Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Murcia: An Introduction.

I'm just going to throw this out there:

Spain rocks!

This statement should come as no surprise, seeing as though I've expressed my passionate adoration for all things Spanish on several accounts.  I love Spain.  Spain makes me feel genuinely happy inside- from the minute I purchase my plane tickets stateside, to the last glance over my shoulder as I clunk down the air tunnel on to my returning flight home.  My journey back to California is usually a quiet one, full of reflection and an accompanying twinge of heartache, knowing that it may be a while before I return.  Beautiful memories bounce around my head like fireflies contained in jar, burning brightly, jumbled and fascinating.  Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing those memories of the people and places we became acquainted with throughout our exploration of the breathtaking Region of Murcia.

Courtesy of the Instituto de Fomento de la Región de Murcia (INFO), both the hubbs and I were invited to join the adventure by our wonderful host Mike Matilla, of Argos Consulting.  It was decided that the hubbs would, of course, cover all aspects of wine in Murcia, while I was fortunate enough to be the food gal, cataloguing with whom, where and what we were going to be eating on the trip.  Eat we did, until our stomachs were uncomfortably fat and full of Jamón Ibérico, Manchego, fried pulpo, Marcona almonds, Bacalao, bowls of fresh local fruit and flan dulce galore.  We were treated to fantastic al fresco lunches, homestyle banquet feasts, modern day Spanish gastronomy and tapas, tapas, tapas for five days straight-- I was a girl in heaven.

On top of all this phenomenal food, focus was concentrated on the "Wines from Murcia", specifically the Denominación de Origen (appellations) of Yecla, Jumilla and Bullas.  Each day was devoted to winery visits, meeting the associates, touring the facilities and learning the history behind these unique producers of incredible, affordable wines that primarily showcase the extraordinary native Monastrell grape.

Monastrell grapevines baking in the Spanish sun.
Over the course of five days we visited ten lovely wineries, three restaurants, an agriturismo, countless tapas bars, one castle, a wine museum, an ancient cathedral, and underground bar with a Roman wall running through it, a real-life cave dwelling and a humble homestead church...  Whew.  As tiring as all this may have been, especially running on an estimated 3 hours sleep each night (when in Spain!), it has to have been one of the most memorable, educational, fun-loving, spirited adventures I've endured and absolutely enjoyed.

Day one in Yecla will cover visits to the creative coop of Bodegas La Purisima, the gorgeous Bodegas Señorio de Barahonda, lunch under the sun and laughter at Bodegas Castaño, a warm welcome from the staff at Bodegas Hijos de Juan Gil in Jumilla, tapas hopping in the evening and a trip downstairs to "the wall", infamous late night watering hole of wandering souls.

Stay tuned!!

The friends I've made along the way are just as invaluable as the experience itself-- the Murcia 8 are busy at their keyboards, prepping, editing, photo sifting and writing their hearts out, helping to spread the good word on Murcia.  Keep up with fellow writers Ward Kadel (Vinopanion), Meg Maker (Maker's Table), Robert Dwyer (The Wellesley Wine Press), Amy Gross (Vinesleuth), Mary Cressler (Vindulge), Cindy Rynning (Grape Experiences) and Julia Crowley (Wine Julia) as they sip, savor and share their Murcia thoughts with the wine and food world.    




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