José Maria Vicente is the third-generation owner and operator of Casa Castillo, a preeminent estate in the DO of Jumilla. When José Maria’s grandfather purchased Casa Castillo in 1941, there was already a winery, a cellar, and some scattered vineyards on the property dating to the 1870s, established by French refugees fleeing the blight of phylloxera in their native land. The sun-baked landscape of Jumilla doesn’t immediately strike one as a place to produce elegant wines, with its 300 days of sunshine per year and low rainfall. The secret is the Levant native Monastrell (known as Mourvèdre in France), which loves the chalky terroirs and cooler slopes of the Sierra del Molar.
In 1985, José Maria and his father began to expand and replant the vineyards with native varietals, with the goal of making wine on the property. In 1991, they bottled their first commercial vintage. Their low-density bush vines produce tiny yields in these conditions. All grapes are hand harvested, sorted, and fermented with natural yeasts in stainless steel or concrete. Aging is in concrete, foudre, and 500L French oak demi-muids. All the Vicentes’ unique wines brilliantly combine finesse with the Mediterranean character of the zone.