Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dinner with Spanish Winemaker Antonio Jose Bleda Jimenez, Bodegas Bleda, at Taberna del Alabardero in Washington DC, USA

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Antonio Jose Bleda Jimenez at Taberna del Alabardero in Washington DC

Howard Friedman, Spanish wine aficionado, importer and wine tour guide, put on a great wine maker dinner featuring the wines of Bodegas Bleda, with owner Antonio Jose Bleda Jimenez, who was accompanied by his fiancée Helena Espinosa de Rueda, at Taberna del Alabardero in Washington DC.

Bodegas Bleda

Bodegas Bleda is a fourth-generation family winery that was founded in 1915 by Don Antonio Bleda in the small town of Jumilla, situated in Eastern Spain. The vineyard area totals 250 hectares. Bodeags Bleda exports most of its wines - only 5% is sold in Spain – to the EU (30%), the US (35%), Asia and Russia. Annual production is 60.000 cases.


Most of the vineyard is planted with Monastrell grapes. Antonio Jose Bleda Jimenez: “Monastrell is most suited for Jumilla’s environment. The grapes require a warm climate to ripen and mature and are able to withstand drought conditions. Its fruity concentration, sugars and high level of tannins give our wines an elegant and characteristic personality”.

Additional red grape varieties include Tempranillo and Syrah. A field of Cabernet Sauvignon was planted in March 2011. The white wine varieties are Sauvignon Blanc, Macabeo and Airen.

Pictures: Dinner

Airen has been grown in Spain since the time of the Moors and is the single most planted vine in the world. Its durability under extreme temperatures and dry climates as well as a high yield has made it a popular Spanish choice. It was traditionally used for brandy and heavy, oxidised wines, but modern technology now permits the production of crisp, slightly neutral dry wines marked for early consumption.

Macabeo is another native Spanish grape that is grown in Spain and southern France. It is traditionally used to make cava (sparkling wine).


Antonio Jose Bleda Jimenez: “Our current headquarters is located in the Valley of Omblancas at an altitude of 650 meters and is overlooked by the Castle of Jumilla.” In 2008, almost 100 after it was founded, the winery was moved to the  Valley of Omblancas, where it is surrounded by vineyards at an altitude of 650 meters.

Antonio Jose Bleda Jimenez: “In our winery’s facilities all the tanks, which vary in size from 23,000 to 100,000 litres, are made of stainless steel with temperature control. Our vinification tanks allow us to control each step of the process so we are able to carry out a perfect production of wines.”

Bodegas Bleda ages some of the wines in French and American oak.

Antonio Jose Bleda Jimenez

Antonio Jose Bleda Jimenez is a lawyer by training. He joined his family’s winery in 2009 and is now the General Manager.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller, Antonio Jose Bleda Jimenez and his Fiancee Helena Espinosa de Rueda

Howard Friedman

Howard Friedman is well known to the customers of the Washington DC wine retail store Calvert and Woodley, because he used to work there for many years. A few years ago, after retirement from the retail business, Howard he founded South River Imports and started to import Spanish wine. Also, once a year in September, he takes a group of not more than 20 people to Spain for a wineries tour. This year, his third tour is coming up. If you are interested check out the Calvert and Woodley page.

Picture: Howard Friedman Talking about his Forthcoming Tour to Spain

Taberna del Alabardero

The Taberna del Alabardero is a renowned Basque restaurant in Madrid owned by Luis Lesama - a Madrid classic. The Taberna Del Alabardero in Washington DC (opened in 1989) is his only venture abroad (after Luis Lesama closed Seattle); it is arguably the best Spanish restaurant on the East Coast of the US.

In addition to the superb menu and wine list, the decor is impressive and almost screams you will be treated like royalty. The dinner took place in one of the private rooms that feature dark walls, gold embellishments and a pretty chandelier.

The dinner was prepared by Chef Javier Romero, who came directly to Washington DC  from Madrid about 2 years ago, and was ably orchestrated by Sommelier Gustavo Iniesta.

Picture: Chef Javier Romero and  Sommelier Gustavo Iniesta

The Dinner


Gambas Gabardina – Tempura Shrimp

Chorizo Delicatessen – Spanish Sausage over Tomato and Bread Toast

Mejillones en su Vinagreta – Mussels in its own Vinegar Sauce

Castillo de Jumilla White 2011 D.O. Jumilla

Grape varieties: Sauvignon Blanc, Macabeo and Airen

Tasting notes: A pale yellow with intense hints of green color. It has a robust aroma which is elegant, open and diverse, with complexities reminiscent of green and meadows and young ripening fruit. It is well structured on the tasting, fresh and soft, tasty with fruity notes and good aftertaste.

