'...Truly outstanding, world-class, the best wine produced in the Mediterranean and the best wine from Casa Castillo ever...' - Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate
This 100pt wine from Casa Castillo, comes from the winery's oldest vines, where the sandy soils make it more resistant to phylloxera, hence the vines being on their own roots. More but not totally resistant, every year a few vines succumb, so unfortunately production of this benchmark cuvee, considered one of the finest reds in Spain is gradually decreasing. It combines fresh floral notes with the Mediterranean character of the zone, and has the backbone to develop for a long time in bottle.
I had tasted the 2020 Pie Franco during its upbringing in barrel and couldn't wait to taste the bottled version. The wine comes from the ungrafted Monastrell vines planted in 1942 by the current generation's grandfather on a south-facing slope rich in limestone and gravels. In this dream vintage, they achieved a wine with 14.5% alcohol, a pH of 3.47 and almost five grams of tartaric acid per liter of wine. The wine matured in 500-liter oak barrels for 16 months. There is precision; it's like laser cut, with symmetry and nuance, and it feels ethereal with lots of inner strength. It has the aromatic herbal notes but they are a lot subtler, and the wine is a lot more elegant and floral. The 2020s are wines of texture, silky, fine and elegant. This is the essence of the Mediterranean.
Truly outstanding, world-class, the best wine produced in the Mediterranean and the best wine from Casa Castillo ever. I was trying to find reminiscences with previous vintages, and it's different from 2017 and 2018, maybe a mixture of the two, but overall the 2020s are unique and have a combination of Mediterranean character and freshness more intense than any other previous vintage. José María Vicente told me the only vintage that could be compared a little with the 2020 could be 2010. I've seen this wine evolve every year since the initial vintage of 1998 to reach world-class. Bravo!
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.
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