Tuesday, September 1, 2009

2005 Juan Gil

All that's good about Spanish wine.

Spain's wine industry has gone through a transformation in the past decade or so and the rise of wines like this one are the manifestation of that makeover. Seemingly designed specifically for the American consumer's taste for strength in flavor, a wave of bold, international-style wines with expressive, in-your-face fruit characterize the new guard. 


The Gil Vera family, current owners and great-grandchildren of founder Juan Gil Lecina, operate this winery just outside Jumilla in south eastern Spain. Bodegas Hijos de Juan Gil, or just "Juan Gil", puts out four wines - all reds - three 100% Monastrells and one Monastrell-dominated Syrah blend. Small quantities of their other wines have made their way across the ocean, but this is the one you're most likely to find in the US marketplace - even if in a different vintage (more on that below).
Depite its history, this 100% Monastrell suggests that Juan Gil is definitely part of the new guard. 

In a good way.  At least the 2005, anyway.

Grapes are estate grown on 40-ish year old vines. The combination of a super dry climate, low yields, and a 25 day whole cluster sur lie fermentation make for an inky wine.  The 12 months in French oak help with structure and finess.

So, what's with the 2005?  After repeated tastings, there is a discernable difference in enjoyment between the '05 versus the '06 and '07.  The 05 is a very respectable, attention-commanding wine.  Mouth-friendly and food-friendly, it is a crowd-pleaser.  The 06 and 07 on the other hand, seem to have lost some of the identity.

A lot.

We paid $15.99 in three markets for all three vintages making the 2005 a sizzling deal (and the others a ho-hum).

Rating:  Yummy.  Buy all you can find 'cause it'll be at least a few years before they come out with a better one.