Stratum Wines 'Matas Altas' Jumilla 2020
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Press 4 Red • February 2023 Direct Press Selection
Stratum is a project from Bodega Cerrón focused on old vines, led by the children of Juanjo and Juani Cerdán, who were early adopters of organic farming and reforestation efforts in Jumilla. They were met with considerable resistance in 1989 when they received organic certification. Now they are awaiting Biodynamic certification. Jumilla is another region in southeastern Spain known for bulk production and overly manipulated wines, but this is starting to change. It's an arid, high plateau with 3,000 hours of average sunlight per year and it's easy to make overpowering blustering wines in this climate. Stratum is working counter to this narrative, crafting more subtle wines that show off terrroir and aren't dominated by oak and spoof.
The 'Matas Altas' is 95% Monastrell (aka Mourvèdre) with a mix of more obscure local varieties Moravia Agria, Blanquilla, Forcallat, Bobal and Rojal. It's from a vineyard of ungrafted vines planted in the 1950s at nearly 3,000 feet of elevation on chalky, white limestone. There is a smoked, cured meat note that I've always found in wines from this region, and there is certainly some beefy texture; but what makes this wine stand out is the freshness that stands alongside the darker, heavier elements. Dark chocolate and mocha flavors are energized by cranberry and rooibos tea notes. Overall this is a substantial, finessed, and convincing wine that points to a new way forward in Jumilla. Jonathan Kemp