Ruta del Vino

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Jumilla is renowned for its wine – tipped by the American wine guru Robert Parker to be one of the stars of the wine world by 2015, outselling both Rioja and Ribera del Duero – so stock up now!

However Jumilla is also becoming well-known locally for its gastronomy, which is why, during last year’s Semana Gastronómica, so many people travelled from places like Murcia, Orihuela and Alicante to enjoy a gastronomic feast in Jumilla’s restaurants.

This year the 6th  Semana Gastronómica takes place from Saturday 5th November until Sunday 13th November, giving you plenty of opportunities to visit Jumilla for a special meal in one of the nine participating restaurants for an inflation-proofed 30€ (the same as last year), which you will be pleased to hear includes your drinks.  You can also enter the prize draw to win a weekend for two in the Balneario Vichy Catalan near Girona: I have my fingers firmly crossed!

Many of the restaurants will be featuring local specialities, which tend to be meat-based, so you might want to check out the menus before making your reservation if you are a pescatarian like me.  Click on the link below to see the leaflet, which includes all the menus at the individual restaurants, as well as a list of establishments on the tapas route.

FOLLETO S. GASTRONOMICA

We plan to go to Restaurante Monasterio as six of their seven starters include fish or vegetables, and the good news is that you share the seven starters between you.  I just hope that I have enough room for my main course and dessert!

If your budget doesn’t stretch to a meal out, why not come along and take part in the Ruta de las Tapas?  You can try a tapa and a glass of Jumilla wine for just 2€, and there are eleven different bars and restaurants to visit, though preferably not on the same day – especially if you are the driver!  If you go to four different venues, make sure that you get your leaflet stamped at each one so that you can participate in a prize draw to win a meal in one of Jumilla’s  fine restaurants.  We are hoping to visit at least eight of them – obviously on different days – which will give us two entries.

Other activities that will be happening during the Gastronomic Week are as follows:

For early risers who drive a 4×4, there is a guided route around the area on Sunday 6th November, leaving Bodegas BSI at 8 a.m. and finishing in Bodegas Viña Elena.  Not having a 4×4, I won’t be there – at least, that’s my excuse! For more information, please contact:  693758933 (movil).

The tourist office is offering guided walks around Jumilla on Sunday 6th and Sunday 13th November.  Contact them for further details at: oficinaturismo@jumilla.org.  Please note that the guided walk will be in Spanish, though there are information boards in both Spanish and English outside the main sites.  However, if you would like a personalised tour in English, you can contact John and me via the Walkers Tours of Jumilla page on this website.

Sunday 13th is the European Day of Wine Tourism, and where better to celebrate it than Jumilla?  All of the bodegas on the Ruta del Vino will be open. Click on the links for each bodega on the Ruta del Vino website to get more information.

Finally, also on Sunday 13th November, there will be an artisans’ market in Plaza de Arriba, which sadly we will have to miss as we are running the Race for Life (Carrera de la Vida) in Los Alcazares on the same day.  If you don’t know Jumilla, there is a street plan on the Jumilla official website to help you find your way to the Plaza, as well as all the bars and restaurants.  However don’t worry if you do get lost – there will be plenty to see and do in Jumilla during the Semana Gastronómica and you are guaranteed a warm welcome in any bar or restaurant that you stumble upon.

Restaurante San Agustín, where you can enjoy a gastronomic meal as well as tapas y vino!

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Even before you see the welcome sign to Jumilla, the Ciudad del Vino, it’s pretty obvious that Jumilla is a wine producing area by the numerous vineyards on either side of the road.  There are olive groves, almond trees, orchards of peaches and pears as well, but it’s the vine that dominates the landscape.

Vineyards at Casa de la Ermita

Wine has been produced in Jumilla since Roman times from which I gather – though history isn’t one of my strong subjects - that Jumillanos have been making wine for a very long time. 

When phylloxera devastated vineyards in France in the middle of the 19th century, there was a resulting boost to Spanish winemaking and particularly in Jumilla where the monastrell grapes were unaffected.  French wine-making immigrants brought their expertise to the area, which was a turning point for Jumilla wines, even though they too were affected by phylloxera at a later date. 

Early exports of Jumilla wine were in barrels and, as they were taken by train to Alicante and shipped from there, the wine was designated as Alicante wine.  The next important stage in the history of Jumilla wine therefore was on 22nd January 1966, when it was granted the right to have its own D.O.  Currently there are 42 bodegas within the D.O. Jumilla and, contrary to rumours, John and I haven’t visited them all.  At the time of writing our total is 13 – lucky for some!

