Torrential rain as we motored down the AP7 did not bode well for a day out which included a tour of a vineyard during the harvesting season. However, the Rain Gods were kind and the Moraira-Teulada U3A Wine Group suffered nothing more than a slight dampening on their season opening day trip to Bodegas Castaño in Yecla some two hours away. A brilliant, highly informative and enjoyable day was had by all and the coach was loaded with a goodly supply of wines on the return trip.
The visit opened on a windswept plateau 800 metres above sea level where one of the Castaño vineyards, which spread across nearly 600 hectares around Yecla, was ready for harvest. The third generation of the family grows mainly the hardy Monastrell grape which stands up to the 40c+ summer temperatures and winter frosts. It also grows Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon among others, largely for blending with the Monastrell to produce wines which are winning awards globally. It also has experimental rows of vines from as far afield as South America and Australia to see if they too could one day adapt to the arid climate and form part of their stock.
A tour of the winery, hosted by the knowledgeable Raquel Ortuño, showed the complicated production process from grape pressing to bottling and storage – leaving some wondering how a bottle of wine doesn’t cost twice as much. Some 90% of production goes for export but thankfully there was more than enough kept back for sampling over a lengthy four course lunch.
Just enough time was left for a visit to the bodega shop for a stock up before it was back to the coach and a doze on the way home.
Our thanks again must go to wine group leaders, Pat and Brian Clarke, who organised the trip and have a series of bodegas lined up for the monthly tastings in Teulada over the coming months.