Yecla, heck yeah! Visit to Evine.

Just recently I’ve been invited to accompany some of  Joan C. Martín’s Aula Vinícola field trips. On 22 September the visit was to Bodegas y Viñedos Evine in the Denominación de Origen Yecla, in Murcia just over the northwestern border of Alicante. I’ve written about the wines before, so I’ll talk more about the day and the place.

We set off at 8 a.m. as our host, Felipe, was busy harvesting his monastrell grapes and had said that he could only be available between 10 and 12. We arrived pretty much on time at just after 10 despite some intended and unintended detours — David, our excellent photographer and guide, was keen to show us the local areas of interest. Felipe was in the functional new warehousey winemaking area, and gave us the usual look at the stainless steel deposits and things, then he suggested we head over to the recently refurbished casa rural for elevenses. I should say that this lovely old house surrounded by vineyards looks ideal for a rustic weekend getaway at any time of year. There is a huge fireplace for winter and the thick stone walls gave us respite from the unseasonal late September heat Spain is experiencing this year.

There’s something about these almuerzos in or near bodegas that makes them a real feast. There’s the guilty pleasure of drinking wine in the morning, accompanied by the fact that these morning meals have developed to refuel hungry farmworkers who’ve put in several hours hard work after a dawn start. We didn’t let our sedentary morning hinder us, and got stuck in to the local delicacy of “tortas fritas” (a sort of fried unleavened bread not dissimilar to Mexican tortillas) with cured meats, anchovies and other good things. The organic Evine monastrell rosado was as effervescent and invigorating as ever, and we were soon moving on to red wine in the form of the bodega’s taut and tasty Llano Quintanillas 2010 (100% monastrell).

Then we headed off to the vineyards, where we had our photos taken while we  pretended to help with the grape harvest, while giving unspoken thanks that we were not sweltering in gloves and overalls while hand-picking in the sun like the tireless and cheerful mainly Ecuadorean team.

We were passed by Felipe’s father in his tractor transporting grapes, and there was mention of a grandfather. The family has made wine here for generations, and it shows in the natural, unfussy and relaxed style of their wines.

I picked up a few bottles of the amazing value rosado to brighten up a friend’s birthday that evening and the group followed David for a quick tour of the ancient town of Yecla, described so vividly by Azorín. Then it was off for a quite spectacular lunch at Restaurante Ankora, where we were delighted to have Felipe join us despite his harvest responsibilities.

We didn’t get up from lunch until after six, which is the sign of a good meal and a good day. I’m afraid I was unable to do that evening’s birthday dinner justice, but I was certainly put in the right mood by Evine and Yecla.