I just left Bodegas Olivares in Jumilla, southeastern Spain. I blended two wines instead of the usual one and I’m extremely happy with both.
But first the important news: Three months ago Elena Olivares gave birth to daughter Paula and Pascual is now a grandfather (and Paco an uncle). Paula, the 5th generation Olivares in the wine business, is almost ready to take over the vineyards. Her training in enology starts later.
Despite Spain’s economic turmoil, luck smiled on Bodegas Olivares this year. Much of Jumilla’s vineyard was hit by hail. Unusually it happened in May, when the vines are more vulnerable, and 25 – 30% of the crop was lost. None of Olivares’ 680 acres were affected. In fact, their yields were slightly above average. The damage pushed up bulk wine prices, increasing the value of their harvest.
The best news is that this is the best vintage I’ve ever had here, going back to 2003. The top vintages to date have been ’03 and ’06, both real powerhouses with plenty of fruit, and 2010, lighter in body but with an even greater purity and intensity of fruit. 2011 is like a blend of 2006 and 2010.
Monastrell is, as usual, the star. The 2003 was a blend of equal parts Monastrell, Garnacha and Syrah. [Monastrell is definitively identified as Mourvedre by ampelographers, and the neighboring town of Murviedra gives the linguists proof too.] Every year since then the percentage of Mourvedre has crept up with 2011 the highest ever at 80%, with 10% each Garnacha and Syrah. The Garnacha adds some breadth, softness and red fruit to the pronounced black fruit of the Monastrell. The Syrah adds spice and some welcome herbal notes. The wines have all finished malolactic fermentation (not usual in Jumilla in January) and the first bottling will be mid-February.
The new blend will be called Situla, after the wine jugs used by the first Iberians. Panarroz is a wine-lovers’ wine, in good vintages like 2011 a powerhouse with plenty of backbone and brawn. The idea for Situla was something a little lighter and softer, more in the quaffing style. A blend of 2/3 Monastrell and 1/3 Grenache did the trick, with a silky texture and an ideal blend of red and black fruits. Drink 2011 Panarroz over the next 5 years. Drink 2011 Situla over the next 5 minutes.