Altos de Luzón Jumilla 2004
The Altos de Luzón stands in bottle formidable and dark, 50% old vine Monastrell (the
Spanish term for Mourvedre) and 25% each Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo. The
Jumilla appellation in the Levante in south central Spain is known for its hot weather and
high alcohol Monastrell wines (ours is 14.5%, on the low side by Jumilla standards). I
planned a 24 hour decantathon, but with 22 hours to go, and with the aroma of the wine
filling my room, I succumbed. (Next time I try this, I'll have another wine handy.)
Once the $12 wine was in the glass, I was not disappointed. The wine is nearly opaque, a deep and dense ruby with some purple at the edges. The key notes on both the nose and palate are blackberry jam, cassis, black licorice, leather, prune and black pepper. The extra bit of alcoholic heat on the nose quickly stepped aside. The palate in addition has a stimulating note of dried mushroom and smoky dried leaves. Tannins are soft but lasting, with a nice tannic echo on the finish. Oak is evident (from a year of aging in both French and American wood), but I could hardly imagine this wine without it.
My notes on the wine's aromatic and flavor elements are based on the two hour decanting
period, but we consumed the bulk of the wine at the 24-hour point or later, and it was this
mouthfeel that brought me to the reordering stage. The ripe softness of the wine was notable
at two hours, but downright plush the next day. The bottom line on the Luzón is fruit that is
juicy and yet subtle, well integrated with spice, tannin, acidity and oak elements, all
orchestrated by an abiding and benevolent softness.
Most Jumilla is vinified by the large San Isidro cooperative, but a number of independent producers have been working on more refined expressions of the region's traditional wines.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman