The Wine Guy


    Spain is a magnificent country. Iberia, as it was called by the Romans, is an ancient land of many distinctive climates and soil concentrations, which today are responsible for scores of wine-growing regions and varietals. One of my favorites is the region of Jumilla, in the southeast of the country. It’s not a large area, about 34,000 acres and it lies inland from the Mediterranean, but not so far that the ocean breezes don’t benefit the grapes. The 290+ days of soft, warm sun, rich soil and capable wine-making produce smooth, supple reds that contain a range of styles  at relatively affordable prices. Look at these:

    Casa Castillo El Molar, Garnacha, Jumilla, Spain, 2016, ($19.99). The Wine Advocate, which gave this wine 91 points, said, “Always one of our favorite values from Spain, the 2016 El Molar, pure Garnacha from a plot that gives the wine its name, is an example from the cooler 2016 vintage  that showed a little riper body than expected…If the nose is not as expressive as expected, it’s the palate that should guide you through the real character of this wine, juicy and with fine tannins and a dry finish.” They nailed it. Soft and rich, this one is versatile with cheeses, grilled meats and a host of Tapas. Have some now and get some more when grilling time comes around.

    Bodegas Hijos de Juan Gil,  2016, Jumilla,  Spain ($17.99). This winery originated in 1916, when Juan Gil Giménez, the great-grandfather of the present generation, started getting involved in the world of wine, building a winery in the heart of Jumilla. His son, Juan Gil Guerrera, substantially expanded the family’s holdings; the ones who have really consolidated the property’s current offerings though, are Juan Gil González and his brother Paco, the founder’s grandsons. They forged an image of quality, efficiency and reliability which the present generation is trying to maintain and improve as much as possible. This wine is rich, but not overwhelming, soft yet structured and one you can drink now or hold for the next 12-15 years. It’s that big.

    2016 Clio, El Nido, Jumilla, Spain, ($44.99). Resiny oak, coconut, fig, prune and blackberry aromas are staunch and heady in this huge Red. Baked black-fruit flavors register at max ripeness, while flavors of coffee, chocolate and toast push the finish on this flamboyant Monastrell blend. Drink now through 2020. Tremendous with wild Boar and marinated mushroom sauce or Veal Marsala. Don’t forget a great New York Strip or a Sunday Roast Beef, either.

    Given the wines I’ve mentioned so far, you wouldn’t expect this area to have any dessert wines, but here are two from the same vineyard that I think you’ll enjoy anytime from now until late summer nights outside in late August.

    Gutiérrez de la Vega 2013 Recóndita Armonía Dulce; $35/500 ml, 94 points. This muscular, stout Monastrell sweet wine is all aces. Blackberry, cassis and fine oak aromas precede a sensationally smooth palate that’s full of toffee, chocolate, coffee, pepper, blackberry and cassis flavors. A long, warm, impeccably balanced finish is pure and delicious. Drink through 2025.

    Gutiérrez de la Vega 2013 Casta Diva Cosecha de Miel Dulce,$35/500 ml, 93 points.
    Orange peel, nutmeg and burnt brown-sugar aromas set this sweet Moscatel apart from the masses. Round and creamy but still elegant on the palate, this blends flavors of honey, cinnamon, orange and apricot into a fine whole. A long, integrated finish with honey and caramel flavors is ideal. Drink through 2023.