We're impressed with this full-bodied, warm and succulently-fruited Garnacha for the price! Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise, as this winery has produced consistently great wine for years. The family-owned Casa Castillo estate lies in the sun-drenched southeastern Spanish region of Jumilla; it's as Mediterranean as Mediterranean gets. In conditions like these, it's easier to farm organically, and that they do! For the El Molar bottling they use the Spanish native variety, Garnacha (aka Grenache), grown on gravely soils at the base of the area's mountains, dominated by the peak of El Molar. The winemaking is very hands-on and traditional: hand-harvesting followed by native yeast fermentation in large stone vats buried in the ground to keep things from overheating, and manual punch-downs of the skins into the juice. Such care makes a difference for the quality in the glass!
This is classic Mediterranean climate Garnacha, with similarities to some southern French examples; there's the beautiful, true-to-variety ruby hue that's only moderately deep, along with a pure, cherry and raspberry cordial fruit character in full display. Accents of 'Mediterranean herb' and kola nut (the source for real flavoring of cola drinks), along with a gentle crushed stone minerality, make it an even more compelling experience. The mouthfeel is full and viscous due in large part to the 15% abv, and glossy-textured, with just a powdering of tannin for a subtle grip on the finish. The acidity is tucked nicely into the fruit, and provides the wine with a fresh, rather than flabby, feel. Using large oak barrels allows the wine to soften and develop complexity while contributing a subtly creamy caramelized oak note. It's a wine that's easy to like: succulent, warming, and easy to drink due to its balance and sappy, ripe fruit! This is a great wine for pot roasts; lamb shish kabob with roasted bell peppers and onions (get them a bit caramelized!); and hummus or aged cheeses. Vegan.
WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "The perfect Mediterranean vintage produced an outstanding Garnacha. The 2020 El Molar fermented with 35% full clusters and matured in a combination of 500-liter barrels and 5,000-liter foudres for one year. The wine is very young and tender; it feels more delicate despite having a little more alcohol than the 2019 (it's 15%) and with a slightly lower pH (3.49). It's super aromatic, extroverted and expressive, floral, elegant and complex. There is great balance, and the wine feels fresher and less ripe; it's refreshing and has a core of minerality and super fine tannins with pungent flavors. There is precision, elegance and balance, the three words that define the vintage. All the wines are very good value, but this is a steal."