John Poplin on April 6, 2016 1 Comment The 2013 Juan Gil Jumilla Red Wine, like many, is a wine that I’ve been following for a number of years. I was first introduced to it when I was a sales rep in Atlanta for a smaller distributor that specialized in Spanish wines, and it made its way into our portfolio. I won’t say it was an overnight success, but once it got its feet on the ground and started getting attention, this wine certainly developed a following (as did many a Spanish wine back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s) for not only its good taste, but its value as well. So it’s nice to revisit this wine when I see the new vintage roll out. Juan Gil Vineyard Though Rioja has been the dominating region in Spain for a number of years in the eyes of the American wine consuming public, others regions, such as Jumilla, have gradually been closing in on their heels of success. The Jumilla D.O. (Denominación de Origen, established in 1966) is in the Southeastern region of the country, about three and a half hours southeast of Madrid in Murcia, Spain. Wine making in the region dates way back to the mid 1800’s when phylloxera (a nasty little bug) decimated many of the vines in France, leaving vignerons to seek new locations for growing grapes and making wine, and demand for wines from the Jumilla region increased. However, growing grapes in the region dates back to the Roman Empire. With long hot summers and the close proximity of the Mediterranean ocean, the arid climate and predominantly limestone soils are good at retaining water. This is a good thing, as this region doesn’t see all that much rainfall and is historically known to suffer from drought. There is actually a little saying that many of us in the industry hear quite often: “grape vines work best under distress.” So this lack of water is not a bad thing, really. The 2013 Juan Gil Jumilla In 1916, Juan Gil Jiménez first built his winery in Jumilla, inspiring a passion for wine in the generations of descendants who came after him. Though for years each generation looked to new and improving technology, it’s the current generation that is actually looking back to some of the techniques of the past. At the feet of the red rocky plateaus of the region, Juan Gil’s Monastrell (also known as Mourvedre in France) vineyards sprawl out block by block, with rows of vines facing various directions. Though other varietals are grown in Jumilla, Monastrell is king, as it adapts well to the region’s soils and climate and accounts for 80% of the region’s vines. Though Bodegas Juan Gil nowadays has multiple offerings, it was the 12 meses (or months, depicting the amount of time it was aged in barrel) that I tasted. This is the one most commonly seen in retail and restaurants. Now this wasn’t my first time to the Juan Gil Rodeo, and I’m very familiar with Monastrell wines, so I actually had the foresight to decant this wine for about twenty minutes (pouring the wine slowly and evenly through the neck of the decanter) before even approaching it. This wine is 100% varietal, meaning there are no other grapes varietals blended into the wine, from 40 year old parcels of the estate. And as mentioned, this wine is aged in French oak barrels for 12 months. One of the reasons I prefer to decant this wine is the higher alcohol content (15% ABV), which both this varietal and the region are known for. Plus, allowing a Monastrell to open up a little allows it to show off some of its unique characteristics. The wine had an intense dark garnet color with a slight brickish hue around the rim (usually a sign of oak aging), and the legs (or tears) were pretty thick. Lush dark raspberry, blackberry and plum were the dominate fruit notes at first with hints of violets and rose petals lifting from the aromatics of the wine. The second wave brought on blueberries, black cherry, dried fig and a light minerality to the wine with cocoa, notes of dried tea leaves, coffee and a hint of leather. Overall, the wine is a borderline medium to full bodied wine, present but not overbearing tannins, and of course the big rich fruit with violets, lavender, and cocoa powder that characterizes the Monastrell grape varietal. Though this is a Spanish wine, to me it’s a little more “new world” in style, driving more towards the fruit characteristics of the grape than the terroir of the region. This is a great wine for a social gathering where aged meats and blue veined cheeses are being served, and is a more affordable option than some of the other Monastrells that I’ve had. In recollection though, the wine has stayed pretty consistent over the years, and is certainly one that I will buy again.