Jumilla, a world-class vineyard
JUMILLA, A WORLD-CLASS VINEYARD
First, the bad news. Though we love the wines produced there, we must begin by admitting that “Jumilla” is not a particularly glamorous designation. The name certainly does not possess the flair and chic of French designations such as Châteauneuf du Pape or Sauternes, which immediately bring to our minds images of sumptuous palaces and legendary wines. Likewise, Jumilla lacks the musicality and sheer magic of Italian names such as Brunello de Montalcino, the mere sound of which evokes images of Renaissance art and exquisite Palladian villas overlooking smooth Tuscan hills.
Yes, this is all very true. And yet, and yet...
Now the good news. Did you know, for instance, that some of the best and most prestigious wines in the history of the world have been produced in the region of Jumilla?
Do you think that's an overstatement? Fair enough. Don't take my word for it. Let's get down to the facts.
Jumilla is a Spanish Designation of Origin located in the Southeast of Spain. The region has over 30,000 hectares of vineyard, and it occupies a transition area between the Mediterranean Coast and the Castilla La Mancha plateau. The region is home to a world-class red variety: the Monastrell grape. Like some other indigenous Spanish grapes such as Grenache and Carignan, though, Monastrell is better known by its French name, Mourvèdre. That name, incidentally, is the French adaptation of "Morviedro", which in turn is the old apellation of Sagunto, a pretty coastal city belonging to the southern Spanish province of Valencia.
The Monastrell grape produces bold, vigorous and age-worthy wines that display a complex array of notes: black fruit, spices, violets, wet earth, minerals, balsam, and sometimes even black truffles. It is from this mighty grape, incidentally, that Fondillón was made. A semi-sweet wine crafted from overripe grapes aged for a minimum of ten years, the Fondillón or Alicante wine -as it was known in the English literature since the XVIth century-, enjoyed a tremendous reputation for many years and was one of the most sought-after wines in the world. Drunk by kings and emperors, the wine was, most importantly, praised and immortalised in the works of writers such as Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky and Dumas.
Thus, today we present you six wines made from a grape that the Bard of Avon himself found worthy of praise. Come on! It's Monastrell time!
We begin with Infiltrado 2013, by the Hacienda del Carche winery. A blend of Monastrell, Syrah and Grenache, the wine was not filtered prior to its bottling in order to preserve its "raw", natural character. This explains the peculiar shape of the bottle, with one shoulder higher than the other: When you pour the wine, any potential sediment will be deposited there, so you will enjoy the experience of drinking the wine as it were fresh from the barrel without having to ingest the remnant particles. A merry, uncomplicated wine, Infiltrado 2013 has an intense cherry colour with violet tinges. On the nose, it displays aromas of red fruit, strawberry candy and some lactic notes. The palate is fresh, with touches of spices and some hints of sweets and cherry.
Célebre Roble 2011, by Bodegas Crápula, is one of our latest acquisitions. Crafted by a company that produces extremely good values, the wine is a blend of Syrah and Monastrell fermented at a temperature of 28ºC in stainless steel tanks, and aged for 3 months in French and American oak barrels. Clarified with egg whites before its bottling, it has a high cherry robe with a violet hue at the rim. The nose is full of red and black fruits and lollipops, while the palate displays fresh flavours of balsam, cassis and plums. Oak ageing passes unnoticed, acidity is crisp and tannins are ripe and yummy. Long and well-balanced, it has a long finish that leaves traces of menthol and undergrowth.
The Honoro Vera wine is no stranger to us, for we already know its remarkable varietal Grenache red from Calatayud. In the region of Jumilla, the winery crafts the sensational Honoro Vera Organic 2013, a certified organic Monastrell vinified in stainless steel tanks for 15 days at a temperature of 26ºC. It has a ruby-coloured robe with a garnet rim, and on the nose shows loads of red fruit, Jamaican pepper, eucalyptus and mint, along with baked apples, rosemary, juniper, aniseed,... The palate is fresh, with strawberries, pomegranates and some hints of arbutus. Well-structured, with velvety tannins and a persistent finish. Very pure.
From a winery that we held in high esteem, Casa de la Ermita Idílico 2008 is an original mixture of Monastrell and Petit Verdot aged for 13 months in 225-litre American and French oak barrels. A wine that greatly improves after a prolonged aeration, it has a high, ruby-coloured robe with a red -brick rim and a nose that shows notes of red berries, cocoa, vainilla and coco. Bold and meaty, the palate repeats the fruity and spicy sensations of the nose, but adds some memorable, intriguing hints of tobacco, moss, wet earth and ashes over a mineral background. As the wine opens, we discover notes of redcurrant, sloe, liquorice, mushrooms and fennel. Tremendously complex and rewarding.
Another product crafted by the Crápula winery, Dulce Crápula 2010 is a little jewel, as it is one of the very few sweet wines produced solely from Monastrell. The grapes were cold-soaked at a temperature of 3ºC for 3 days, then fortified with alcohol and macerated for a further 6 days. A truly singular wine, dense and dark, it has a violet robe with a ruby rim. Mind-boggling nose, displaying notes of strawberries, sour cream and mineral undertones. Another layer brings hints of kirsch, cassis liqueur, black pepper and eucalyptus. The wine behaves majestically in the mouth, its dense body refreshed by a tight acidity, some mellow tannins and the balsamic quality of the Monastrell. This sweet wine, however, needs some time to open, so be patient. In short, Dulce Crápula 2010 compares, not unfavourably, with a great Port.
Finally, the elder brother of the Crápula family. Crápula Soul Limited Edition 2009 is a blend dominated by Monastrell, along with tiny amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Syrah. A true expression of terroir, it was meticulously crafted and aged for 15 months in French oak barrels. It has a high red robe with a ruby rim, and on the nose it displays aromas of jammy red fruit, Jamaican and white pepper, and some notes of toffee and vanilla. Bold and luscious in the mouth, the wine has a silky texture and mellow tannins, with ripe red fruit, wild berries, menthol, black pepper and liquorice. Acidity is tense and crisp, and finish is very long, with a complex aftertaste that brings back all of the previous sensations. An exceptional value. A first-class wine.
That'all for today. Remember: the magic word is Monastrell.