Monday, February 24, 2014

The Amazing Wines of Southeastern Spain's 'Region de Murcia' by Philip S. Kampe

Many years ago, much before the time when wine entered my life, I had the opportunity to visit the Murcia region of Spain. The area is famous for its old world charm, wonderful weather, rich history, tremendous agriculture--I remember eating the largest raisins in my life--and amazing wines.
That was many years ago.

Emcee for the Region de Murcia luncheon was well-known, Wine Educator, Michael Schaefer,CWE

Today, as a somewhat established wine journalist, some opportunities come to me. Take for example, a recent wine land food pairing luncheon that I attended. The luncheon was in honor of D. Jose Ballesta Germa, the Counselor of Industry, Business and Innovation of the Autonomous Region of Murcia.  Also in attendance was the Consul General of Spain, Juan Ramon Martinez Salazar.
The luncheon took place at one of the most beautiful, modern, sophisticated venues in New York, the Gabarron Foundation Art Museum and Gallery, 149 East 38th street.
The Gabarron Foundation is based on the promotion of culture that echos the Spanish land outside of its borders.

                                                       The Gabarron Foundation
While viewing the artsy Gabarron Foundation, appetizers of Canapes of Tortilla Espanola, Salmon Tartar and Pincho of Moroccan Spiced Lamb with yogurt sauce were served with a Bodegas Castano Rosado Monastell Yecla 2012.
                                   Bodegas Castano Rosado Monastrell Yecla 2012

A little history regarding the wines of Murcia:
In southeast Spain lies Murcia, in the Levante province. French winemakers settled in the area after Phylloxera killed their crops in the mid 1800's. The hot and dry, yet windy area resembled the area is France where they grew Mourvedre grapes , hence the Spanish Monastrell's birth in Murcia.
The D.O. Jumilla region is the best known area in Murcia for the Monastrell grape. Murcia is also home to the D.O. Yecla and D.O. Bullas regions, where the Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo and Syrah grapes are grown.
Some white grapes exist in the region of Murcia, primarily Macabeo, Merseguera and Airen.
In regard to the Monastrell grape, the wines are earthy, dark and meaty, often above 14% alcohol. The wines are special on their own and are often blended with other grapes from the region to create a new identity.

                                                      Ensalada Murciana
                 Bodegas Carchelo 'C' Monastrell-Tempranillo-Cabernat-Jumilla 2012
                                           Bodegas Luzon Bianco, Viura, Jumilla 2011

As we sat down for a wonderful speech on the region of Murcia, its wine history and varietals, Mr. Schaefer recommended that we start our meal off with by pairing the two wines poured, the Bodegas Luzon Bianco, Viura, Jumilla 2011 and the Bodegas Carchelo 'C' Monastrell-Tempranillo-Cabernet Jumilla 2012, with the Ensalada Murciana, composed of roasted peppers, onion, tomato, hard-boiled egg, capers, black olives, Mojama and almonds.
The pairing of both wines, white and red, did show the acidic versatility of the wines with what would be considered a variety of foods. The Mojama afforded the opportunity to sample both wines with a delicious ham that paired equally with both the red and white.
                                          Bodegas Juan Gil Monastrell  Jumilla2011

                                        Bodegas Bleda 'Divus' Monastell Jumilla 2005

Our main course was a Paella de Vegetables--Vegetable Paella with Bomba rice paired with a wine that is a true Jumilla legend, the affordable Bodegas Juan Gil Monastrell 12 Months Junilla 2011 and a bottle of Bodegas Bleda 'Divus' Monastrell Jumilla 2005.
Again, the wines seemed to be made for this dish.

Desserts followed with 'Drunken Goat' cheese with fig bread and assorted fruit. The classic Bodegas Barahonda 'Bellum El Remote' Monastrell Dulce, Yecla 2009 helped finish a wonderful and enlightening afternoon of wines and food from the Region de Murcia.

                                                          Philip S. Kampe

                                                 Wine Media Guild member

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