Although officially founded in 1991, Casa Castillo lies on the grounds of an old farming property which incorporated a winery built by the French in 1870. The Vicente family has successfully managed to get the best out of the vines, all of them exposed to extreme heat in non irrigated land.
Located on the slopes of Sierra del Molar at an altitude of up to 760 metres, the estate occupies 402 hectares, of which 174 are under vine. The rest of the land is planted with almond and olive trees, which grow among pine trees and scrubland.
The past years have seen changes under the leadeship of José María Vicente. Tempranillo and Cabernet plantings, valued for their quality and considered indispensable in the nineties, have been removed to give way to late ripening Mediterranean varieties, which can be harvested in September and October. The aim is to make silkier and freshes wines.
Monastrell represents over 60% of the vines, followed by Syrah (over 20%). The remaining land – about 20 hectares– has been planted since 2004 with Garnacha, an unusual variety in Jumilla. Soils are limestone and/or sand and gravelly at higher altitudes. High-density plantings are favoured in order to achieve lower yields per vine.
Wines are fermented in open stone tanks lined with concrete. Depending on the style of the vintage, grapes are sometimes fermented with their stalks. Aging is carried out in 500-litre casks. Valtosca, the most powerful wine in the range, is aged in new oak barrels which are kept up to a sixth use.
The portfolio includes three single varietals and two pago (single vineyard) wines. Casa Castillo Monastrell (around €7) spends a short time in oak and is very fruit-driven; El Molar Garnacha (around €12) is pleasantly light and aromatic whereas Valtosca Syrah (around €16) has marked jam and black fruit notes and considerable structure.
Their pago wines stand out not only among the most noteworthy in Jumilla but also among the greatest terroir-based wines in Spain. Las Gravas (€22) comes from a high-altitude pebbly vineyard which lies on a steep slope. It is a blend of Monastrell, Syrah and Garnacha, which has replaced Cabernet in the last vintages. Expressive balsamic (garrigue) aromas dominate with an underlying warm rustic texture but an irresistible mineral expression. Casa Castillo Pie Franco (around €38) is deliciously peculiar, coming from Monastrell vineyards planted without grafting. It displays a more open colour than Las Gravas, but it will benefit from additional time in bottle to fully develop. It is firm, deep and mineral with dark notes (shoe polish).
Loyal to Jumilla's export tradition, over 90% of its prodution is sold abroad, mostly in the US and Canada.