Bodegas Viña Elena

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With the arrival of June and (hopefully!) a long hot summer, we can also look forward to this year’s Música entre Vinos in Jumilla, organised by La Ruta del Vino de Jumilla.

What exactly is Música entre Vinos?  Not surprisingly it involves both music and wine: most events will start with a tour of the bodega, followed by a concert – and you will of course have the opportunity to try the bodega’s best wines accompanied by a variety of local tapas. When I say tapas, I mean a lot of food, so do come with an empty stomach! I don’t eat meat, but I still manage to find plenty of food that I can enjoy. Tickets cost a reasonable 20€, the same as last year, and can be bought either direct from the bodega or from Los Chilines wine-shop at 69 Avenida Levante in Jumilla.

The organisers have made sure that there is something to suit everybody’s musical tastes with a wide variety of music from pop to flamenco, plus a bit of jazz.

Enjoying last year's event in Bodegas Viña Elena

The opening concert will be at 12.00 on Sunday June 2 in Bodegas Viña Elena, and has already sold out. The music will be provided by the “Banda de Música Asociación Musical Julián Santos”, one of Jumilla’s two local bands. Bodegas Viña Elena is a family-owned bodega, 17km from Jumilla, which was founded in 1948 by Elena’s grandfather.

The second event will start at 20.00 on Saturday June 8 in Bodegas Luzón, which is about 3km from Jumilla on the road to Calasparra. The legendary Jumillano group “Magic Bus” will be entertaining everyone with their pop-rock music. Although I don’t have any favourites, I have to say that last year’s event was one of the best organised –  and we particularly liked the welcoming drink and tapas before we even started on the tour! Unfortunately we will have to miss this year’s event as my niece is getting married in Sunderland on the same day: sometimes family has to come first!

On Saturday 15 June the concert will be hosted by Casa Canales delicatessen in the centre of Jumilla. As there won’t be a bodega tour the evening will start at 21.30, with the extraordinary duet “Alex & Cristobal” delighting us with their great versions of pop, rock and blues. This is another concert that we will be sorry to miss, as we don’t return from the UK until 17 June.

On Sunday 16 June at 12.00 “Cantos Jazz Fusión” will be in concert at Bodegas Casa de la Ermita, situated in El Carche 11.5 km from Jumilla. This talented trio will be interpreting the music of Frank Zappa, the Beatles and Miles Davis amongst others in what they describe as “Jazz Ambiental”. It will definitely be a great afternoon out for jazz fans!

We are looking forward to the event organised by Los Chilines wine shop at 21.30 on Friday 21 June, especially as we will have already missed three superb concerts. “Antuan Muñoz y Banda” will be playing Flamenco fusion music at Salones Pio XII, in an idyllic setting overlooking the town of Jumilla. Their musical style is best described as flamenco mixed with rumba, reggae, rock, pop, funky: a veritable cocktail of rhythms and styles.  Prepare to be amazed!

Bodegas Xenysel is another family-run bodega, which is based in the countryside between Jumilla and Yecla.  “Sazón Bolero”, a quintet formed of four Murciano musicians and a Jumillano singer, will be performing traditional boleros at the bodega at 20.00 on Saturday 22 June. We always get a warm welcome here, and we enjoy the concerts outside in the beautiful countryside, so we are hoping some kind person will offer us a lift there!


Concert in Bodegas Xenysel

The last event of the month will be held in Bodegas San Isidro (BSI) at 20.00 on Saturday 29 June. “Potato Head Jazz Band” will be playing “Hot Jazz”, also known as Dixieland. Their music will transport us to the New Orleans of the 20s and their show promises be a combination of music and good humour with audience participation – I can’t wait! The good news is that this bodega is close to where we live, so we can walk there easily and then stagger home afterwards.

If, unusually, you don’t enjoy good music and good wine, these aren’t the only events in Jumilla this month. The tourist office is offering free guided visits on Sundays throughout June.

On 2 and 9 June there will be guided walks to the Castle and the Old Town, starting at 10.00 from the tourist office. You are advised to book in advance as places are limited.

On 23 June the theme of the walk is religious art and again it will start from the tourist office at 10.00.

Finally on 30 June the walk will be along an urban route, leaving at 10.00 from Teatro Vico.

The walks will be conducted in Spanish, so if you think that may be too challenging for your linguistic abilities, why not book a free Walkers Tour of Jumilla in English? Send me a message via the Contact page if you would like further details.

