Many members of Moraira-Teulada U3A wine tasting group went to bed last week dreaming of just what 3,000,000 bottles of wine would look like.
That is the impressive annual production of Bodegas Castaño, a two hour drive away at Yecla in the Murcia region, which was chosen for a group visit.
Quite how long it would take the 53 tasters on the trip to get through even a day’s production was a mind-boggling question, but 3,000,000 bottles! Thankfully with 90% going for export, livers will not have to be damaged.
An early start saw the group, led by organisers Pat and Brian Clarke, heading off from outside the WOK in Moraira at a time many would normally still be tucked up in bed.
A slight hiccup saw the mid journey coffee break fail to materialise. A Plan B stop further on saw a restaurant pull down the shutters as the coach pulled up outside.
Eventually much needed caffeine – and loos – were secured at the bull ring around the corner from the bodega in Yecla where a centenary of wine making is being celebrated this year by the third generation of Familia Castaño producers.
A very informative tour around part of the 580 hectare vineyard – guided by Raquel Ortuño – revealed that while the vast majority of vines are of the Monastrell variety, the go-ahead bodega is also experimenting with vines from more than 40 countries across the globe to see how they fare in both the scorching and frosty Yecla temperatures – some well, some not so well it appeared to the untrained eye.
A tour of the bodega was followed by a splendid lunch at which some of the bodega’s wines were quaffed in impressive quantities.
Among the five wines tasted was a lovely pale 100% Monastrell rosado and a sturdy 14.5% red, Solanera, an old vines’ blend of Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha Tintorera .
A trip to the bodega shop saw the bus loaded up with cases of wine for the homeward journey during which many – for some reason – felt the need for a doze.
The end of a great day came with just enough time to speed home to watch England go down 1 – 0 to Belgium at the World Cup.
As the England team progress, so too will the wine group, with the Castaño family keen to kick off the next season of monthly wine tastings in Teulada in September.
Review by Ian Graham, Photos by Colin McNae