberry and blueberry,  coming through. On the palate this fruit, aided and abetted by lighter coloured, ripe strawberry and loganberry, takes centre stage. It’s so juicy it almost sings!


It’s a semi-crianza, roble, red wine whose brief 3 months ageing in French and American oak has influenced the nose a little (traces on vanilla and a faint smokiness) and the palate too where you’ll  note a touch of toasted wood, along with some back-up smokiness. I appreciate the food-compatible, slightly bitter liquorice on the finish, which rounds off a wine to simply drink as well as enjoy with perhaps pasta, chicken and pork, as well as tapas, of course!


Dehesa de Luna 2013 (8€), which has a month’s phases of the moon as a centre-point on the label, is a step up in complexity and depth. A more serious wine, yes, but still having the byline – fruit first!


The Spring of 2013 as unusually cold and took its time to warm up into Summer, consequently vine development, front flower formation onwards, was delayed. The harvest, depending on each of the varieties involved in this wine – Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot, took just over 2 weeks and was a touch later than normal, whilst waiting for the fruit to mature fully.


The result is a wine that has, for me, a slightly French spin to it. Tempranillo is a very Spanish variety (although now grown all over the world, though not that I’ve heard of in France!) of course, but its bedfellows have a distinct French accent! It’s quite a full and rich Spanish red which also manages an engaging elegance, and I believe, eloquence too.


The aim of Bodega Dehesa De Luna is to create wines to speak of their terroir. The land between the rows of vines are covered with low lying overgrowth which attracts insects who also attach vine pests. This cover also helps contain what little rainfall there is, whilst  also encouraging the vines to dig deeper into the earth. Then, when the harvest is over this growth can be be dug into the soil to help replace any lost nitrogen. Healthy soil means healthy vines and of course there is a pleasing sustainability about the whole project.


Once the various varieties have finished their fermentation in stainless steel, with malolactic fermentation following, the master blender gets to work before the wine is finally placed in 225 litre barrels, where is stays for a period of about 6 months. Barrels are tasted to decide when is the exactly right time to bottle – then the wine is ready for the market.


And, whilst it’s drinking very well right now it will reward those who are prepared to wait at least a year (try three!) when  nit will have developed still further. Right now there is a very good all dark fruit presence, blackberry and blackcurrant with faint blueberry notes too. There is a touch of undergrowth on the nose which also underpins the rich fruit when the wine is held on the palate. There are toasty oak notes, though shy at first, and you may just feel, rather than taste, a slight Syrah based black pepper element too.


Contact Colin: and Facebook Colin Harkness and Twitter @colinonwine


Don’t forget also that Colin has his own fortnightly radio programme on Total FM 91·8 from /pm – 8pm Spanish time. The next Fine Wine & Gourmet Dine Programme is on Sunday 20th March, sponsored by DOP Yecla and Bodegas La Purísima, two of whose wines he’ll be tasting on-air whilst also sampling tapas from Restaurante Nesfor, Javea. You’d be mad to miss it!


Our venues were: the absolute luxury of the Asia Gardens hotel in Benidorm; the elegance of the Denia Marriott; and the golfer’s sheer paradise, the Intercontinental La Manga Golf and Spa Resort. It took quite an effort not to be overawed!



I’m now just about recovered from a delightfully hectic three-day wine tasting tour which took in: the Costa Blanca and the Costa Calida. Three splendid locations, approximately 150 clients and eight different wines. Frenetic, exhausting, at times stressful –  but what a buzz!


Our venues were: the absolute luxury of the Asia Gardens hotel in Benidorm; the elegance of the Denia Marriott; and the golfer’s sheer paradise, the Intercontinental La Manga Golf and Spa Resort. It took quite an effort not to be overawed!


In this matter, though, I was considerably helped by those who both organised the tasting tour and particularly by those who attended the tastings. Each different group had their personalities, their critics as well as a host of interesting and informed questions. Many also sheared my passion for Spanish wine – especially the fine wines that we tasted.


I often like to start a tasting with a Sparkling Wine – it just fits! Now, in Spain there are in fact lots of sparklers from which to choose – and they certainly aren’t all Cavas, as regular readers will know. However, I chose a lovely Cava, actually from Valencia, which is one of the locations outside of Cataluña, that is a permitted to make Cava. A Cava Valenciano also fitted my remit – to present wines that are made ‘locally’ as well as those from more fashionable areas.


Bodegas Domino de la Vega, from the Utiel-Requena area, whilst continuing to make good quality still DOP Utiel-Requena wines, now makes only Reserva Cavas. This is another reason why I chose a Cava to start the tasting – I’m on a mission to promote the different styles of Cava!


Expression Cava Brut Reserva has had a minimum of 15 months ‘en rima’, resting in bottle on its lees down in labyrinth-like underground cellars of Bodegas Dominio de la Vega. This time has added depth of flavour and extra complexity to this Macabeo based wine. It’s full in the mouth and able to take on various dishes as an accompaniment, without losing at all it’s raison d’etre, that fresh, clebration that we all love!


The first of two whites, is for me, the equal best white wine made under the auspices of DOP Valencia! Using the indigenous, little heard of, Verdil variety which has been fermented in oak, it also makes room in the blend for the: fuller, Chardonnay, the aromatic and clean Sauvignon, as well as one of my favourite varieties, Viognier.


