Saturday, July 30, 2011

Juan Gil Jumilla 2008

I've said it before and I'll say it again. With all due respect to Argentina, the best values in the wine world these days are coming out of Spain. Spain is a country whose winemaking pedigree goes back thousands of years. Until recently most parts of Spain including Jumilla, were focused on quantity rather than quality and although they produced a lot of wine, the wine itself was mostly made by large industrial cooperatives destined for a box or a jug.

Jumilla is one of many up and coming regions in Spain that I just love for great values. It was one of the last regions in Europe to be hit by the phylloxera bug and the plague that hit it actually resulted in some good. After being devastated by phylloxera in 1989, Jumilla's production was reduced to one third of what it was, and the local growers and bodegas quickly had to find a way to transform their business. Some of them had the crazy idea of selling less but better wine with a focus on fine wine instead of bulk production. In a way, phylloxera almost forced the local wineries to focus more on quality. I'm here to say I'm happy it happened.

Although the D.O. allows some other grape varieties, 85% of what is grown in Jumilla is Monastrell. This is a native Spanish grape that is called Mourvedre in France and most of the rest of the world. Monastrell based wines tend to be big, ripe, and fruity, and at their best there can be a lot behind all that great fruit.

The Juan Gil Jumilla 2008 is a deep, dark, purple-red in color. The Monastrell grapes are harvested from 40 year old vines (some of the lucky wines that made it through the phylloxera invasion) grown in chalky, rocky soils, and the wine is aged for 12 months in French oak before bottling. The nose brings aromas of blackberry and black raspberry with a hint of blueberry jam and leather. In your mouth the dark berry fruit is just fantastic and is joined by some black cherry flavors. Some structure is provided by the tannins that follow all that juicy fruit. The fruit rides these tannins like a slow-building wave into a finish that has some length to it.

I had the Juan Gil Jumilla with a big old juicy cheeseburger and somehow I just love Jumilla with burgers. It would also work great with any grilled red meats or even some authentic smoky BBQ. At a price of around $14, this is a really good value, and it breaks my own personal norm of generally not liking wines that are 15% alchohol or more. I definitely recommend letting this decant for an hour or so before drinking, but if you give it some breathing time it's really tasty.


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