The Wizard of Oz and his yellow brick road to Jumilla

There’s no shortage of interesting personalities in the wine industry – some you see often in the media and others quietly go about their business. Both kinds are fuelled by their passion for the industry and sometimes I miss out on some of the best wines in Australia, or the world, because I have never heard of their brand.

Fortunately though sometimes fate steps in and we meet people who give us opportunities to taste wines that tantalise and enchant us. Chris Ringland, a neighbour and friend, is one of those people.

I first met Chris many years ago and was immediately impressed by his humility. There are many larger than life egos in the wine industry and indeed in the world in general. Chris does not have a huge ego and that is so refreshing.

I had heard much about Chris and he was certainly a mover and shaker in the industry producing high alcohol but successful wines. His wines were and still are very successful in the US.

Back then I was yet to taste any Ringland wines but the softly spoken, knowlegable fellow spoke so passionately about his wines that my interest grew and I looked forward to seeing what the Ringland hype was about.

I was not disappointed and over the years I have had the opportunity to taste a selection of his wines and enjoyed them very much. They may not be everyone’s cup of tea but whenever I taste them my mouth truly comes alive. I am not a wine tasting expert by any means but I know what I like and that’s what matters to me, irrespective of awards and reviews.

Chris works his magic so well that I have now nicknamed him the Wizard of Oz even though he is New Zealand born. Between jetting around the world doing his consulting work and sales, he truly is at home in the beautiful Barossa Ranges region of South Australia and has been for many years. Australia should be as proud of him (as our adopted son) as we are of Russell Crowe. Both have put Australia on the world map for all the right reasons.

Recently Chris joined us for dinner and he brought a bottle of 2013 Bodegas El Nido – yet another fine wine that he has produced. It was stunning and my first words to him on tasting it were that it was the Humphrey Bogart of wines and I meant it! Sheer class! Ironic that Bogart had a lifelong disgust of anything pretentious, fake or phoney because like Bogart himself, this wine is anything but a pretender. It is truly magnificent.

The 2013 Bodegas El Nido is from the Jumilla region of Spain. Jumilla was hit hard by phylloxera around 1989 and joined the legion of Spanish vineyards that were lost and needed to be replanted.

Jumilla, Spain

Jumilla, Spain

Jumilla took this opportunity to modernize their plantings and instead of replacing the lost vines with the same varieties initially planted, some wisely chose to plant the native grape monastrell which was more suited to the drought-prone climate. Others planted a diverse range of permitted foreign grape varieties, including cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot. This foresight has certainly rewarded the region which is now having great success at producing exceptional wines.

Jumilla is situated in southeastern Spain and most of the grapes are grown on a plateau surrounded by mountains. Drought is often a threat but fortunately risk of frost is low. The continental climate is well suited to wine production as are the sandy or loamy soils (that hold water well) which are composed primarily of limestone tending to have a high pH.

Monastrell Vine

Monastrell Vine

Back to the 2013 Bodegas El Nido, the grapes for this wine are made from 12 Ha of Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards and 32 Ha of low-yielding old Monastrell. Harvested with baskets to prevent bruising, the best grapes from the bunches are chosen from the triage tables.

After 24 months in new French and American Oak barrels, this sensuous 70{8ccef8eb3325e15ac11d8662ddd9f1fc1a9d929405bc6b49a8f585b2fe707183} Cabernet Sauvignon and 30{8ccef8eb3325e15ac11d8662ddd9f1fc1a9d929405bc6b49a8f585b2fe707183} Monastrell wine is then bottled and released to the world.

With its connotations (to me, anyway) of Humphrey Bogart and film noir, this is a wine to find and try but don’t expect that task to be easy as it is a relatively small volume wine.

Humphrey

Humphrey

 

The Wizard has certainly worked his unique magic on these grapes and the whole package is remarkable – from the heavy impressively labelled bottle to the old berries/pipe tobacco/vanilla bean notes – it is certainly a job well done. Chris’ perfectionism and indelible wizardry is stamped all over this wine and I love it.

Vineyard Evaluation

Vineyard Evaluation

You can read more about Bodegas El Nido here: http://bodegaselnido.com/en/vinos/el-nido/

©Marie Linke 2016

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