First Appetizer

Bisque de Cangrejos, Aire de Manchego y Crutones al Tomillo – Maryland Crab Bisque with Manchego Cheese Foam and Croutons

Castillo de Jumilla Rose 2011 D.O. Jumilla

Grape: Monastrell

Tasting notes: A hazy strawberry pink color. It has a clean and powerful bouquet with an intense aroma of fresh fruit: strawberry and raspberry; with a sophisticated, fruity character. On tasting it is lively, fresh, full of flavor and well balanced. It is well structured. It has a full, fresh aroma and pleasant, fruity after-taste.

Second Appetizer

Emperador con Guiso Marinero de Chipirones y Verduras Crujientes – Baked Swordfish in a Squid Stew with Crunchy Vegetables

Castillo de Jumilla Monastrell Tempranillo 2011 D.O. Jumilla

Grapes varieties: 50% Monastrell 50% Tempranillo

Tasting Notes: Deep cherry red, this wine has a bouquet of mature fruit, reminiscent of berries and liquorice. On tasting it is flavorsome and well-balanced, and its moderate acidity and lively tannins stand out in the first sip. It has an elegant final flavor with a lasting after-taste which invites a deep enjoyment of the tasting.

Second Course

Sobre Carrillera de Ternera Estofada, Maiz Crujiente y Frijoles en Ensalada – Braised Veal Cheek topped with a Crisp Cracker. Black Beans Salad

Castillo de Jumilla Reserva 2005 Monastrell D.O. Jumilla

90% Monastrell 10 % Tempranillo

Crianza: Twenty four months in French and American oak barrels. It finished by fining its structure with the bottle remaining for eighteen months, before being released into the market.

Tasting Notes: Magnificent cherry red on a ruby background with dense legs. Complex bouquet with aromas of red berries, stewed fruit and toasty hints. Just the right amount of spicy woody notes. Excellent in the mouth with pleasant tannins and good acidity.

Main Course

Lomo de Ciervo con Arroz Cremoso de Boletus e Higos en Salsa de Madeira – Grilled Venison Loin over a bed of Creamy Mushroom Rice topped with Fresh Figs and Madeira Port Sauce

Divus 2009 Monastrell D.O. Jumilla

100% Monastrell, barrel aged

The grapes come from old vineyards of Monastrell, harvested during the first week of October 2010. Long maceration of the skinnings of the grape for 21 days.

Crianza of the wine: in new French Allier oak barrels of medium toast during nine months.

Tasting notes: Very intense and deep cherry red color. Aromas of good intensity with blackberry and blackcurrant, and a pleasant background with new and spicy wood flavor. In the mouth is tasty, rich and with balsamic notes, very powerful with good acidity and noble with well-joined tannins. Ample and remarkable after-tasting with very bright nose aromas.


Sobre un nido de Algonon, Huevo de Chocolate Relleno de Frutos Rojos con Arandanos – Chocolate Egg with Red Fruits and Blueberries on Textures over Cotton Candy Nest

Amatus Dulce Monastrell and Syrah 2011 D.O. Jumilla

Red Sweet Wine

Grapes Varieties: 85% Monastrell 15% Syrah

How as the wine made sweet? Antonio Jose Bleda Jimenez: “We harvested late and stopped the fermentation at an early stage. Alcohol was then added. Basically, it was made the way Port is made.”
Tasting Notes: Dark red cherry colour with violet borders. Powerful aroma, red and ripe fruit. Tasty, creamy, sweet, ripe tannins, plenty of sweetness and intense fruit concentration.

schiller-wine: Related Posting

In the Kitchen: Chef Javier Romero at Taberna del Alabardero in Washington DC, USA

Alejandro Luna Beberide from Bodegas y Vinedos Luna Beberide in Spain at the Taberna del Alabardero in Washington DC

Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta Winemaker Dinner at Taberna del Alabardero in Washington DC, USA/Spain

DC Food Bloggers Happy Hour at Taberna del Alabardero in Washington DC, US

Welcoming Winemaker Ruben Saenz Lopez and his Bodegas San Prudencio Wines from Rioja in Spain to Washington DC

Meeting Didier Soto and Tasting His Biodynamic Mas Estela Wines from Catalonia

Meeting Up-and-coming Winemaker Rita Ferreira Marques from the Duoro Area in Portugal at Screwtop Winebar in Clarendon, Virginia

Meeting Winemaker Yolanda Viadero from Valduero Vineyards in Ribera del Duero and in Toro, Spain, and Tasting Her Excellent Wines

The Wines of Bodegas Epifanio Rivera in Spain


  1. Hi Christian,

    Yes I saw your comments and pictures in your blog and also in facebook. Thank you so much. We enjoyed a lot with the food, with friends and with the wines as well.

    Sorry for my late answer but I was working in NY until last Monday.

    Warms Regards.

    Antonio José Bleda Jiménez.


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