Jumilla, Monastrell, Red wine, Spain

Juan Gil 2008

Juan Gil 2
Winemaker: Bartolo Abellán
Grape: 100% Monastrell
Region: Jumilla, Spain

See other wines from these producers:
Can Blau

Jumilla, in southern Spain, is considered the most important area for growing Monastrell in the world. It has been cultivated in this region for some centuries. The winery was originally founded in 1916 by Juan Gil Giménez, a great-grandfather of Angel and Miguel Gil Vera.

The two brothers, carrying the family tradition today, are honoring the memory of their ancestor not only by their devotion and passion for the Jumilla’s most famous grape variety, but also by carrying his name on the building – Bodegas Juan Gil.

Their new cellar, located on family property at Término de Arriba is the highest place in Jumilla. When I visited Bodegas Juan Gil few years back, it was a very hot and windy there. I bet that’s their daily experience. Building their cellar this high created a great position to oversee the family vineyards. And the quality of wine coming from this bodegas must be making Angel and Miguel’s great-grand father very proud.

Juan Gil 2008Gil brothers improved their winemaking technology significantly and personally oversee all daily operations. Although they are not overly ambitious but both very focused on quality of wine, they shortly became one of the most important Spanish wine producers of today. But high quality of their Wrongo Dongo and Juan Gil is just the beginning of the long list of outstanding wine projects this family is involved in, throughout the Spain.

Grapes for Juan Gil were sourced from 40 years old vineyards around the Bodegas Juan Gil (700 m above sea level). The lean, calcareous, rocky limestone soil, poor in nutrients, low rainfalls and extreme changes of temperatures are putting a lot of stress on vines. Therefore low yielded Monastrell from this area grows into small berries, very aromatic and very concentrated in flavor.

Harvest was done by hand and grapes were than sorted in the winery. Maceration lasted 25 days with controlled temperature. Wines were macerated in contact with the skins before being deposited into barrels. Wine aged 12 months in French and American oak.

There is another family secret that makes this wine irresistible: some old vine Monastrell, that doesn’t make the cut into strictly highest quality standards of El Nido and Clio ends up in Juan Gil blend.

Tasting notes:
Deep ruby red color and beautiful aroma of dark berries and plums on the nose. This wine needs to breath a little – it will reward you with stronger flavors and aromas, so give it at least 15 minutes. Full body, greatly balanced fruity wine has velvety, almost none existent tannins. Well balanced, clean and structured,with levels of rich fruit flavors, it feels like the fruit was whipped to cover every part of your mouth. Very long finish, incredible value!

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: under $ 18.00

Ideal food pairing:
Paella, stewed meats with mushrooms, pork roasts, grilled meats, BBQ

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So, what’s so special about Clio?


So, what's so special about Clio?Never heard of Clio? I wouldn’t be surprised. This wine doesn’t have such a long reputation as for example Caymus, Spottswood, Silver Oak, Chateau Latour or similar “high end superb collectibles”. In fact, history of Clio is not even a decade long. Yet, it created quite a wave right after its first released vintage of 2002.

Clio is a spectacular red wine made by Bodegas El Nido in Jumilla, Southern Spain. It is a team work of Gil brothers (famous winemaking family, involved in several successful wine projects throughout the Spain), Jorge Ordóñez (in my opinion the top importer of Spanish wines to the United States of America) and famous Australian winemaker Chris Ringland.

So, what's so special about Clio?The blend of 2007 vintage was sourced from 32 years old vines of Cabernet Sauvignon (30%) and 76 years old vines of Monastrell (70%). If you are lucky enough to get it, the price averages about $ 40.00 per bottle. So why is this wine so passionately sought after by wine experts?

Is it the outstanding quality, old vines, the terroire, rapidly changing temperatures, not enough rain, aging potential, very limited availability, high scores and reputation, the extensive manual work in the vineyards, the winemaker? What is it that makes it so special? All of the above!

When I visited the vineyards of Clio and El Nido, I was shocked. The first thought that came to my mind was: this wine is too cheap! How could anybody make a living? (take it from somebody, who constantly complains about overpriced, over-marketed wines that are not worth it).

So, what's so special about Clio?
The picture you see, is not a desert – it is an actual vineyard. You can not see the soil because it is covered by stones up to who knows how deep.

One can only imagine what the roots of these vines have to go through to reach any nutrition and water.

So, what’s so special about Clio?

A very interesting lady winemaker once told me that wine is just like people. The more struggle, problems and stress it experiences during its time, the better fruit it develops. Just like we become better people through our own struggles. Yes, it is proven truth.

Bodegas El Nido’s Cabernet and Monastrell are harvested continuously, within 4-5 weeks, as they ripe. The already low yield was pruned down during a green harvest (when clusters were eliminated to 1-2 per vine to develop the most concentrated flavor). When the harvest begins, workers will pass through each vine several times, to pick the most mature brunches only, and leave the rest to develop more.

(Just to have some prospective on the yield – a typical high end Cabernet in California, priced $ 100.00 and more per bottle – would average about 6-8 clusters per vine. And that’s considered “a boutique style winery”).

Their excessive work goes even further – harvesting into very small baskets so the grapes wouldn’t bruise, press and lose some precious juice. This is followed by another selection at triage tables at the winery – where they only pick the healthiest, ripest grapes.

After that the wine ferments in open small vats for 7 days. The grapes are than basket pressed and fermentation is finished in oak barrels. New French and American oak barrels are used for a second, malolactic fermentation. Each variety age in oak separately and the blend is made at the end, after tasting every barrel by Chris Ringland and rest of winemakers of Bodegas Juan Gil. They pick and choose what will go to the final blend. When all this is finished, wine quietly ages for 26 months in new oak.

“And than Jorge Ordóñez comes, and tastes every single barrel separately…. and eliminates about the half of it,” smiled Miguel Gil, explaining us about the whole process. I don’t know about you, but I truly believe that this wine deserves a super special attention as it was given such a special care.

Considering how old the vineyards are, this is a very modern, exciting wine with a great aging potential. And I am sure it’s only beginning! If you are lucky to get your hands on some Clio, do not think twice. You will be rewarded!

Known ratings for Clio 2007:
The Wine Advocate 94 point rating
International Wine Cellar 93 point rating

2006 W/A 95 points
2005 W/A 95 points
International Wine Cellar 93 points
2004 W/A 97 points
2003 W/A 96 points
2002 W/A 93 points