In the beautiful and ancient Spanish community of Murcia, just on the Mediterranean coast, we find the beautiful DO region of Jumilla. Although the DO status was granted in the 1960s, this region has long held a fine reputation for its powerful and fascinating red wines, with the Romans clearly being big fans of the grapes that grow so well here, and the wines that they produce.
It isn’t difficult to see why Jumilla enjoys such a high status in the world of wine, nor why it is head and shoulders above the other wine regions of Murcia. Jumilla has a fantastic range of geographical and geological features, which the experienced grape growers of the region use to their full advantage. Here, we have wide, open plains, cut in half by the mountain range which runs through this part of the country.
While the region is characterized by intense heat and dryness, and seemingly unfavorable conditions for viticulture, the knowledge and experience of the vintners of the region results in low yields of highly flavorful Monastrell grapes. This grape varietal - from which 80% of Jumilla wines are made - produces deep and complex red wines, which are aged in oak and reveal extremely rounded and intensely fruited characteristics. There are also some wonderful rose wines made from this grape. The white wines of the region are also highly praised and sought-after, and include Airen, Malvasia and others.
Ever since the Phoenicians and Romans brought their knowledge of vine cultivation to Spanish soils, the country's culture has grown alongside wine production, with wine being a vital part of Spanish identity and Spanish traditions. Each region of Spain has a wine quite distinct from the others, and it is produced by smallholders and families as much as it is by large companies and established wineries. From the relatively mild and lush regions of La Rioja to the arid plateaus that surround Madrid, grapes are grown in abundance for the now booming Spanish wine industry, and new laws and regulations have recently been put in place to keep the country's standards high. By combining traditional practices with modern technology, Spanish wineries are continuing to produce distinctive wines of great character, flavor and aroma, with the focus shifting in recent decades to quality over quantity.