In association with DO Jumilla.
Perfectly suited to the climate and growing conditions of Spain’s high plateau, the Monastrell grape is revered by Jumilla’s winemakers – and a new generation is pioneering the evolution of expressive modern styles
Elena Pacheco freely admits that a couple of decades ago, she and many of her young winemaking colleagues in Jumilla were tempted to replant their vineyards with fashionable French grape varieties. But those days are long gone. The 12m-long vine, suspended from the roof of her Viña Elena winery as an exhibit, is of course the native Monastrell, a grape variety that today covers almost three-quarters of the Jumilla vineyard.
Monastrell’s long vine roots are one reason why Jumilla’s growers revere it. They’re able to delve down into the region’s rocky, limestone soils to extract all the moisture the plant needs, even during Jumilla’s long, baking summers. This is no recent discovery: generations ago, farmers here devoted what water they had to their olive groves and almond trees, knowing that their vines could manage without. This ancestral knowledge is perhaps why in Jumilla, one of the driest areas of Spain, most vineyards are still dry-farmed.
Monastrell has a long drawn-out vine cycle. ‘This has the great advantage,’ says winemaker Valérie Durand, ‘of grapes ripening when the nights are cooler, thus preserving acidity and allowing complete phenolic ripeness.’