The creation of the Ruta del Vino Jumilla, which is certified as one of the Wine Routes of Spain, was an important step for wine tourism in Jumilla.  Twelve bodegas, two wine shops, one specialist food and drink shop plus seven restaurants are amongst the associates, who all work hard at promoting Jumilla and its wine. 

Last year the Ruta del Vino won a special mention in the national awards for best enoturística initiative for its popular and successful Música entre Vinos events.  Los Chilines vinoteria was also shortlisted, which didn’t surprise us after attending their many excellent winetasting events, including La Gran Cata, one of the year’s highlights, which we will be going to next week.

Times are hard, so Jumilla isn’t resting on its laurels.  One of its biggest export markets is the USA, helped no doubt by the fact that Robert Parker has given 90 points or more to many Jumilla wines over the last few years.  He has recognised that Jumilla wines are extraordinarily good value and commented on their superb price-quality ratio.  Last year the main markets for Jumilla’s bottled wines were the UK, USA and Germany. 

However there are new markets out there and local bodegas are also looking to increase their exports to other countries such as Japan, Russia and Canada.  In spite of the world-wide recession, over 8 million litres of wine were sold in 2010, with a slight increase in the amount of bottled wine, although figures for bulk wine were down. 

This year Jumilla celebrates its 40th Fiesta de la Vendimia, where wine flows from one of the fountains in the city centre, much wine is drunk by both Jumillanos and visitors, and on the last night lots of wine is thrown over the participants.  Not surprisingly, John and I consider that a bit of a waste!

So let’s raise our glasses to Jumilla wine – Salud!

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Saturday night is party night in Jumilla – or it has been so far this month.  We thought that last week’s event at Bodegas JM Martínez Verdu would be hard to beat (what a party that was!) but Música entre Vinos at Bodegas Viña Campanero last night was great fun too.  One advantage was the location, which is within walking distance of our apartment, so there was no rush to get there on time.  I have to confess that this is one of my favourite bodegas: it is the smallest one in the area, so a tour doesn’t take much time; we like their wines too, which is always a bonus; it is very friendly – even our dog Lisa is made to feel welcome by Pedro and his father, though we had to leave her behind on Saturday night! 

A lovely evening at Bodegas Viña Campanero

We had assumed that the concert was being held indoors, as has happened in previous years, but when we arrived we discovered that everything had been set up outside.  It had been a lovely hot day, and it was starting to become pleasantly cool when we arrived just after 8pm, so we had no objections to this change.  One of the joys of living in Spain is that summer evenings aren’t cold, so we can enjoy lots of outdoor events.  Even when we left the bodega after midnight, I didn’t need to wear the shawl I had taken.

I went in search of a bottle of water, so that we could all have a cold drink while waiting for the wine to be served.  Our friends Lesley and John had arrived before us, while Lesley’s son Nick and his friend Tracey weren’t due to arrive until 9pm.  None of us was surprised when Nick and Tracey arrived to find that they hadn’t actually missed anything – have I mentioned the fact that punctuality isn’t a Jumillano characteristic?

We all agreed that the wine was worth waiting for, though we couldn’t agree on our favourite.  I really appreciated the chilled white and rosado wines on such a warm evening, but John soon moved onto his usual red wines and pronounced the Tinto Joven as his favourite wine.  We expected the food to be good and we weren’t disappointed: I particularly enjoyed the tiny portions of tortilla, the cheeses and the churros, which were served in traditional style with hot chocolate at the end of the evening. 

An unexpected bonus was the arrival of our friends Jaqui and Melissa with a couple of our Spanish neighbours. plus we saw lots of other familiar faces.  We heard a few other English voices, however I suspect that we were easily outnumbered by the Spanish community, as there aren’t that many British people (or indeed other foreigners) living in this area.

Andrés and Cristóbal were joined by a friend for this number

The music was provided by Andrés Martínez and Cristóbal Cutillas, who played some brilliant riffs on his guitar.  The infectious music soon had the appreciative audience nodding in time to the beat and rumour has it a couple of Brits were spotted dancing, along with several Spanish couples.  There were loud calls of “Otras” at the end of the evening, and the duo happily obliged.

