Stage 9: Torrevieja to Cumbre del Sol

Moscatell Grapes

Wines of Alicante and the Costa Blanca

Today’s stage is flat, flat, flat, all the way to the 126 km marker and the Cat 2 Alto de Puig Llorença, through the intermediate sprint, and then back up the Puig Llorença to the tip-top mountain finish.  This is the second day in which the riders are climbing the same peak twice – is there a shortage of formidable, dangerous hilltops in Southern Spain?  Anyway . . .

The peloton will surely enjoy today’s seaside route as they leave the region of Murcia and enter Alicante and the Costa Blanca, one of Spain’s most beautiful sites.  All along the route, we will get to enjoy stunning, white stone cliffs that jut into the Mediterranean, interrupting the lazy line of bright sandy beaches with a pop of drama every now and then.  It’s a place where almonds grow just about everywhere, and it makes quite a hospitable home for the Moscatel or Muscat grape (see photo above), traditionally known for simple, sweet wines but now, in the hands of modern winemakers, capable of producing light, crisp wines that are only moderately sweet.  And winemaking itself is getting a makeover in this agricultural hub of Southeastern Spain.

El Poble Nou de Benitatxell, located within the Alicante DO and the sub-region of Marina Alta, is home to the BioMoscatell Project, an effort to foster a sustainable approach to grape cultivation that benefits the growers as well as the region’s economy.  Currently almost 80% of ALL plantings – not just grapes – in this area are dedicated to Moscatell, and it is all dry-farmed (i.e., no irrigation).  This project, a collaboration between the regional government and local farmers, has recently eliminated all pesticide use and is now focused on the challenge of organic grape production.

Vino MoraigThe website describes the wines of Vino Moraig (see photo, left) as having aromas of lychee, mango and aniseed, with delicate fruit notes on the palate.  While the wines may be limited right now to local markets, the project itself is quite interesting and encouraging.  If you’re interested, please go to the site and read more about the wines and winemakers.

Note:  the link takes you to the Spanish-language site but click on the British flag icon in the upper right corner  to get to the English-language page.  Scroll down the Gastronomia menu, click on Vino Moraig,  and you’ll see info about the project!