Fondillón – a Five-Hundred Year History
Until recently the wine growing areas of Valencia and Murcia, were best known for Fondillón, a sweet red dessert wine which has a five-hundred year history, and for sweet white dessert wines made from luscious moscatel grapes. However, with the increasing modernization of wine production, other wines are now gaining deserved recognition inside and outside of Spain.
Fondillón is a red wine made from monastrell grapes which are “toasted'” under the sun before fermentation. The resulting wine is aged for up to eight years in oak barrels. The process, which is similar to that used for sherry, slowly oxidizes the wine which can vary in colour from amber to red, depending on its age.
The Salvador Poveda bodega, close to the town of Monóver has an excellent example of this wine in the shape of its Fondillón Gran Reserva 1980. The Bocopa Bodega in Elda is also well known for its multiple award-winning Fondillón Alone which is a mahogany coloured wine and is relatively dry on the palate being very fragrant and intense.
Fondillón de Alicante is considered by the European Union to be one of only four luxury wines alongside the established favourites of Champagne, Sherry and Port.
The ‘Best’ Wine in Alicante
The Sierra Salinas Bodega outside Yecla produces a very exclusive wine of which only 1600 individually numbered bottles were produced in 2004 and have now been released onto the market. This wine is called “Salinas 1237”. The significance of the number is that it is the height in metres of the summit of the Sierra Salinas mountain range. This wine is made from a 50/50 blend of Garnacha Tintorera and Cabernet Sauvignon. Salinas 1237 is rated at 94 points in the Guía Peñin, making it the highest rated wine in the Alicante wine growing area.
Organic wines from Spain are becoming increasingly popular. The Casa de la Ermita bodega, between Jumilla and Pinoso, started to produce its first wines in 1999. It was the first winery in the Region of Murcia to produce organic wines. The Bodega owns 150 hectares of vineyards, with the main variety again being the ubiquitous Monastrell.
Bodegas Los Pinos has gone even further. Situated in the beautiful Alhorines valley close to the small town of Fontanars del Alforins, it was the first Bodega in the Valencia region to use only organic grapes in its wine production. Today wines from the Bodega are renowned medal winners and over 90% of its 300,000 litre annual production goes overseas.
Jumilla – “Town of wine”
Jumilla is famous for its wine and for its wine festival, which takes place every year during the second half of August. Jumilla has its own ‘”Denominación de Origen” and boasts some 50 wine bodegas. The ‘”Denominación de Origen” is part of a regulatory classification system primarily for Spanish wines (similar to the French Appelations) but it is also used for other foodstuffs such as honey, meats and condiments.
Founded in 1934 Bodegas San Isidro is one of the largest bodegas in the Jumilla wine growing area. It operates as a cooperative with 750 shareholders. The Bodega processes, produces and markets the wine from these shareholders. The Bodega also produces olive oil from olives supplied by the same shareholders. San Isidro is a big winery producing some 10 to 15 million litres of wine a year with about half of this production going for export all over the world especially to Europe, Asia and the USA. The Bodega even supplies Sangria to the Disney Group!