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 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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