Jumilla is a small red wine produced in the Spanish region of Murcia. Situated between the Mediterranean coast and the sun-soaked plains of La Mancha, the small DO of Jumilla is blessed with a unique and interesting terroir.
The cultivation of vines dates back to ancient civilisations; the Iberians took advantage of Jumilla’s favourable grape growing conditions, then the Greeks, and later the Romans. Not far away, in Hellín (Albacete), the Mundo river flows, providing a modest cooling influence. At the end of nineteenth century the expansion of Jumilla wines was due to the preservation of the area from phyloxera. This situation helped Jumilla wines to be sold at the European markets while their vineyards were recovering from phyloxera effects.
Throughout Spain producers can articulate the use of pre-phylloxera vines with the term Pie Franco. Although it is forbidden to plant new vines with ungrafted rootstocks, there are still a number of very old vineyards left. Casa Castillo and Ego Bodegas use the term Pie Franco to indicate wines produced exclusively with pre-phylloxera vines.
Altitude is important in Jumilla, as is the myriad of soils that can be found in the appellation. Typically, the area is characterised by poor, infertile soils with a high levels of limestone. Such soil of course is suitable for varieties such as Monastrell and Syrah and the wines are full bodied with deep colour and concentration of fruit.
Monastrell is the key grape variety found in Jumilla. In the 1970s and 80s there was a big trend toward planting international grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah and these are now found as straight varietal wines or as part of a blend. Some producers seek to represent this heritage by partnering the traditional grapes of the region and so it is fairly common to find Monastrell and Cabernet Sauvignon blends.