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So what is your favourite kind of music? Some people find that question easy to answer.  My friend Wendy’s husband Con is a jazz fanatic, with too many albums for me to count them all: I’m not sure whether we are talking 100s here or even 1,000s!  My father loved classical music and would sit listening to his records in the dining room whenever my brothers and I had “Top of the Pops” on in the living room. 

Showing my age now (!) - I still love listening to music from the 60s, plus some light classical music, in memory of my Dad.  However, since moving to Spain, I have also got into flamenco in a big way.  I don’t think it is a case of which music I prefer, it’s more a matter of what mood I am in, and I am sure that many other people feel the same way.

I have pasted some links below to videos on youtube that were taken at the recent Música entre Vinos concerts, with music varying from flamenco to jazz via swing.  Needless to say, I enjoyed all these concerts even though the music was very different. 

I’d love you to tell me which is your favourite video - and why.  (Scroll to the end of this post for the comments box.)

Casa de la Ermita, where Orquesta Brass Ensemble played

  Click here to play video: Orquesta Brass Ensemble

With friends, waiting to hear Al Golpe at Bodegas JM Martínez Verdú

Click here to play video: Al Golpe 

Bodegas Alceño - Jumilla Black Band

 Click here to play video: Jumilla Black Band

John and I waiting for vino at Bodegas BSI

Bodegas Viña Elena

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If you fancy visiting a Bodega in or near Jumilla you are spoilt for choice, however if you are specifically looking for a tour in English that will limit your choice a bit, as Jumilla is inland and therefore many local people only speak Spanish.  This guide is intended therefore to point non-Spanish-speaking people in the right direction.

The bodegas situated within walking distance of the city centre are all very different, so this is also a resumé to help you decide which bodega is right for you.  You may of course want to visit several bodegas, however you will need a lot of stamina if you intend visiting them all on the same day!

1.  Bodegas Viña Campanero

This is the smallest  bodega in Jumilla and if you speak a bit of Spanish it is definitely not to be missed.  Pedro and his father are very welcoming: they enjoy showing people around and are very proud of their newest acquisition, a small bottling unit, which was only installed last year.    There are great views of Sierra Santa Ana from the salón, a tiny wine museum, and they also have a reasonably priced shop on their premises.  The bodega is behind BSI, so it would be good to combine a visit here with one at BSI.
 
http://www.vinacampanero.net/visitas.asp

Museum in Bodega Viña Campanero

 2.   Bodegas San Isidro (BSI)

The largest bodega in Jumilla is BSI, which is a co-operative.  Tours in English are available, but please make sure you book in advance.  They have some experimental vines on their site, however in the vendimia we see tractors queuing up with loads of grapes to deposit there, many of them from small vineyards, as well as trailers full of olives later in the year.  They also have their own wine museum and a shop on their premises.
 
http://www.bsi.es/
 
3.   Bodegas Silvano Garcia

They have two members of staff who speak good English, and they do several different tours, including a visit to their aroma room.  The visit to the aroma room costs a bit more but all our visitors have said it is worth doing, as it is not only educational but also fun. 

If you don’t normally like sweet wine (I didn’t), I recommend forgetting your prejudices and trying their award-winning dulce wines.  I am now a convert and particularly enjoy their Monastrell dulce, which is perfect with dessert at the end of a good meal.

http://www.silvanogarcia.es/es-bodegas-silvano-garcia-visitas-a-bodega.html.
 
4.  Bodegas Pedro Luis Martínez

More commonly known as Bodegas Alceño, we think that this bodega is so good because the chief winemaker is very particular about things such as the correct temperature, which is reflected in the quality of their wines.  It is the oldest bodega in Jumilla, being founded in 1870.  Some English is spoken, but remember to book in advance if you want a tour in English.  Don’t forget to buy some wine before you go!
 
http://www.alceno.com/ 

5Bodegas Bleda

We were lucky enough to be guinea pigs for their first tour of the bodega in English several months ago.  Antonio Bleda  had only been learning English for two months at the time, and we were very impressed by how good he was: by now he probably speaks perfect English!

