DO Jumilla is located on a high plain in the eastern region of Spain, acting as a transition zone between the Mediterranean coastal area and the high central plateau of Castile-La Mancha. The vineyards of Jumilla are spread over the municipality of Jumilla, in Murcia, and six counties in the southeast of the province of Albacete: Ontur, Tobarra, Albatana, Hellin, Montealegre and Fuente Alamo. The main variety of the area is the Monastrell grape variety, a noble and robust variety which produces small bunches of small dark-coloured grapes very rich in sugars and other noble components.
The Vitis Vinifera grape was discovered in many different areas across Jumilla, such as the catholic village of El Prado, the Necropolis of Molar and the Cueva de los Tiestos, all quite distant from eachother. According to accurate dating techniques, these vines have been growing in the region for over 5,000 years.
During the outbreak of the phylloxera plague in the 19th century the region surprisingly escaped contamination and so entered a period of economic expansion as wine merchants from France came in great numbers to buy wine. For this reason the vines were never regrafted onto resistant rootstock from the New World as was the case in the rest of Europe. However, phylloxera struck in 1989, devastating the vineyards and reducing production by 60% in 5 years. Replanting and grafting was slow and expensive but allowed the region to adopt the new methods of grape growing and wine making that were already proving successful in the neighboring DOs of Alicante and Almansa. DO Jumilla is one of the oldest in Spain having acquired its official status in 1966.
DO Jumilla is located in the south east of Spain, This DO is characterized by wide valleys and plateaus in the presence of mountains. It is a transition zone between the Mediterranean coastal area and the high central plateau of Castile-La Mancha. The region is home to around 2,350 grape growers who cultivate more than 30,000 hectares of vineyards, 40% of which are located in the municipality of Jumilla. Annual production is usually around 64 million kilograms of grapes, of which only about 22 million litres of wine is officially qualified, as much of the wine is still bottled in bulk and bottled without a denominación de origin.
However, in recent years, DO Jumilla wines have revolutionized under the flag of the native Monastrell grape variety. The quality of wines that are produced in the region is the reason wine DO Jumilla is considered as one of the emerging names of the Spanish wine scene, enjoying success both domestically and on the international market.
Climate, Soils and Varities
The area is home to a continental climate (long hot summers and cold winters), influenced by the closeness of the Mediterranean Sea. The area is arid, with little and irregular rainfall (around 300 mm/year), though it mostly falls during spring and autumn, often in the form of violent storms which can sometimes cause damage to the vines. The average annual temperature is 16°C, though highs of 40°C can be reached in summer, with lows of below 0°C in winter. There is a risk of frost up to the month of March, exceptionally until April. The vines receive over 3,000 hours of sunlight per year.
The soils are dark, lime bearing and sometimes with a hard lime crust. In general, they are permeable and have good moisture retaining properties, which allows the vines to survive during periods of prolonged drought. They are poor in organic material and their structure does not favour phylloxera. They are quite sandy, allowing good aeration, have a high pH value and are low in salinity.
The vineyards in the region are situated at altitudes varying between 400–800 metres. But to talk of DO Jumilla is to really talk about the Monastrell grape variety, which is the grape variety best adapted to the regions conditions and soil compositions, and accounts for over 80% of total production.
Although widespread throughout the Mediterranean coast, the Monastrell is a strain of Spanish origin and is currently the third most planted variety in Spain. It is a robust variety and drought resistant, and like a good insolation. It has a medium-high sensitivity to downy mildew and powdery mildew, is highly resistant to excoriose, gray rot and moth, and has a high resistance to phylloxera.
While the Monastrell variety dominates, other grown varieties include, Cencibel, Garnacha Tintorera, Garnacha Tinta, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah y Petit Verdot, while for the white wines, Airén, Macabeo, Pedro Ximénez, Malvasía, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscatel.