We were glad that we didn’t have too far to go home, as we have another late night ahead of us.  One of our favourite groups Al Golpe is playing tonight, to bring the Fiestas de San Fermín to a close, and they aren’t due to start performing until 22.30.  It’s a good thing that we don’t have anything on the agenda for tomorrow morning!

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Música entre Vinos was a brilliantly conceived idea from the Ruta del Vino Jumilla and is now in its fourth season.   Put simply, during the summer months a series of concerts are held in local Bodegas, where you can also taste wines from the Bodega accompanied by local dishes.  We had already enjoyed five of the first six events (we applied too late for the sixth one!) and were looking forward to the other four that we have booked.

We popped into Los Chilines wine shop for a word with José María on Friday.  He told us that tickets were still available for the Música entre Vinos events at Bodegas Viña Campanero next weekend and Bodegas Pedro Luis Martinez the following weekend, however only a couple are left for the closing event at Bodegas Bleda on 30th July.  This year’s events have proved extremely popular and most have sold out well in advance.

Even more astonishing was the news that La Gran Cata, which is being held on 29th July, has already sold out.  Apparently there were 400 applications for the 250 tickets – luckily we had reserved tickets last week for ourselves and our friends Lesley and John!

On Saturday night we headed to Bodegas JM Martínez Verdú, hoping that the event would be as good as the one we attended there last year.  It was rather worrying when we drove through a downpour, as we suspected that the concert was going to be held outside.  We arrived to find our friend Fina looking anxiously at the sky.  She reassured us that our four reserved tickets were there, while muttering to us that she was nervous about the weather.

Inside the bodega

Fortunately the weather was on our side and we enjoyed a wonderful evening.  I have to say that the whole event exceeded our expectations: it was very well organised; the wine flowed; the food was absolutely delicious; the music was from the superb Flamenco group Al Golpe and we enjoyed watching Flamenco dancers too – and finally there was a wonderful atmosphere with so many people having a good time. 

The evening started with a tour of the bodega for those people who hadn’t visited it before.  The rest of us showed our tickets to get a wine glass and shortly afterwards the efficient, smiling staff wandered around with bottles of chilled white and rosado wines to top up our glasses.  That was a good start to the evening and it got even better when plates of food appeared.  The catering was provided by one of our favourite bars in Jumilla, Bar Paraiso. (When visitors want to taste authentic Spanish food in a typical Spanish bar, that’s where we take them, for the excellent value 8€ menú del día!)  

John, waiting with our friends Lesley and John, for the wine to appear!

We enjoyed some tiny empanadas (savoury pasties), what appeared to be mini sausage rolls (though I gave them a miss as I don’t eat meat) and the most delicious seafood vol au vents I have ever tasted.  I don’t know how many of the tiny vol au vents I ate, but every time they offered me another one I willingly accepted.  Yummy!

We then moved into the garden further down the road for the actual concert by Al Golpe.  Three coach-loads of British residents from Torrevieja on the coast had ventured inland for this event.  They had been  persuaded to come along by their Spanish teacher Begonia, who coincidentally is teaching Spanish to Lesley’s son Nick, who has just moved to Los Alcazares.

Once the concert started, the evening became very lively.  Al Golpe are a talented group of three young musicians from Jumilla.  I will give a link to a video that I took at the concert, but believe me they sound even better live, with an appreciative Spanish (and English!) audience.  To add to the experience there were a couple of lovely Flamenco dancers who, or so we were told, were the daughters of José María, the owner of the Bodega.

Flamenco dancers

While we were enjoying the concert, some good red wine was served (look out for Xenys, Xenysel or Calzás on the label, if you want to try their wines) and even more delicious food.  We had to smile when we overheard an English woman saying “they are bringing round bread and jam!”   Excuse me, Madam, it is a local delicacy of fried goat’s cheese topped with jam made from Monastrell grapes – and absolutely delicious.

Plate after plate of jámon, cold meats, cheese and tapas were brought round and, just when we thought we were full, they produced desserts!  Tiny dishes of lemon sorbet to refresh our palates were followed by arroz con leche, tarta moka and fresh fruit kebabs.

We all agreed that this was the best event so far, but we are going to three more this month so I will be reporting back on them over the next couple of weeks.

Video of Al Golpe

 

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I have decided to join the Ultimate Blog Challenge, which means trying to post on here every day in July – yep, that’s what makes it challenging!  It occurred to me that if I was just blogging about my everyday life in Jumilla it might become a bit repetitive, so I started thinking about a typical day in Jumilla.  What in fact would I be writing about?

