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The Monastrell Grape


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About Monastrell

(Synonyms: Alcayata, Balzac Noir, Catalan, Espagnen, Espar, Garrut, Gayata, Mataro, Pyrénées-Orientales, Mourvede, Mourvedon, Mourvèdre, Negria, Ros)

Background

Map showing Spanish wine regions

Monastrell—also commonly known as Mourvèdre and Mataro—is a red-wine grape most likely originating in Spain, where it is still very widely grown, but also now planted and vinified pretty much throughout the wine-producing world. It was commonly used as a major ingredient of certain blended reds, but is increasingly being bottled as a premium monovarietal.

The wines can vary a lot, depending on vineyard location and winemaker style, but the common elements are high acids and tannins over surprisingly soft flavors of red fruit (strawberry, raspberry, cherry); especially when young, it can also exhibit so-called “earthy” overtones (sometimes called, by those who fancy them less, “barnyard” qualities). When not so well grown as it might be, its wines can show pronounced (many would say excessive) jam-like or herbaceous qualities, qualities that are good in moderation but not in excess.

The name by which the grape and its wines is called is chiefly regional: Monastrell in Spain (which produces the largest quantity; Mourvèdre in France (where it is an important grape in Rhône blends); and Mataro in Australia (and often in the U.S. as well, where it is also widely called Mourvèdre). But the careful buyer will also discover Monastrell hiding under several regional blend names, in which blends it is often either the sole or dominating grape; in Spain, those include the appellations of Alicante, Almansa, Jumilla, Valencia, and Yecla. In France, many Rhône reds include significant amounts of Mourvèdre; reds of the Bandol appellation must be at least 50% Mourvèdre. A common blend will feature Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre (the so-called “GSM” blends, in which the Mourvèdre notably contributes color, fruitiness, and some tannins). When grown in the U.S., as it is from California up through Washington State, it produces wines with somewhat less tannin and a smoke/spice/game quality overlaying a cherry-like fruit nature.

Monastrell does not seem to take to oak as much as many comparable red wines, and so is commonly vinified in neutral or large barrels.

Factoid: Monastrell is thought by some to have been introduced into the Iberian peninsula by Phoenician traders as early as half a millennium BC.

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Some Descriptions of Monastrell Wines

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Some Monastrells to Try

(About this list.)

Juan Gil “12 Meses” Jumilla
(Let the “Silver Label” be your guide when shopping: they make several levels of "Meses"—"months"— Jumilla.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Bodegas Volver “Tarima Hill” Old Vines Monastrell
(Do not confuse this with their plain “Tarima” Monastrell.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Enrique Mendoza “La Tremenda” Monastrell
(Have a care: they also bottle a “La Tremenda” white.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Casa Castillo Monastrell
(Don’t confuse this with their “Piè Franco” bottling, listed below as a “splurge” wine.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
  (CellarTracker has this wine under two separate listings.)
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Cline Cellars “Ancient Vines” Mourvedre

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

Our nomination is the Casa Castillo “Piè Franco” Jumilla.

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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This page was last modified on Monday, 23 March 2020, at 3:52 pm Pacific Time.