We departed from Jávea at 08.30 on the 9th October to visit bodegas in the DO Almansa. DO Almansa is located in the province of Albacete. It is the most eastern region of La Mancha and bordering Yecla and Alicante. Its principal town is Almansa, which has a Moorish castle and other historic places of interest. The climate is continental (long, hot summers, cold winters). Rainfall is sparse (350 mm per annum) and sporadic usually in spring and autumn in the form of violent storms, often in the form of hail. Temperatures can reach 38°C in summer and -6°C in winter. Most of the vineyards are on flat land at altitudes of between 700 and 1000 m above sea level, comprising permeable lime-bearing soils that are poor in nutrients. The authorised wines are, Red: Monastrell, Cencibel (Tempranillo), Garnacha Tintoreta, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, White: Verdejo, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc
The first bodega we visited was Dehesa Carrascal It is a family property established in 1962. The vineyard is at an altitude of 1000 metres, with 270 hectares, 210 of Garnacha Tintorera and 24 of Syrah, the remainder being Cabernet-Sauvignon, Petit Verdo and Verdejo. Their production is 200/250,000 bottles per annum and they also export 1.6 million litres in bulk to Italy each year. At the bodega we were introduced to rotary fermentation tanks of which they had two, one of 35,000 litres, the other of 50,000 litres. They rotate slowly, two rotations per day and then the rotation is reversed the aim is to provide provide better fermentation and they are used in the production of their top quality wines
The first wine we tasted was ALMARINA a 100% verdejo. We were given a taste of the 2017,straight from the tank in which it had been for just 7 days and still cloudy as it had to go through another filtration before bottling. It cost 2.50€ and was enthusiastically receved. We then tasted three red TUDON’S, all crianza, all aged for 12 months in French and American oak, all 14% ABV and all costing 5.00€ per botlle. All variatles, they were a Syrah, a Petit Verdot both 2013 and a Monastrell 2014. Then came the piece de resistance, MAR GARCIA a 100% Garnacha Tintorera 2014, a product of the rotational tanks which was 7.00 per bottle.
Bodegas Almasenas was our next port of call. The Society last visited this bodega in October 2010. The bodega is located in a very modern building which was opened in 2008. It started in 2004 and at that time used the facilities of Bodegas Piqueras. It has as its principal grape Garnacha Tintorera, as well as Syrah, Monastrell and Petit Verdot. After a tour of the bodega, which included their impressive barrel cellar we were taken up to the tasting room which had an grand overview of the fermentation cellar, Here we were treated to an excellent tapas lunch while tasting their selection of wines.
We were unable to taste their Adarás Blanco, as a Japanese buyer had bought their complete stock and we were served with a Reisling Manovar which came from the most southerly Reisling vineyard in Europe. This was followed by a red Añada 2013 made from 100% Garnacha Tintorera. After Malolactic fermentation the wine remains with its lees for eight months and then a further 11 months without. It cost 6.00€ per bottle.
The second red we tasted was La Huella de Adaras 2014 a blend of Garnach Tintorera and Monastrell and was the first wine produced by the bodega and remains one of their greatest value for money. After a maceration of about 20 days in stainless steel and concrete tanks and then about 12monts French oak barrels. It is cherry red in colour with violet streaks and a nose of fresh red fruit. It cost 5.50€ per bottle.
Finally came their masterpiece Adaras Tinto 2008 a limited production of 5,000 bottles 100% Garnacha Tintorera. Maceration lasts 25 – 35 days and the wine is aged for 18 months in French oak. The wine is dark red and smells of red and black ripe fruits, it is smooth in the mouth with an excellent finish. Its development is done in the most traditional and artesanal way, being hand picked and treading in large tubs. It cost 12.00 per bottle.
Our overnight stay was at the Parador in Albacete a reasonably well appointed fairly modern building. We assembled for a reception overlooking the garden and then departed for dinner in the nearby pueblo at the Restaurant Chincilla of Montearagon. The food was most enjoyable and the wine and conversation flowed freely and we finally gently poured off the coach back at the Parador not long before midnight. So well had we wined and dined, there were no takers for night caps.
The following morning with our bags packed we returned to the pueblo of Chincilla de Montearagon. Located on a hill that dominates the plains of La Mancha, the town of Chinchilla de Monte Aragón has a beautiful medieval historic quarter which deserves a walk through its streets, in order to admire the great houses and courtyards. It preserves the remains of the wall, some Arab vestiges, and the gate of Tiradores. In the urban centre we can still find ancient Arab public baths, as well as several houses from the 16th to 18th centuries. In the Plaza Mayor, was the City Hall, which dates from the 16th to 18th centuries and the most important religious building, the parish church of Santa María del Salvador. After an hour and a half, which for most included a coffee break, we set off for our final bodega, Bodega Los Aljibes.
The Bodega Los Aljibes is located in Finca Los Aljibes, in the municipality of Chinchilla de Montearagón, Albacete. The winery is surrounded by 178 hectares of vineyard with 12/13 varieties of vines, cultivated at almost a thousand meters of altitude. Started in 1998, the new winery was opened in 2008. About 85% of its wines are exported mainly to the USA. This winery also has three horizontal steel tanks each with a capacity of 50,000 litres. We were all treated to a carriage ride around the vineyards before commencing our tasting in the courtyard of the bodega.
The first wine we tasted was Viña Aljibes Blanco 2016 a blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Chardonnay with an ABV OF 12.5%. It cost 5.95€ per bottle or 25€ per case. This was followed by the Viña Aljibes Rosado 2016 made exclusively from Syrah grapes also with an ABV of 12.5% and retailing at the same prices as the Blanco. A brilliant raspberry pink, it has notes of strawberry and caramel, is well structured and has a distinct acidity. Finally we tasted the Viña Aljibes Tinto which was a blend of Cabernet-Sauvignon, Garnacha Tintorera, Tempranillo and Petit Verdot. It was a dark cherry colour with hints of red and black fruit on the nose and was smooth on the palate. It had an ABV of 13.5% and retailed at the same prices as the Blanco.
We then went in for lunch during which we were to taste a further range of the bodegas wines. The first wine served with the lunch was Aljibes 2014 Red a blend of Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. With an intense cherry colour and a nose of strawberry and black fruits, it is long and intense on the palate. It has an ABV of 14% and cost 7.95€ or 40€ a case. this was followed by a monovarietal Aljibes Red 2014 Cabernet Franc. An intense maroon colour, it had a bouquet of mature fruits and was smooth on the palate. This cost 11.30€ per bottle or 60€ a case. Finally to round of a most enjoyable meal we tasted Selectus 2010 a limited production wine which was a blend of Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet-Franc, Syrah and Merlot. It had spent 18 months in oak and was a brilliant cherry colour. the wine was full bodied, well balanced with an ABV of 13.5% and cost 120€ a case.
We shopped well throughout the trip and boarded a well laden coach for our return to Jávea.