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

All recipes paired with wine, Fish and Seafood, Poultry

Galician Paella


Galician Paella
Galician Paella

You will need a paella pan – the one on my picture is for 8 people – if you don’t have a paella pan, heavy duty pan will work as well. Preferably with metal holder or removable holder when placing to the oven. Paella is a symbol of Spain for me, and I have a huge respect for it. Every region makes it’s own kind, with their own ingredients. For example in southern Jumilla in Spain I had paella made with escargots only. It was so delicious. Although I am usually not big on following the recipes, preparing a paella,  I wanted to learn it the right way.

I was invited to Costa del Sol’s (Spanish restaurant in Hartford, CT) kitchen and had the privilege to watch Spanish chef making paella step by step. As this family came from the region of Galicia, this is THEIR traditional paella. I wasn’t taking notes but I wrote it down as soon as I came back home. Ever since I respectfully follow these directions. It may seem difficult but believe me, if you take your time and prepare this dish, it is well worth it! The best way is to make paella when your guests are already around, open that good bottle of Spanish wine you saved for a special occasion and cook along – it’s entertaining too!


¼ onion, chopped
¼ red bell pepper, chopped to little pieces
¼ yellow pepper, chopped to little pieces
Few fresh white mushrooms sliced (3-4)
1 chorizo (the original cooking chorizo is available at Costa del Sol store inside the restaurant)
1 pound of chicken breast or thighs (what ever you prefer), trimmed from fat and cut into small pieces ( I love thighs they have way more flavor)
1 pound of extra large shrimps
Clams, mussels (about a pound all together)
pinch of saffron
1 tablespoon of diced tomatoes (or tomato paste)
Rice (Uncle’s Ben’s) (measure 1 cup for 2 people)
Olive oil
1 cups of white dry wine
Chicken broth (2 cups per 1 cup of rice) (watch out – if you are using low sodium broth, you will need to add salt to the dish – don’t repeat my first paella mistake!)
½ cup of green peas (could be frozen)

Start your paella on top of the stove on high heat with quite a lot of olive oil (you will later drain the rest away and can save it for future cooking). Heat the oil, add onion, peppers, mushrooms and chorizo and saute it for a short time on high heat.

Galician Paella

Keep the heat up and place all the chicken to the pan – spread it all over the pan, not in one spot. (I clean my chicken a day before, mixed small cuts of meat, slightly seasoned with salt and pepper with a little bit of olive oil. It could be left in container in the fridge for few hours. The Spanish chef didn’t use salt at all, he said the taste of paella come from the chicken broth.) Today, I use smaller pieces of the thighs – like half of what you see on the picture. It cooks faster and more evenly.

Galician Paella

Turn chicken so it is equally fried from all sides. (next time I made it, I cut the pieces of chicken smaller) . Drain most of the oil out, leave just a little (or put a fresh one in), bring heat back up and pour a white wine all over the meat. Sprinkle pinch of saffron to the dish and stir.Spread evenly uncooked rice (1 cup per 2 people) and broth (2 cups per each cup of rice) over the pan. Add a little bit of diced tomatoes (tablespoon full) and stir. Leave it alone for ten minutes. Add clams and mussels to the broth, spread all over the pan.

Galician Paella

Let paella cook on low heat for another 10-15 minutes, the rice needs to be cooked for 30 minutes total. When the broth is almost soaked in the rice, add shrimps to the dish, dig it in to the hot rice, sprinkle it with few green peas and put it to the oven (350 °F) for the last 10 minutes. (You can also use your medium heated grill outside and finish paella there under closed cover). When the rice is ready, take it out and cover the pan with clean dish cloth for few minutes for the rice to develop flavors.

Paella is traditionally served directly from the dish – just place it in the middle of the table, add spoons and dig in!Believe me, the best paella experience is the leftover next day – just place your leftover paella in a deep pan, add a bit of chicken broth, cover it up and let it warm up through. Delicious!!!Remember, paella is most importantly a rice dish. All vegetables, chicken and seafood are there just for a taste and color – so don’t over do it! Enjoy!!!!

Paella time!
Paella time!

Wine pairing suggestion:
With this Spanish masterpiece I usually pick my best Spanish red I have on hand. Even though this dish is made of seafood and chicken, the chorizo gives it an earthy flavor. How about spectacular Alto Moncayo Veraton, Old wines Garnacha from the region of Borja?

You can pair this dish with white or red, it’s going to work. For some reason, when I make a paella, it’s a special occassion and I pick the best Spanish wine I have on hand. So I picked an amazing Tempranillo from the Rioja Alta – a single vineyard wine made by Marcos Eguren called Señorío de San Vicente. One of my personal all time Spanish favorites…