Imagine the mix! It’s so fruity, a blend of pears, citrus, apricot, slightly under-ripe pineapple, gooseberry all bound together with a very slight vanilla and a whisp of smoke! Blanc d’Enguerra, from the eponymous Bodegas Enguerra – I love it!


Whilst DOP Rueda is quite rightly known for it’s Verdejo, that variety that has some of the aroma and taste profile of Sauvignon Blanc, there is also some very good Sauvignon made there too. One of my favourite Rueda bodegas is Palacio de Bornos and their Sauvignon Blanc 2015 is a vinous breath of fresh air!


Herbs, gooseberry, nettles and a faint aroma of asparagus are all there, along with a very slight aroma of peaches (as a very helpful lady pointed out), peach schnapps, for me. It is exactly what we want from a Sauvignon – super perfume, with racing acidity and a really thirst quenching, fruit filled flavour!


Bodegas Arzuaga Navarro, DOP Ribera del Duero, will be know to many readers – for their rich red wines, and if you’re lucky, their luxury hotel and spa! However, with such good grapes from old vines in well situated vineyards which enjoy their own micro-climates, it’s not a quantum leap to realise that they may also make top rosado wines too!


And they do! Rosae is in a rather sexy bottle, and the wine enhances that theme. It’s delicate and yet is full for a rosado. It’s elegant, and yet has power as well. You’ll find raspberries in abundance, with a faint reference to some bigger, black fruit.


I’ve written several times about Gran Caus rosado from Can Raffols, DO Penedés – which I believe to be the best rosé in Spain. Its colour almost startles when it is poured into your glass from an opaque bottle. And the Merlot, plum aromas start to slowly come out as the wine warms a little in the ambient temperature.


The dark bottle is deliberate, this rose defies the general rule that Spanish rosado has to be drunk young. We tasted the 2015, as young as it’s possible to be, of course, but this wine is built to last as well. Super rosé wine that will shock those who denounce our pink friend!


DOP Bullas is a rising star in the Spanish Wine firmament – and yet it has, for many decades, made wines of high quality. The reason it’s rising now is because people are cottoning-on and because the Consejo Regulador are focussing on promoting the jewels that are fashioned there!


Bodegas Monastrell makes top quality wine, based largely, but not exclusively, around the Monastrell variety (the clue is in the name!). Valché is their flagship wine, winning the Gold Medal in the DOP Bullas Competition last year (I know, because I was there – as Max Boyce would say!). Aged in French oak for 17 months the wine, at first gives a lovely smoked vanilla aroma, quickly followed by the essence of Monastrell, delightfully rich black plum aroma and flavour, with a sometimes quite illusive dark chocolate note too!


Our final dry red wine was also made with 100% Monstrell, this time from nearby DOP Yecla. The limited edition, top wine of Bodegas Castaño, Casa Cisca, at about 35€/bottle, sells out every year, with many cases going to the USA. It’s not flattery at all to say that this wine is one of my favourite Spanish red wines – excellent quality!


From the oldest vineyards, over 60 yrs of age, only the best small bunches are selected for this iconic wine. It’s aged in oak for 16 months but, judicially, so as to enhance the depth, the richness, the fragrance, the complexity and the flavour, without at all diminishing the glorious fruit. The epitome of top quality Monastrell wines!


Would it be too much Monastrell to use another for the final wine? Well, not at all, as Castaño’s Monastrell Dulce, although made with the same variety, is a whole different story. Rich dessert wine whose grapes were left to turn raison-like on the vines until November, it is aged for six months in American oak. Probably the best red dessert wine in Spain!


Try with summer pudding, dark berry and/or chocolate desserts, and for me the best pairing – blue cheese! Amazing!


PS My next Fine Wine & Gourmet Dine Programme on Total FM 91·8 is on Sunday 3rd March at 7pm Spanish Time. We’ll be tasting wines from Bodegas Castaño, DOP Yecla. Why not buy a bottle and ‘join’ us in the comfort of your own home?


Contact Colin: Twitter @colinonwine  Facebook Colin Harkness

Following Wine Pairing Dinner at Nox

Good evening, Colin, just going through the article [] and I can almost hear your voice saying what is in it! It is as entertaining as the wine presentation you did that night, brilliant job anyway…really wish you could assist the Abadia Retuerta tasting event! It was outstanding!!! I’ll keep you informed on future events! Lovely and interesting article you made there. Congratulations!!!! Hope everything is well down in Murcia!!! Kind Regards!

Steve Sanchis

Commercial Dept.

Bodegas Leopoldo, Ondara

Wine Tasting Event, Asia Gardens Hotel

Many thanks for the very informative and fun presentation . . . .

Hi Colin

Many thanks for the very informative and fun presentation at The Asia Gardens evening,
stunning location and superb selection of wines.
We chatted briefly in the bar and you mentioned a couple of fellow wine makers, Sue and Roger, that we could possibly get in touch with so their email address would be much appreciated.
Also we would be interested in any future wine tours, would these be covered on  your mailing list?
Thanks again
Stewart and Jenny Teague