Location of the Levante Region
Levante is the eastern coastal region of the Iberian Peninsula. This area includes the Valencian Community (Valencia, Castellón and Alicante provinces), as well as Murcia to the south.
Denominations of Origin in Levante
The Denominations of Origin (DO) in this region are:
- Alicante – The climate in Alicante is hot both on the coast and in the inland mountains. Grapes are grown in the sandy soil of the coastal zone, as well as limestone soil of the higher inland elevations. The wines from Alicante include aged, full-bodied reds and roses that have a high alcoholic content, but the region is also famous for sweet dessert wines and the rancio style of wine called Fondillon. (Rancio is an intensely sweet wine, usually containing more than 16% alcohol.) In the last decade, as the quality has improved, interest has increased in the younger wines as well as the white wines of the region.
- Valencia – This DO is located near the city of Valencia and has a long history wine production. There are four separate areas of production: Alto Túria is located in the mountainous northeast, and produces fresh and fruity whites. Clariano is in the south and produces light, fragrant whites and full ruby reds. Valentino is located in the north and central area of the province and produces light, fruity whites and smooth reds. Muscat or Moscatel area is located inside the Valentino zone and produces muscatel wine, as well as drier whites and sparkling wines.
- Jumilla - Jumilla DO is located in Murcia, after the city of Jumilla and has had a long history of producing high quality red wines. Although wine production in the region dates back to Roman times, it has an interesting history. When France’s vineyards were suffering from an outbreak of phylloxera, a devastating disease that attacks grape vines, Jumilla experienced a boom. An influx of French wine-making immigrants helped improve quality and production in the area. Unfortunately, in 1989 Jumilla suffered greatly when producers were forced to re-plant many of vineyards due to phylloxera, but since then there has been a revitalization of the area. Jumilla red wines are generally full-bodied, of high alcoholic content and deep red color, made from the Monastrell grape, while the area’s white wines are light and fresh, made with the Airen grapes.
- Bullas – Named after the city of Bullas, Murcia. Although wines have been produced here for a very long time, it is one of the newest DO’s in Murcia, granted in 1994. Wines here are produced in hills and valleys where the altitude can vary greatly – from sea level to about 2,500 feet. The Monastrell grape gives the reds and roses produced in this region a distinctive flavor. The typical grape varieties grown are Monastrell, Garnacha and Tempranillo, but Petit Verdot, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Macabeo and Sauvignon Blanc have also been introduced as well.
- Utiel-Requena - Utiel-Requena DO takes its name from two neighboring cities – Utiel and Requena and is located inland, where the grapes are grown at altitudes between approximately 2100 and 2700 feet. The Bobal grape accounts for about 80% of production and is thought to be native of this area. It is grown very few places in the world, makings the reds and roses of the Utiel-Requena rather unique. Besides Bobal, red grapes grown here include Tempranillo, Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a new-comer to the region – Syrah. Almost 95% of the wines crafted in this region are reds. White grapes grown here are Macabeo, Merseguera, Planta Nova or Tardana, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
- Yecla - The Yecla DO is an ancient wine-making region, named for the city of Yecla is located in the heart of farm country in inland Murcia. It is surrounded by other DOs, including Jumilla, Almansa and Alicante. Vineyards are located at high altitudes and the climate ranges from very hot summers to mild winters. Monastrell is the most widely cultivated grape, along with Garnacha, Tempranillo, Merseguera, Macabeo and Airén. Wines produced here are pleasant, smooth reds, roses and clarets, but some of the dessert wines are excellent, too.
Sources for this article include www.winesfromspain.com, the web site of El Instituto Español de Comercio Exterior (ICEX), as well as the web sites of each Denomination of Origin mentioned above.