Wine Road Less Traveled

Exciting wine regions you’ve never heard of

We are all familiar with the popular and famous wine producing areas around the world, or at least many of them. In France, Burgundy and Bordeaux top the list; Chianti and Barolo in Italy; California in the US, Rioja and Ribera in Spain.

However, over the past two decades or so, wineries in lesser-known areas have moved from producing bulk, uninteresting table wines to making refined, good to great quality wines, much cheaper than the more famous areas.

Today I would like to introduce you to Yecla on the Mediterranean coast of Spain.

Located 96km away from Murcia, the capital of the region, Yecla has been producing wine for over 2,000 years. Long, hot, dry summers, mild winters, and the proximity to the Mediterranean Sea makes Yecla ideal for grape growing and wine making, with vines planted between 500 and 800 meters above sea level

There are 15 authorized grapes grown in Yecla, with the most popular being Monastrell, also known as the “grape of the Mediterranean.” Tempranillo, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot for reds, as well as Macabeo, Airén, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for whites, are some of the most commonly planted grapes.

The wines produced in the area of Yecla are regulated by Yecla Origin Denomination. Although the planted area is rather big, there are only seven wineries producing wines in Yecla. Of them only one, Bodegas Castaño, has its wines available in Vietnam.

Castaño wines are a great example of amazing wines, produced in a wine region that not many people know about, and sold at low prices, making them some of the best value-for-money wines.

Hécula, the star of the middle range portfolio, and continuously awarded between 90 and 92 points by Spanish and international experts, delivers a beautiful expression of the local grape Monastrell (Mourvedre). It’s a powerful wine, with good complexity and length, and definitely one of my favorites when I discovered it in Spain a long time ago.

However nowadays, Solanera, also from the Castaño winery, tends to be my favorite wine from Yecla. Another fantastic, inexpensive wine, it has been chosen by expert Robert Parker as a top three best value-for-money wine in the world, and is given 92-94 points. The blend of Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, made from grapes coming from old vines, delivers a beautifully complex wine, elegant and charming.

A Bordeaux or Barolo with 90+ points would probably break the wallet for most of us. But this family-run winery brings us two fantastic wines at a ridiculously low price, so that we can have premium wine every day without worrying about the cost; one of the beauties of making wine outside the famous producing areas!

BIOAlfredo de la Casa has been organizing wine tastings for over 20 years and has published three wine books, including the Gourmand award winner for best wine education book. You can reach him at www.wineinvietnam.com.

Share this story, choose your platform!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on tumblr
Share on google
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on vk
Share on email
About the author:

Leave a Comment

Drink, Lounge, Be Merry

By Marco Bouwer There’s a classy new meetup venue in town, a 1920’s lounge bar with plush leather couches, swingy jazz tunes played from a gramophone player, and a wonderfully reserved atmosphere. Tucked in the welcoming bottom floor of the popular House of Barbaard, Saigon’s exclusive barbershop for gentlemen, is the Ministry of Men lounge

Read More »

Delightful Coffee Shops in D7

Text by Marco Bouwer Ho Chi Minh City does not take a step back for any city when it comes to coffee culture. It is home to thousands of independent coffee shops, which is a treat if you’re used to a city overran by the big international coffee brands. There’s adventure in discovering unique little

Read More »

Behind the Label

Is French wine about to hit bottom? France has the worldwide reputation for producing the best, and usually, the most expensive wines in the world. The five first growths of Bordeaux, also known as the Grand Crus, even though they are mass produced in the hundreds of thousands of bottles, easily reach astronomic prices around

Read More »

From a Virtual Restaurant to your Dining Table

No longer must restaurateurs rent space for a dining room to serve diners, Oi speaks to Rukmini Makkar about her new business What inspired you to start FEURO, and what does ” FEURO ” mean? Saigon is a vibrant melting pot of cultures, and has a wide array of delicious cuisines to offer, the founders

Read More »

Eat More Vegetables

Exploring Vietnam’s best vegetarian ingredients For many, Vietnam is a paradise for vegetarians of all kinds. Restaurants roll out a vegetarian menu for the first and 15th of every month for those looking for a bit of soul purification. Home cooks revel in a huge assortment of fruits and vegetables, changing with the season. And

Read More »

A Good Rose Is Good

Rosé rules. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Rosé wines are some of the most undervalued wines in the world. There are no particular reasons for this other than perhaps ignorance and misunderstanding them. In Asia, rosé wines are considered bad because “they are made from the bad red and white wines

Read More »