Garnacha has been grown in Jumilla for centuries but has mainly been used in blends. This seems remarkable considering how closely the terroir of Jumilla resembles that of the Southern Rhone. Jose Maria planted Garnacha as an experiment about 10 years ago and this fresh, aromatic wine is the happy result.
The sun-baked landscape of Jumilla doesn't immediately strike you as a place to produce graceful wines, with 300 days of sunshine per year and low rainfall. The secret which Jose María Vicente has discovered is the Levant native Monastrell (known as Mourvedre in France) which loves the chalky terroirs and cooler slopes of the Sierra del Molar. Jose María's grandfather purchased the property 1941, the original cellar was built by Frenchmen fleeing phylloxera in 1870. Jose María and his father replanted the whole property with native varietals in 1985.
Their low-density bush vines give tiny yields in these conditions. All grapes are hand-harvested, sorted and fermented in stainless steel or concrete. They're starting to practice more whole-bunch fermentation, to counterbalance the ripeness. Ageing is in concrete and seasoned oak. They produce three single varietals and two single-vineyard wines. Pie Franco, named after the un-grafted vines, is building a reputation as one of the best reds in Spain, and all the wines brilliantly combine finesse with the Mediterranean character of the zone.