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Ep 326: The Best Spanish Wines You've Never Heard of -- Jumilla and Yecla

Wine for Normal People

Release Date: 05/19/2020

Ep 342: Jane Anson on her book Ep 342: Jane Anson on her book "Inside Bordeaux", a fresh look at this classic region

Wine for Normal People

Jane Anson, award-winning writer, the foremost authority on Bordeaux, and one of the nicest, most talented people in wine, returns to the show to discuss her opus, Inside Bordeaux, a must-have book that took years to research and write. It provides a comprehensive look at the region’s true strengths – it’s terroir, farming, grapes, and land, rather than pretty buildings and rich people. It's a fresh look at this famed region and shows why Bordeaux is and always will be a great wine power.

Ep 341: The Grape Miniseries -- Gamay show art Ep 341: The Grape Miniseries -- Gamay

Wine for Normal People

This week we return to our grape miniseries to cover an old Burgundian variety, one of the 20 kids of Gouais Blanc and Pinot, that emerged around the 1300s. We cover its fascinating history; we talk about how it survived defamation by Dukes, centuries later became one of the most popular wines in the world (Beaujolais Nouveau), fell from grace, and now is securing its place as a serious, multifaceted grape that makes complex, interesting wines (especially in its home of Beaujolais, France).

Ep 185, The Remake: 7 Types of (Non-Winery) Wine Clubs show art Ep 185, The Remake: 7 Types of (Non-Winery) Wine Clubs

Wine for Normal People

Of all the shows in the catalog, one has always stuck out as not really fitting in so this week we’re scrapping the old 185 and we’re replacing it with something that is related but more timely, relevant and just plain better!!

Ep 340: UK Wine and its Past, Present, and Future show art Ep 340: UK Wine and its Past, Present, and Future

Wine for Normal People

Although limited in availability, English wine is rising in popularity. Climate change, bedrock soil that's similar to Champagne and Chablis, and growers with know-how have changed England from a producer of mainly plonk wine into a viable wine nation, with sparkling wine leading the charge. Access in the US is limited, so admittedly this is more of an academic exercise, but in the show we discuss the history, as well as the present, and bright future of UK wine. 

Ep 339: Puglia, Italy -- New World Wine From an Old World Country show art Ep 339: Puglia, Italy -- New World Wine From an Old World Country

Wine for Normal People

In this show we tackle the heel of Italy’s boot (and the area that covers a part of the calf!): Puglia (pool-YA), which is in a transition from a bulk wine area to a quality wine area. Taking cues from New World winemakers, with whom they had a lot in common from a terroir POV, Puglia are modernizing and making better wines than ever before. We give an overview of what to try.

Ep 338: Glassware and Gadgets Revisited show art Ep 338: Glassware and Gadgets Revisited

Wine for Normal People

We haven't done a show on this topic for a long time, so here's the 2020 update. We cover what to look for in glassware, decanters, wine fridges, wine openers, preservation systems and more. This is the skinny on what you need and what you don't (and why!).

Ep 337: Feudi di San Gregorio and the Unrivaled Wines of Campania, Italy show art Ep 337: Feudi di San Gregorio and the Unrivaled Wines of Campania, Italy

Wine for Normal People

Dr. Antonio Capaldo, with his brilliance and razor-sharp humor, joins me to discuss the beautiful wines of Campania, Italy -- one of my all-time favorite regions. He is the Chairman of Feudi di San Gregorio and shares his insights on the region, its appellations, what makes the land and grapes special, and the bright future Campania has ahead of it.

Ep 336: Santorini, Greece and it's divine white of Assyrtiko show art Ep 336: Santorini, Greece and it's divine white of Assyrtiko

Wine for Normal People

Santorini is one of Greek wine's guiding lights. The wines from this ancient volcanic island are unlike any other – exhibiting fullness, smoky minerality, and acidity that you won’t find elsewhere. The whites of Assyrtiko are among the best Greece has to offer. The fascinating history and legacy of viticulture will transport you to this lovely Mediterranean paradise. In this show, we take you on the ultimate armchair travel destination: the island of Santorini, a Greek paradise!

Ep 335: The Grape Miniseries-- Gewurztraminer show art Ep 335: The Grape Miniseries-- Gewurztraminer

Wine for Normal People

Gewurztraminer is one of the most distinctive grapes and makes one of the most overtly perfumed, full bodied whites in existence. The lychee, rose, citrus, incense, and smokey notes can be intoxicatingly fantastic or WAY too much. We discuss the grape's origins, its diva personality, and how to get the best wine for you based on the style you prefer.

Ep 334: Hungarian Wine Overview with Zoltan Heimann of Heimann Winery show art Ep 334: Hungarian Wine Overview with Zoltan Heimann of Heimann Winery

Wine for Normal People

Zoltán Heimann has much to teach us about Hungarian wine. He joins to help me present Hungary's wines, keep me on task with the proper pronunciations (the reason it’s taken me so long to cover this country, honestly!), and to give us an overview of what we can expect from Hungary -- including grapes and regions from Tokaji to Villány to Sopron and more. To end, we focus on Zoltan's beloved region of Szekszárd (sex-ARD), known mostly for its famous Kadarka red wine, of which he is a huge champion.

