Perception-bending Monastrell

It’s easy to forget that Southern Spain’s Jumilla grows the same grape as France’s Mourvedre, the soulful source behind Provence’s most important wine.
The connection is lost in a swath of commercial wines from Jumilla which taste more of chewy-fruit than of Mediterranean flavors. Which is a real shame; when you zoom into the area there's limestone (famous for preserving freshness) and a cooling elevation of over 2500 feet. And, for one very special producer, wildly own-rooted vines.
That producer is Bodega Cerrón’s ‘Stratum’ project, whose wines are changing the game here. Taking our thoughts to places like Granges des Peres and Tempier through the lens of Spanish chalk and limestone...

Not unlike Cannonau in Sardinia, Monastrell from Jumilla has never been my thing. Frankly it can be overwrought and my memories of pulling corks on ubiquitous bottles of Juan Gil are not pleasant ones. But, 2024 is throwing my preconceived notions of where to find freshness out the window because, as Teularju did earlier this year (yes, in Sardinia), the Stratum wines have completely reframed a grape for me,pushing me to learn more about Monastrell from Jumilla.

Stratum was born out of 130 year old Bodega Cerrón, an estate perched at the top of the appellation at almost 2500 feet. The fourth generation of the family (siblings Carlos, Juanjo and Lucía) have focused their energy on biodynamics: developing a polyculture of crops and livestock alongside their vines, the winery became Demeter-certified in 2021.

Great-grandfather Francisco Cerdán founded the estate 130 years ago 📷 via Bodega Cerrón


The land itself is surreal, filled with bush trained vineyards that have practically no topsoil. Depending on the site, vineyards sit on a mix of limestone and chalk. Many resemble a combination of galets roulés (those dinosaur egg-looking rocks in the Rhône) scattered on top of crest white, albariza-like (i.e. chalk) soils of Jerez. The resulting fruit they grow is an eye-opening transmitter of these sites' arid, chalky character and their cooling elevation.

Galets roulés vibes in Jumilla 📷 via José Pastor Selections


In the cellar, the work is simple and done similarly for the three cuvées below. Fermentation is spontaneous, done by parcel in large open-top wood vats and without temperature control. The fermented juice is gravity fed into neutral oak barrels and foudres, to complete malolactic conversion and rest for 12 months before bottling without fining or filtering.

The final wines are outstanding. Stirring even. They’re as much about olive-inflected Mediterranean flavors and pure fruited cool climate Monastrell, as they are about the profound definition of chalk and limestone. This is a category-changing winery that we can’t recommend highly enough.

Maulao is a delicious introduction to the estate and the most accessible to drink early. 85% Monastrell, 15% Garnacha Tinta.

From selected vineyards of 70+ year-old own-rooted vines at 900-960m above sea level. Almost all Monastrell with a small amount of Moravia Agria, Blanquilla, Forcallat, Bobal and Rojal.

An incredible, powerful piè franco bottling from almost-100 year old vines, 90-95% Monastrell, with small amounts of Moravia Agria, Blanquilla, Forcallat, Bobal and Rojal. From the Las Pedreras vineyard which sits at almost 3000 ft elevation!