First thoughts are: walking the dog; talking to our Spanish neighbours; meeting friends for coffee; shopping; going out for wine and tapas; cooking dinner; reading; watching Spanish TV.  Would these be interesting to other people?  I guess it depends on where you live, as for John and me all these activities are normal, however if you live in the UK or in other countries - or even if you live in Spain but on the coast – you might be fascinated by my insights into our life in Spain.  I certainly hope so! 

Of course you are unlikely to speak to Spanish neighbours on a regular basis or watch Spanish TV unless you too live in Spain, and going out for wine and tapas is more likely to be an occasional treat rather than a regular occurrence if you live in the UK. 

I will also be writing about some special events such as “Música entre Vinos”, which is an award-winning initiative from the Ruta del Vino Jumilla, and “La Gran Cata” at the end of the month.

Waiting for the concert at Bodegas Hacienda del Carche

If you are going to follow me on this journey for the month of July, you might be interested in knowing a bit more about me, so that you can see what you are letting yourself in for……!

After several years looking at property in Spain, my second husband John and I made the momentous decision to retire to the Spanish town of Jumilla, which is in a remote part of north-east Murcia.  Our initial problems trying to buy an off-plan property mainly account for the “downs” referred to in the title of this category, and our experiences once we moved into our new apartment here in Jumilla mainly account for the “ups”.  I wrote a book that chronicles our early adventures (follow the links on this website if you wish to buy it from Amazon!) and I am continuing our story through this blog.

I hope that you will comment on my posts and in particular I would love to hear how your life differs from our new life in Spain.  If you have any burning questions, please add them below and I will do my best to answer them.

View of Jumilla from Santa Ana

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Bodegas Viña Campanero

We discovered the Ruta del Vino not long after we moved to Jumilla, and we have enjoyed participating in their various activities: in particular their “Música entre Vinos” events in the summer months.  It struck us as an excellent idea, as we both enjoy listening to all types of music and we also enjoy tasting all types of wine.

We have to thank “Música entre Vinos” for introducing us to our good friend Juana María, whom we first met in Bodegas Viña Campanero two years ago.  Her son Salva happened to be playing in the band that was performing that day, and his fellow musicians insisted on Salva speaking to us as his English is very good.  Not long after that his mother joined us, and since then she has played an important role in helping us understand Spanish culture and also in saving us from making too many faux pas with our limited Spanish!  We have also had many laughs together and enjoyed lots of social activities with Juana María and her family.

Two years later we received an email from Pedro Piqueras, the President of the Ruta del Vino, telling us about their new award for those people who have participated in and supported the Ruta del Vino.  We had been nominated for the first award, much to our great surprise and delight.

Enjoying the vinos at Bodegas Alceño

This year we have enjoyed listening to the local symphony orchestra, a talented classical string quartet, a jazz trio, a brass quintet, a flamenco-pop singer, a jazz-mambo band and our favourite flamenco group Al Golpe amongst the many talented acts participating in “Música entre Vinos 2010″.

Pedro had told us the format for the closing event, when we were going to receive our award.  There would be a tour of the bodega at 12.00, after which Miriam, the manager of Bodegas Hacienda del Carche, would welcome everybody.  Pedro would follow Miriam, saying a few words about this new award and introducing John and me as the first recipients.  He then announced that our friend Juana María was going to speak – she had said she would be coming along on the day, but this was news to us!  We were expected to say something too, obviously in Spanish.  The local councillor for tourism would make the closing speech.

View from Bodegas Hacienda del Carche

We decided to play safe and have our speeches prepared well in advance, checked by Juana María in case of unintentional gaffes!  I was a bit nervous, though John seemed calm enough, but on the day all seemed to go well.

This was a great honour for us: two Brits, who have only been living in Jumilla for a few years, receiving an award from a local organisation. It is also a measure of how welcoming the Spanish people are towards anybody who is willing to integrate in their local community.

The presentation of our award

We were delighted with the lovely picture that was presented to us as a memento of our award.  It was a water colour painting of one of our favourite monuments, the Arco de San Roque, by a local artist.

After the presentation we were able to relax and enjoy the music played by the Banda Juvenil “Julián Santos”, followed by a very welcome glass of wine (or two) and plenty of tasty snacks.

As soon as we have details of “Música entre Vinos 2011″ I will post it on this website, as each year the events get bigger and better.

Banda Juvenil "Julián Santos"

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