It is worth visiting this bodega for its location alone: situated about 2 kilometres outside Jumilla on the road to Ontur, and surrounded by vineyards.  Not only that, but they have many award-winning wines, though my personal recommendation is their Castillo de Jumilla Blanco, which everybody who has tasted it rates highly – even the committed red wine drinkers! It is also very reasonably priced, so you can afford to buy several bottles to take home.

vinos@bodegasbleda.com

6.  Bodegas Carchelo

Slightly off the beaten track, but recommended for a visit because of its location in the Valley of El Carche and because at least one member of staff (Poñi) speaks good English.  My daughter Kate was impressed by their branding, and said that she would immediately spot their wines in any wine-shop because of the distinctive black and white hoops around the neck of the bottle.

export@carchelo.com

7.  Bodegas Viña Elena

Another family business, which was originally called Bodegas Pacheco after the grandfather of the current generation.  It is now named Bodegas Viña Elena after Paco’s youngest daughter Elena, who is being groomed to take over from him.  You can see the original bodega as well as the smart new installations, and don’t miss the lovely garden at the back.  The bodega is at km 52 on the N344, the main road between Jumilla and Murcia.  Tours are available in English by contacting them in advance.

visitas@vinaelena.com

The local bodegas charge from 5€ per person for a tour, including wine tasting and nibbles, though you can negotiate a reduction for a large group.  As mentioned above, it is advisable to book in advance, especially if you want a tour in English.  All of them sell wine on the premises, so even if you haven’t booked a tour of the bodega you can pop in to buy a few bottles of your favourite wine.

Other bodegas well worth a visit are Bodegas Luzón, Bodegas JM Martínez Verdú, Hacienda del Carche, Casa de la Ermita and Bodegas Finca Omblancas.  They are all out of town, which means you can see the vineyards as well as visiting the bodegas.  More details can be found on the Ruta del Vino website - you need to scroll down their page to find links to all the bodegas.

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We had such a wonderful evening last night that I don’t know how I can possibly condense it all into one post.  We had two events to attend with our friends Lesley and John (thank you for chauffeuring us Lesley!) both of which were being held outside, so we were grateful that it was another lovely summer’s evening.

Our friend Cristina was getting married under a pergola at Salones Pio XII and we didn’t want to miss seeing her even though we had booked tickets for our final Música entre Vinos, which was due to start at the same time.  The bride was traditionally late, though early by Jumillano standards – however she does come from near Barcelona, which probably explains it.  Cristina looked stunning, in a very elegant understated way, as she arrived in an open-topped sports car. 

Here comes the bride!

The occasion was enhanced by our friend Jaqui singing a couple of songs, and although the civil ceremony was in Spanish we could follow what was happening, more or less: the moment when they both said “Si”, the handing over of the rings, the new husband kissing his bride and finally the signing of the register.  We witnessed the moment when they became husband and wife, before we discreetly slipped away.  We had brought some rice to throw, however when we spotted at least two large boxes of rice sitting on a wall behind the pergola we reckoned there were plenty of other people willing to carry out this duty.

Bodegas Viña Elena were hosting Música entre Vinos for the first time, so we were curious to see how well they coped.  We have visited the bodega before, so we weren’t too worried about missing the tour, and Loles had kindly confirmed that the concert wouldn’t be starting until at least 21.15.

The organisation of the whole evening was superb, starting with the moment when we arrived at 21.15 and were efficiently directed first to the car park and then to the collection point to pick up the all-essential wine glasses.  Background music was being played as we headed towards the bodega, so we knew that Loles had been correct in saying that if we arrived at that time we wouldn’t miss any of the concert. 

We had timed our arrival to perfection.  We were trying the first of four wines - Paco Pacheco Blanco 2010 - and accepting some of the tasty food on offer, when the musicians started tuning up.   The catering had been done by Media Luna, who brought out plate after plate of delicious food: including spoons of scrumptious seafood, chunks of Manchego cheese, plenty of jamón for the carnivores, and cubes of juicy melon.  We were impressed by the Bodega’s Tinto Jóven, which we reckon is one of the best from 2010.

Bodegas Viña Elena

There was a great ambiance and I would say that this was one of the most enjoyable events we have attended during Música entre Vinos this year.   Part of this was due to the fact that so many of our friends were there enjoying themselves, part of this was due to the friendly welcome we received from Paco Pacheco and his family and part of this was due to the music from Cantos  Jazz Fusión, playing classics like “Bye Bye Black Bird” and “Autumn Leaves”.

We mentioned this to our friend Pedro, President of the Ruta del Vino, towards the end of the evening – adding that we preferred it when busloads of fellow Brits weren’t around, especially those who complained about the lack of chairs!  Having said that, after standing up for well over three hours in my high heels, I was grateful when a couple of people left and we were able to grab their chairs to sit down for a while.

Our final verdict is that Música Entre Vinos 2011 was an outstanding success, with a winning combination of good wine and food accompanied by good music, and that each year it seems to get even better.  We can’t wait until Música Entre Vinos 2012 – and promise to publish full details here, as soon as Pedro emails me!

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