Bodegas Olivares Altos de la Hoya 2003
The heat-loving Monastrell is known as Mourvedre in France's Rhone valley. Jumilla records show that Monastrell was used at least as early as the 15th century. Like the Rhone, Jumilla gets extremely hot during the summer days, but because of the 1500 foot elevation, nights are very cool. This allows the grapes to become physiologically ripe, yet maintain their acidity.
For Jumilla, the key to its vineyards' survival was their sandy soil—which is anathema to the Phylloxera insect. As a glorious consequence, Jumilla not only has some of the oldest vines in the world, but also the largest number of ungrafted vines. Most of these vines are Mourvèdre, or Monastrell as it is locally known, one of the most prized varieties of Mediterranean Europe. And Jumilla's summers boast hot days and cool nights, perfect for ripening grapes, while maintaining acidity.
Today, Jumilla is awakening to its vast potential, and a winemaking revolution has followed — led by growers like Olivares' Paco Selva. He owns 65+ hectares of ungrafted old vineyards in the northern part of the appellation, called La Hoya de Santa Ana. It is the coolest sub-zone of Jumilla, with sandy, lime-rich soils that yield intensely aromatic wines, while protecting the ungrafted vines from Phylloxera.
Known for its bold, heady, rustic and age-worthy red wines, Spain is truly a one-of-a-kind wine-producing nation. A great majority of the country is hot, arid and drought-ridden, and since irrigation has only been recently introduced and (controversially) accepted, viticulture has sustained—and flourished—only through a great understanding of Spain’s particular conditions. Large spacing between vines allows each enough resources to survive and as a result, the country has the most acreage under vine compared to any other country, but is usually third in production.
Most planted and respected is Tempranillo, the star of Spain’s Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions. Priorat specializes in bold red blends, Jumilla has gained global recognition for its single varietal Monastrell and Utiel-Requena has garnered recent attention for its reds made of Bobal.