Casa Castillo - Jumilla 'Las Gravas' 2020


José Maria is a third generation owner and operator of Casa Castillo a farm that
began as a rosemary plantation but one that has evolved into the preeminent
estate in the DO of Jumilla. While the smell of rosemary still lingers in the
air, the pale, rocky soils surrounding his house and cellar are now planted with
vines, olive and almond orchards separated by indigenous and highly aromatic
herbs. When José María’s grandfather purchased Casa Castillo in 1941 there was
already a winery, cellar and some scattered vineyards on the property dating to
the 1870s, established by French refugees fleeing the plight of phylloxera in
their native land. In 1985 José and his father began to replant the vineyards and
expand them with the goal of making wine on the property. In 1991 they bottled
their first commercial vintage.

José Maria has converted his estate to certified organic farming and his entire
harvest is manual and brought promptly to the cellar for sorting and fermentation.
Fermentations are in stainless steel tanks or underground concrete vats. Pigeage
is done by foot and whole clusters are increasingly used – up to 50% in the Pie
Franco. Aging follows in concrete, foudre and 500L French oak demi-muids. All
this effort is made to restrain the natural exuberance of his principal variety,
Monastrell, to showcase its potential even in the warmest climate to make wines
that are both dense and nuanced.

Not surprisingly, Las Gravas comes from a profoundly rocky, single vineyard of the same name. You’d also be hard-pressed to call it soil since before you can get to anything resembling dirt, you have to go through a foot of stones. Here Jose Maria and his father planted Monastrell, and Garnacha, each of which contributes to the final blend of Las Gravas. While the other cuvées from the estate show the unique expression of site and variety, Las Gravas is a broader lesson in terroir and the varieties that thrive here. Las Gravas is harvested by hand and fermented in underground stone tanks with manual pigeage. Once primary fermentation is complete, the wine is aged in 5000L foudres and 500L French oak demi-muids for 16 months. In most vintages, only 20% of the barrels are new.

"The phenomenal 2020 Las Gravas was produced with 92% Monastrell from 30- to 40-year-old vines on north-facing gravel soils (hence its name) complemented with 8% Garnacha. It fermented with 30% full clusters and indigenous yeasts in underground stone lagares and matured in a combination of 500-liter barrel and 5,000-liter foudres for 16 months. It has classical parameters, 14.5% alcohol, a pH of 3.47 and 4.87 grams of acidity per liter. The wine is super perfumed and floral, really showy, elegant, nuanced and refined, with the notes of pine needles and wet soil much subtler than in the 2019. There is an ethereal character to the 2020s that I haven't found in any previous vintage here, but at the same time, the wines are very mineral and have lots of energy and light. There is precision, cleanliness, definition and elegance like I hadn't seen before and refined tannins with a pungent mineral sensation in the textured finish. This is an incredible wine for the price asked. 35,500 bottles produced. There was a single bottling in February 2022." - 98 points, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Producer: Casa Castillo

Country: Spain

Region: Murcia

Varietal: Monastrell, Garnacha

Appellation: Jumilla

Vintage: 2020

Size: 750ml