Casa Castillo El Molar Garnacha Jumilla is borne of sandy clay and gravel, differentiating itself from the pack by virtue of its Garnacha makeup. Hand-harvested and fermented wild in concrete, with a finishing of 14 months in assorted large format French wood. With consistent scores in the mid-90’s across vintages from the Wine Advocate and James Suckling, this rich wine bares a striking resemblance to the brawn, core of kirsch, tapenade accents and long-limbed garrigue-soaked tannins of fine Châteauneuf du Pape, at a fraction of the price. It is now wonder, as the fragmented rocky soils are virtually interchangeable.
Always one of my favorite values from Spain, the 2016 El Molar, pure Garnacha from a plot that gives the wine its name, the example from the cooler 2016 showed a little riper than I expected. The vintage was in a way similar to 2013, but the 2016 showed more hints of development, and it might have been going through a closed phase when I tasted it some six months after bottling. The grapes from this sloped and north-facing plot fermented with 30% full clusters and natural yeasts and matured in used barriques for eight to 11 months. If the nose is not as expressive as expected, it's the palate that should guide you through the real character of this wine, juicy and with fine tannins and a dry finish.
91 points, Wine Advocate (December 2017)
Plenty of ripe red cherries and forest berries on the fresh nose. With its solid base of rather supple tannins and generous fruit, then a rather crisp finish, this is an expressive garnacha.
91 points, JamesSuckling.com (August 2018)
Limpid ruby-red. Vibrant and sharply focused on the nose, displaying intense red and blue fruit aromas and hints of candied flowers and licorice. Spicy and taut on entry, then deeper and more broad in the midpalate, offering bitter cherry and boysenberry flavors and a touch of allspice. Finishes on a gently tannic note, with repeating licorice and cherry qualities and strong tenacity.
93 points, Vinous (March 2021)
Dry-farmed Garnacha. From 2015, this is a blend of three vineyards in the same area but with different aspects; north-facing gravel soils and south-west-facing sandy loam. 10 days difference in harvest dates. Vines 10–14 years old. Hand-harvested; semi-carbonic maceration with 60–80% stalks; 8–10 days’ fermentation in underground concrete tanks then 12 months in 500-litre barrels and 5,000-litre foudres. 30,000 bottles produced.
Sweet and rich and lively – contained and not fat. Strawberry fruit. Lots of life and fun.
17 points, JancisRobinson.com (April 2018)