The SOMM Journal

April / May 2016

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6 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } APRIL/MAY 2016 first press by David Gadd Founder Juan Gil Jiménez. Spectacular setting: a panoramic shot of the Bodegas Juan Gil vineyards and winery. Bodegas Juan Gil, the flagship label of this important group, dates back to 1916 and is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Founder Juan Gil Jiménez built his winery in the heart of Jumilla, in southeastern Spain. In 1946, Juan Gil González, together with his brother Paco, invested in the estate, forging an image of quality and consistency. Today, the present fourth generation, led by brothers Miguel and Angel Gil, continues to improve upon the standards set by their forebears. Investments in state-of-the-art winemaking facilities ultimately serve the Gil family's real focus: a commitment to preserving Spain's vineyards and saving indigenous clones. By the 1980s, Jumilla was officially in decline, but the Gil family persevered in protecting the D.O.'s ancient Monastrell variety (see sidebar) by creating nurseries for planting new vineyards with native clones. Eventually, the Gil family became the largest owner of old-vine Monastrell in the region. Today, with the burgeoning interest in Spanish wines, Jumilla is on the verge of a renaissance, with the Gil family at its center. All wines bearing the Bodegas Juan Gil name are made from 100% estate fruit from old vines, grown in vineyards at 2,000 feet of elevation and higher. Vines range in age from 25 to over 60 years, producing very low yields because of their age, the dry climate and the absence of irrigation. The soils—primarily limestone and sand—are very nutrient-poor, while the terroir also marked by a large diurnal range. Bodegas Juan Gil is best known for the Juan Gil Silver Label. This Monastrell made from the indigenous clone is a true benchmark wine for D.O. Jumilla and the flagship wine for Gil Family Estates. It has become the number-one-selling Monastrell in the U.S. Beyond Jumilla With the original Bodegas Juan Gil winery bringing renewed attention to D.O. Jumilla, the Gil family looked beyond the borders of the province of Murcia to find other vineyards and appellations worth preserving and promoting. Gil Family Estates now has nine bodegas located across eight Spanish appellations, and own 1,760 acres of vineyards. The wines are exported to 40 countries around the world. Far from Jumilla, on the northwestern coast of Spain, the D.O. Rías Baixas is home to Lagar da Condesa, a new Gil Family Estates project that first came online with the 2013 vintage. The single wine is a 100% Albariño with mouthfilling flavors and seductive texture from barrel-fermentation. In D.O. Rueda, the Gil family created Bodegas y Viñedos Shaya in 2008, making partially barrel-fermented Verdejo-based whites from very old, low-yielding vines. Full of character, these whites make an ideal complement to the reds in the Gil Family Estates portfolio.

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