Stratum Wines &

Stratum Wines 'Maulao' 2022

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Press 4 Red • July 2024 Direct Press Selection

Stratum Wines is a project from Bodega Cerrón in Jumilla, helmed by the fourth generation of the Cerdán family: siblings Carlos, Juanjo and Lucía. The family biodynamically farms about 30 hectares of high-altitude ungrafted vines, mostly Monastrell, on calcareous soils.  Their farming was certified organic in 1989 and were certified biodynamic by Demeter in 2021. There are abundant cover crops in the vines, they work extensively with animals, and champion biodiversity. In the cellar, they work in a low-intervention style, with only spontaneous fermentations with native yeasts and mostly without oak influence. Sulfur is used judiciously and only at bottling. The results of this careful work are well-balanced wines that express a sense of place, with bright minerality that complements the pristine fruit.

Maulao: 85% Monastrell, 15% Garnacha Tinta from own-rooted biodynamically farmed 25-50-year-old vines near Fuente-Álamo. The soils are calcareous sand and sandstone gravels at 820-920m above sea level. The grapes were harvested and fermented spontaneously by parcel in large open-top wood vats and barrels without temperature control. After fermentation, pressed by gravity to neutral oak barrels and foudres to complete malolactic conversion and rest for 12 months before bottling without fining or filtering. Ben Fletcher/José Pastor

Tasting notes: This wine is a terrific example of the José Pastor approach: go to a region where people are known for one thing and find the people doing the opposite. Stratum shocked me by showing the immense potential for terroir-driven wines of substance and finesse in Jumilla, a region I completely avoided due to it's reputation for bulk production and overly manipulated wines. 'Maulao' is lush and ripe with some darker elements — blueberry and black olive — but it is not too rich or heavy, walking a careful tightrope and sticking the landing perfectly. It's balanced, easy to love, a sure BBQ crowd-pleaser, but with depths to explore if you're looking closely. Jonathan Kemp

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