The Juan Gil Monastrell is my favorite wine under $15. I certainly hope that the price is the same next year, but I imagine that the tumbling dollar will take its toll. Many of the wines we regularly see from Spain are poised for price increases. This winery is located in Jumilla, on the central plateau called the Meseta. The region is a virtual desert, which makes for interesting wine production.
Usually vines are trellised to allow air to flow over the grapes, which prevents mold from growing on them. This is not an issue in arid Jumilla, so they have bush vines (like the one on the label). The dry conditions prevent diseases from thriving in the area, so the vines grow to be very old. Older vines produce less grapes and more concentrated wines. The lack of water also restricts yields, so these grapes are packed with flavor. The Monastrell grape is native to this area. It has a very thick skin, so it requires abundant sunshine to become fully ripe. In France it is called Mouvédre, and is mainly used as a blending grape in the wines of the Southern Rhone and Provence.
The wine is opaque violet and its fruit profile reminds me of dark-skinned berries like blackberry and black cherry. The wine has some oak influence, mainly with used barrels. The used barrels impart earthy flavors in the wine – a damp, autumn forest and mushrooms. There are chalky, mineral flavors in the wine as well. The tannins are very soft and the acid is low, so the wine has no edges; it coats the entire palate without focusing on one area, which is the mark of a well-balanced wine.
This is the second wine from Spanish Importer extraordinaire Jorge Ordoñez that I have covered. He does not have a website.