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What our expert thought of Casa Castillo 'El Molar'

the tasting

The Tasting

Slightly more than medium ruby, this is surprisingly dark for the pale-skinned Garnacha; foot-treading is great for extracting colour without bringing too much tannin along with it.  Prominent legs on the side of the glass hint at the 14.5% alcohol.
It smells really Spanish!  There’s a balsamic vinegar quality to the nose that reminds me of a good Rioja Riserva, but without the obvious vanilla oak that would have.  There is a suggestion of wood shavings, but I think that’s a mineral scent rather than an oak one; it’s closer to the papery smell of Etna Rosso.
Behind that are lots of black cherries and a bouquet garni of dried herbs, especially bay and rosemary.  A hint of black pepper and clove spiciness completes the picture, along with a gamey, meaty quality that is also very Spanish.
It’s very fresh in the mouth, which I wasn't expecting after that mature-smelling nose.  It’s also quite light on its feet for a wine at 14.5%, being not much more than medium-bodied.  There are black cherries again and red ones too, along with some raspberry and blackberry.  A distinct impression of coffee joins the fruits on the earthy afterpalate.
The coffee and the herbs continue on into the fine finish, where the wine’s acidity emphasises its red fruits and nicely offsets the smooth, well-restrained tannins.


Low acidity is often the bane of Garnacha, but the combination of altitude, low yields and the cool vintage have kept this wine remarkably fresh.  Low yields – and hence a high skin-to-pulp ratio – are also apparent in its deep colour.  The downside of that is often high tannin levels, but here foot-treading has come to the rescue, along with the stems acting as cushions to prevent damage to the highly-tannic pips.
The result is a wine that tastes a lot like the Châteauneufs that inspired it, or the fashionable Garnachas of Priorat in northern Spain, but at a fraction of their price and without the long aging they normally require.  That wonderfully fragrant and delightfully Spanish nose is the icing on the cake.

Tasting notes

clear medium+ ruby, prominent legs

Intensity medium+

Aromas black fruits (cherry), VA (balsamic), dried herbs (rosemary, bay, bouquet garni), savoury/gamey, mineral (wood shavings), spice (black pepper, clove)

Development developing, surprisingly mature

Sweetness dry

Acidity medium(+?), v. fresh given the nose

Body medium+, but light for 14.5%

Tannins medium(-?), smooth

Intensity medium

Flavours red & black fruits (cherries, raspberry, blackberry), earth, coffee (esp. afterpalate)

Length medium

Flavours herbs, coffee, red fruits
Other notes
Barely detectable oak. Developed, v. Spanish nose. Remarkable freshness given nose & grape.

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