Bargain from Jumilla
In my ongoing search for wines that significantly exceed expectations for their budget price, I frequently come back to Spain ... and one of my favorite fishin' holes for these affordable beauties is the region called Jumilla.
Pronounced "Hoo-meel-ya," it's a bit off the beaten path, an arid, mountainous region in Southeastern Spain, not too far inland from the Mediterranean roughly midway between Barcelona in the east and Gibraltar in the south.
By reputation the source of rough, even coarse country wines, Jumilla is improving its image in recent years with producers like Bodegas Agapito Rico (the maker of today's wine) and Casa Castillo, both of whom are seeking an international market with competitive, affordable wines.
Growing mostly Monastrell (the Spanish name for Mourvedre) as the primary red grape, in a region not entirely dissimilar to Bandol in Provence, it's no surprise that Jumilla has the capability to make a delicious, full-bodied and earthy red wine; unlike Bandol, however, its producers are mellowing those wines by blending them with softer grapes. Today's tasting - one of the best $8 wines I've run across recently - is a blend of 50 percent Monastrell, 30 percent Tempranillo and 20 percent Merlot.
It's a hearty, earthy wine and an unusually good value, worth seeking out.
Carchelo 2000 Jumilla ($7.99)
Very dark garnet, with bright glints of reddish-purple against the light. Subtle and earthy, red berries, cherries and hints of "tree bark," a pleasant earthy woodiness that I often find in Mourvedre (or as the Spanish call it, Monastrell). Ripe fruit and barky notes gain presence when the glass is swirled. Full-bodied, dry and tannic, lots of fruit and soft, fuzzy tannins, a texture so full that the wine almost seems "chewy." Plum and berry flavors are balanced by snappy acidity in a long finish. U.S. importer: Classical Wines from Spain, Seattle. (June 28, 2003)
FOOD MATCH: I coated chicken with a tart-sweet glaze of red miso and Asian spice to bring it up to this hearty wine; try it also with rare steaks.
VALUE: A lot of wine - and ageworthy, too - for a surprisingly low price.
WHEN TO DRINK: Enjoyable now despite the tannins, and will mature into something even more interesting with a few years' cellaring.
AVAILABILITY: This wine is fairly widely distributed, but I find that the vintage available locally lags behind the current release. The 2001 and 2002 are in the marketplace and should offer similar value, but note that this wine tends to need a little time in the bottle.
WEB LINK: The U.S. importer has a page about the producer at
The California Wine Club:
Reds, Whites and You Sale!
The California Wine Club is having a special "Reds, Whites and You" sale - but only until July 10. You can save up to 60 percent off regular retail on an intriguing selection of wines. Choose from a vertical tasting of Paso Robles Pinot Noirs, Napa Valley Merlots, Cabernets and, of course, lots of great Chardonnays to enjoy during the upcoming summer months.
The list of sale wines is only available via E-mail. Call 1-800-777-4443 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to tell them you are from The 30 Second Wine Advisor and they'll be happy to send you the list of wines in their "Reds, Whites and You" Sale!
If you're looking for cool summertime sippers at hot prices, call or E-mail The California WIne Club before July 10!
Great Seattle Port Tasting report
For a man with the wine experience of Port expert Roy Hersh, declaring an event "one of the most fun wine weekends of my life" is strong talk indeed. But he says this recent four-day gathering of Port aficionadoes in Seattle - a year-and-a-half in the planning - was a historic tasting that few of its lucky participants will ever forget.
Twenty serious Port fanciers convened from Portugal, the UK and across America to share their passion of Port. In one day's tasting alone, 25 wines were served with an average bottle age of 80 years, and a cumulative bottle age that was just shy of 2,000 years.
Now online is Hersh's full report, A Weekend to Remember: The 2003 Great Seattle Port Tasting,
For our online library of articles about Port by Hersh and other experts, browse all of the Read About Port pages,
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Wednesday, July 2, 2003