More Episodes

Tucked into a small corner of southeast Spain is one of the greatest sources for delicious, multi-layered, and decadent reds you’ll find. In the province of Murcia, at latitude 39˚N lay two regions of Monastrell (Mourvèdre) production that have quietly churned out wine for more than 3,000 years: Jumilla (joo-ME-yah) and Yecla (YAY-clah).

Today, these regions are magnificent but receive so little press that we can get exquisite bottles that have the fullness, richness and depth for less than US$20.

In the podcast, we take you through the wine history of the region --from the early days with the Phoenicians to the Romans and then the Moors, and then a few strange brushes with the phylloxera root louse that at first propelled the region’s wines, then decimated the land and ultimately saved this area from a fate of nasty bulk production to make it a quiet haven of powerful reds.


We discuss the conditions in Murcia, discuss Bullas, a small Denominacíon de Origen and then we move to the big guns of this area: Jumilla and Yecla.



Jumilla is the best area quality in Murcia and also makes the most wine. Vineyards are spread across a wide valleys and plateaus surrounded by mountains. A few geological and climate facts:

  • The high elevation of the vineyards -- between 1,300 -2,600 ft (400 -800 m) make it possible for grapes to cool at night and maintain acidity.
  • The soils here are dark and have a high limestone content. They’re permeable but have good moisture retaining properties, allowing the vines during the harsh summer droughts.
  • This is a very difficult place to grow things – it’s a harsh, dry, continental climate that is tempered a bit by Mediterranean breezes but is brutal in its dry heat.

Jumilla is one of Spain’s oldest DOs – its historical legacy as a high-quality wine producer is well known in its native land. It now makes whites, reds, and rosés, although the reds are the flagship for the region.

  • Red grapes include: Monastrell, Tempranillo (called Cencibel here), Garnacha Tinta, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. The French varietals were added to the Monastrell to create more dimension in the finished wine (read: international appeal). This has been critically acclaimed, however some of it muddies the character of the grape.
  • White grapes include: Aíren, Macabeo, Pedro Ximenez, Malvasia, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Mosacatel de Grano Menudo
  • Although not mentioned in the podcast, the Jumilla DO has several areas it draws from: Jumilla, Montealegre, Fuenteálamo, Tobarra, Hellín, Ontur, and Albatana. 40% of the wine is from Jumilla proper.

Monastrell represents 85% of the vines planted and 80% of any blend must be this grape. The character of the wine is superb:  it tastes like dark fruit, earth, and minerals with a brambly, gamy character. With age, these flavors mellow to be more like dark soil, coffee and spice.


Although it isn’t prevalent, Jumilla makes rosé from 80% Monastrell too -- in the best versions it’s similar to the rosé of Bandol, in Provence, France with some acidity and tannin and, from a careful producer, the opportunity to potentially have a longer life than 1 year.


Modern technology, good farming and a consistent climate mean there isn’t a lot of vintage variation here although the region does have aging classifications similar to Rioja:

  • Vino joven ("young wine") or Sin crianza: little, if any, wood aging.
  • Crianza:
    • Reds: aged for 1 year total -- at least 6 months in oak, 6 months in the bottle.
    • Whites and rosés: at least 1 year with at least 4 months in oak.
  • Reserva:
    • Reds: aged for at least 2 years -- at least 12 months in oak, 12 months in the bottle.
    • Whites and rosés: aged at least 18 months with at least 6 months in oak.
  • Gran Reserva: Made only above average vintages.
    • Reds: 4 years aging, 12 months of which in oak and a minimum of 36 months in the bottle.
    • Whites and rosés: aged for at least 4 years with at least 6 months in oak


Wine Map of Spain


Towards the end of the show, we discuss the smallest and northernmost wine zone in Murcia, Yecla. This area is landlocked by other DOs: Jumilla DO to the southwest, Almansa DO to the north, and Alicante DO to the east. It’s 50 miles (80km) inland and represents a transition from more coastal Mediterranean influences to hotter, arid continental conditions.


Yecla is similar to Jumilla in that its altitude allows the grapes to maintain acidity at night, creating balance in the wines.

  • White grapes: Airen, Macabeo, Merseguera, Malvasia, Moscatel de Grano Menudo, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay. These wines are usually blended. A small amount of sparkling wine is also made here.
  • Red grapes: similar to those of Jumilla, but the blends must have a least 85% Monastrell. The area has transitioned from making a light, very fruity red to making more serious reds with spice mineral and red fruit notes, after seeing the success Jumilla has enjoyed.

If you haven’t tried these wines yet, get on it. They will become your new go-to and a total revelation for your palate (and wallet!).


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