If you like Malbec, you’ll love Monastrell. The Monastrell (Mourvèdre ) grape produces rich, very flavorful wines at very reasonable prices. It’s mainly grown in Jumilla, which is very hot in the summer, but its high altitude vineyards have the cool night temperatures that preserve freshness and acidity. Monastrell isn’t easy to grow. It can require ten years before it’s established and producing fruit. Which is all the more surprising that the wines are so inexpensive.
Our November tasting of Monastrell found some incredibly good wines at ridiculously low prices. These wines should by now be at your neighborhood wine store, and we encourage you to try them. Our favorites of the tasting are listed below. They include some surprisingly delicious dessert wines. Go to http://www.iwinereview.com/NonReportTastings/0910montastrellSelections.php
for the full report.
Best Values in Monastrell
Bodegas Castaño 2005 Solanera Viñas Viejas Yecla ($15) 92
Solanera is one of the finest Monastrell-based wines produced in Spain today. Medium dark ruby in color, it displays complex aromas of ripe dark cherry and plum fruit with toasted oak, spice and herbs It is ripe, round and soft on the attack, showing seamless elegance and finishes with sweet, extracted fruit and vanilla notes. A beautifully balanced modern wine made of 65% Monastrell 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Tintorera.
Bodegas Juan Gil 2006 Monastrell Jumilla ($12) 91
This is a terrific 100% Monastrell with the fruit coming from low yielding (1.8 tons/acre) 40 year old vines in a 700 m high vineyard. It is medium dark ruby garnet in color and exhibits aromas of red berries, toasty oak, earth and herbal aromas. It is full and round on the palate with big hard tannins, prominent oak, and a touch of astringency. Spends 12 months aging in French oak.
Bodegas Olivares 2006 Dulce Monastrell Jumilla 500ML ($25) 91
Opaque purple. Produced from late ripening vines, this marvelous ambrosial desert wine offers aromas of freshly baked black raspberry pie. It has lovely depth and intensity and purity of fruit on the palate with some earthy notes. Impressive balance. Long and persistent finish of black raspberry and violet.
Atalaya 2007 Atalaya Almansa ($12) 90
Dark ruby. A lovely wine that is international in style, offering aromas of dark cherry, lead pencil and vanilla and a palate with loads of fresh fruit that is nicely integrated with oak. The wine is also beautifully balanced with wonderful flavor and a persistent finish. Great value.
Bodegas Silvano García 2005 Viña Honda Crianza Jumilla ($20) 90
The ripe and lushly styled crianza has an effusive nose and appealing flavors. Dark ruby in color with a tangy attack and spicy blackberry, blueberry and smoky oak aromas and flavors with a firmly tannic finish.
Bodegas Silvano García 2007 Dulce Monastrell Jumilla 500 ML. ($25) 90
Dark purple ruby. Dark red cherry and raspberry aromas. Off dry palate with deliciously pure fruit flavors. Velvety on the palate. Finishes quite sweet. Aged for 6 months in stainless steel prior to bottling. Made from 60 year old, dry-farmed vines and harvested the first week of November.
Casa de la Ermita 2005 Crianza Jumilla ($16) 90
This crianza is a blend of 40% Monastrell, 25% Tempranillo, 25% Cabernet, and 15% Petit Verdot. It is a wine with surprising complexity and depth at this price point. Opaque ruby garnet in color, it shows black currants and smoky green tea on the nose. On the palate there’s extracted red and black fruit, smoke, and heathery underbrush with dry tannins on the finish.
Casa de la Ermita 2006 Dulce Monastrell Jumilla ($22) 90
A lovely passito style dessert wine ideal for matching with dark chocolate and strongly flavored cheeses. It is medium dark ruby in color with ripe plum and a resinous note on the nose. Velvety smooth on the dark cherry palate.
Pedro Luiz Martinez 2006 Alceño Dulce Monastrell Jumilla 375ML ($23) 90
This dark purple Dulce Monastrell offers lovely aromas of raisins and figs. It is thick and honeyed on the palate with complex and nuanced flavors of ripe fruit compote. Rich and beautifully balanced and long-lasting on the finish. A perfect accompaniment for soft ripe cheese or on top of ice cream.
Bodegas Luzón 2005 Altos de Luzón Jumilla ($14) 89
This delicious wine is a blend of Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo. It is sourced from old low yielding vines (1.6 tons/acre). Rich and concentrated, it offers ripe huckleberry, blueberry and cassis flavors with toasted oak and spice notes. It has soft round tannins and a long finish. Great value.