DO Jumilla wines and wineries
Throughout the region, Monastrell grapes are used to produce rosé wines, through a short maceration between the pulp and skins, resulting in rosés that are fruity, fresh and elegant, with suggestive tones of rose, raspberries and cherries. But what really stands out it’s the production of its reds, dominated by the presence of the Monastrell grapes. Young reds from this region and variety have an intense purple red colour with violet tones and are very expressive and fruity on the nose (black fruits, ripe plum…) with tannins living in the mouth and a great structure. As for the aged red wines, they are meaty and have a greater aromatic complexity. Another local speciality is natural and sweet red wines, bright and dense reds with intensive colours, aromas of ripe fruit (figs, raisins …) with good tactile sensations and very persistent in the mouth.
The region is home to many large cooperatives and giant wineries, as well as some medium and a few small sized companies.
Casa de la Ermita. This winery was probably one of the first to bet on the regions wien revolution. Various grape varieties are cultivated here, including Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Merlot, Syrah and Mouvèdre. The company is a pioneer in organic farming and boasts an impressive collection of 4,200 barrels. Labels produced here include Casa de la Ermita and Moony, the latter of which is made using the company’s oldest vines.
Juan Gil. A family company, Juan Gil is now in the hands of the fouth generation of the same family who founded it. The winery blends old and new, linking tradition with technological revolution. Their vineyards are located at around 700-850 metres above sea level and are home to old Monastrell vines, as well as younger Syrah, Cabernet, Merlot and Petit Verdot vines that help provide provide strong nuances of spices and fruit in their wines, marketed under the brands Hono Vega and Juan Gil. The development of powerful new signature Gil Family Estates began with the construction of the new winery Juan Gil in Aragona, Jumilla. while got underway project of El Nido with the illusion of seeing off author wines and reviled high in Jumilla.
Bodega El Nido ;the first steps of this winery begin to bear fruit at the end of 2001, resulted in the collaboration agreement between the Gil Family and Chris Ringland, one of the best Australian winemakers. It has small plots with a total of 32 hectares of the Monastrell variety, from very old vines and some almost centenarians, 12 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah 1.8 hectares. The first harvest is marketed to add the corresponding 2002 under the brands El Nido and Clio. Also in 2009 the first harvest of Corteo completes the current range of wines is produced.
Bodegas Luzon was established in 1916 with a successive union of growers and winemakers, but the new winery was built 2000, with an important enological reform in 2005 and 2,500 oak barrels. Moscatel Sells a dozen labels, from the oak and young wine varietal Petit Verdot, through the raisings and author wines, to the Luzon Verde organic vineyard, and frizzante white Muscatel.
Casa Castillo is the legacy of a winery built by the French in 1870, but not until 1985 when the second generation of the family (Nemesio and his son Jose Maria Vicente) start a new project with the introduction of new varieties and restructuring of 174 hectares of vineyards. Produces a single variety of Monstrell and a Syrah, as well as the multivarietal Las Gravas, although its flagship wine is the Casa Castillo Pie Franco, who comes from the parcel La Solana where a plantation Monastrell rootstock planted in the year 1941
Bodegas Carchelo, founded in 1990 by Agapito Rico, which was the first winemaker who dared to plant French vines in the DO, is located in Sierra del Carche, with a height of 1371 meters, was a pioneer in Jumilla for its policy of wines quality from grown so successfully that there was a mirror effect for other wineries in the appellation of origin.The winery has 100 hectares of plantation, including own plots and leased plots of Monastrell, Tempranillo, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties, of which produces half dozen labels: Carchelo, Altico, Green, Servant, Canalizo and Autista where the benefits of the latter are intended for the Association of People with Developmental Disorder Autistic type Astrada.
Bodegas Volver is the project of Jorge Ordoñez and Rafael Canizares in 2004, two of those responsible for the Spanish international boom came in the 90s, which recovered previously unknown ancient abandoned in areas such as the DO Jumilla vineyards. At the same time, Jorge Ordóñez reinventing the business of export of Spanish wines, creating new types of customers and making known to the world the potential of the wines from this region.