By Paul Caputo

Once a farming town and today a furniture-making centre, Yecla is surrounded by nearly 8,325 hectares of vineyards. This densely planted appellation in the north east of Murcia is home to a robust red wine made either entirely or in part from the Monastrell grape. Some producers believe that classic Yecla should be made exclusively from this thick skinned variety, known widely as Mourvèdre, but a range of styles have gained popularity. Blends often include Garnacha, but also international varieties such as Syrah, Merlot and Petit Verdot. There are also some excellent value rosé wines made here.

The appellation enjoys a curious microclimate. Although technically continental, conditions are often tempered by its southern position. Even so, rainfall is low and the area is increasingly prone to the hot, dry conditions that characterise Spain’s interior. It is this long, sunny climate that makes the late ripening Monastrell variety ideally suited to conditions.

Consequently altitudes range from between 400 metres and 800 metres, making for plenty of diversity amongst the wines. Arguably the most interesting come from ‘Campo Arriba’, literally translated as ‘the high fields’. Here, at 700 metres upwards, the soils are predominantly limestone with around 15% clay. Lower down, in the ‘Campo Abajo’ we find a slight majority of clay over limestone, with a small amount of sand as well.