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Details for Casa Castillo, Monastrell


CountrySpain
Region
AppellationJumilla DOP
Grape
Mourvèdre / Monastrell / Mataro
(click to find out more)
Grenache / Garnacha
(click to find out more)
Syrah / Shiraz
(click to find out more)
Year2015
Producer
Casa Castillo
(click to find out more)
ABV15%


Jumilla

The best-known wine region of Spain’s south east, Jumilla (pronounced “hoo-mee-a”) rose to prominence in the late 19th Century, when it was one of the very few parts of Europe to escape the dreaded vine pest phylloxera.  For many decades most of its production was exported to phylloxera-ravaged France, and often used to beef up famous French reds.
 
That historical importance led to it being one of the very first DOs in Spain, in 1966.  Its luck ran out in 1989 when phylloxera finally struck, reducing production by 60% over the next five years while the vineyards were replanted on phylloxera-resistant rootstocks.
 
Jumilla is overwhelmingly red wine country.  About 85% of the vineyard area is devoted to just one black variety: Monastrell, which is perhaps better known under its French name of Mourvèdre.  There&rsquuo;s also a fair amount of Tempranillo (here called Cencibel) and international varieties like Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.  White grapes barely get a look in.
 
The climate here is arid and continental, with hot dry summers where temperatures can reach 40°C and cold winters where it drops below freezing.  However, it isn’t quite as extreme as further inland; Jumilla occupies a transitional zone between the Mediterranean coastal lowlands and Spain’s high central plateau, with vineyards rising from 400 to 800 metres.  Widely-spaced bush vines are the norm, to cope with the aridity, and yields are naturally low.


Casa Castillo

Widely regarded as the best producer in Jumilla, Casa Castillo is quite recent, having released its first 1991 vintage in 1993.  The estate had historically produced wine but had been a rosemary plantation for over forty years when current owner and winemaker José María Vicente and his father began to replant the vineyards in 1985.
 
They planted Monastrell (by far Jumilla’s dominant grape), Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  One vineyard they didn’t have to replant was La Solana, which had been planted with ungrafted Monastrell in 1942.  From this comes the flagship Pie Franco (“French roots”, as opposed to the American rootstocks needed to resist phylloxera) which has been acclaimed as one of the best reds in Spain.
 
Almost as prestigious is Las Gravas, which comes from a particularly pebbly, high-altitude vineyard on a steep slope.  Today it is a blend of Monastrell, Syrah and Garnacha.  It used to contain Cabernet Sauvignon, but José has head-grafted that over to Garnacha, seeking later-ripening, more Spanish varieties.
 
The Valtosca vineyard is more chalky, and is planted exclusively with ungrafted Syrah to produce the wine of the same name.  Valle, the largest vineyard, rocky and hot, is entirely bush-vine Monastrell.  Since 2004 José has planted Garnacha on the highest, north-facing slopes on the estate, to produce El Molar.

about this wine About this wine


Despite the name, this isn’t a pure Monastrell any more though it used to be.  In this 2015 vintage there’s 10% of Garnacha and 5% of Syrah included to lighten the blend and add complexity.  The Monastrell comes from Casa Castillo’s La Valle vineyard, whose crusty brown limestone soil is planted entirely with bush vines between 20 and 30 years old.  All Casa Castillo’s vineyards are organically farmed (though not certified) and unirrigated, so yields are very low, around 20 hectolitres per hectare, and concentration correspondingly high.
 
The hand-picked grapes were carefully sorted before being de-stemmed, and then fermented in stainless steel vats at a moderate 24 to 27 °C using only natural yeasts.  This wine was foot-trodden, which makes for a more gentle extraction than pumping over or punching down, providing good colour without excessive tannin.  Aging was in a mixture of concrete tanks and large old oak barrels (most 500 litre, some larger) for 6 to 8 months.


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