Monastrell is what the Spanish call Mourvedre. I truly didn’t think it could stand up on its own since my previous encounters with Mourvedre were in Rhone blends and a couple mediocre dessert wines. So color me surprised by this $14.99 bold red I picked up at Evolution Wines and Spirits.
The skill of the Juan Gil family is on display here. The Monastrell grapes are from 40-year-old vines grown in chalky limestone soil. This combined with the arid climate of Jumilla and you get vines that truly suffer and produce a small amount of perfectly ripened grape clusters. Generally speaking, the fewer grape clusters produced by the vines, the more concentrated and ripe each individual berry is. And the riper the berry, the higher the alcohol – this one clocks in at 15-16%.
Once picked, the grapes are then whole cluster macerated sur lie style for 25 days and aged for 12 months in French oak barrels. Whole cluster maceration combined with the sur lie style reduces the amount of tannins and produces a creamy mouth feel in the wine.
The end result is a wine that smells of ripe dark fruits like plums and blackberries with a full body and smooth silky texture, like whole milk. On the palate, the fruit isn’t jammy, but as if you bit into a blackberry about to burst from ripeness. There is also a spiciness in this wine, like freshly cracked black pepper. The finish is quite long and the spiciness and alcohol burn definitely stay with you.
I used to look for Zins from Lodi or peppery Syrah’s from Australia when I wanted to curl up with a good book and make a time of it. But now? This will be my go to. That said, this is a wine I honestly wouldn’t pair with a full course – maybe with a cheese and meat plate or with dark chocolate and sliced fruit.