A First Course in Wine: From Grape to Glass. Copyright 2013; Race Point Publishers, NY. 224 pages. Forward by Mario Batali.

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Get To Know Your Grapes: Monastrell

Jumilla DO, Spain's hub for Monastrell winesMonastrell is Spain’s second most-widely planted variety after Grenache (Garnacha).  The grape is more commonly referred to as Mourvèdre in parts of southern France, where it’s used prominantly in the Bandol appelation, as well as other parts of the Rhône Valley and Provence.  In Spain, Monastrell produces wines with depth and color that mirror some of the best Rioja wines, exhibiting flavors of mushroom, herbs, and blackberries.  In some cases, Monastrell wines also offer subtle charred flavors and bitter cranberry fruits.

The majority of Monastrell wines come from an appellation in southern Spain called, Jumilla.  Due to the intense heat that accumulates in the valleys, many wines have rather a high alcohol content (16-18%), although improvements in the wineries are helping to reduce these levels.  If you prefer rich, opulent, jammy wines with strong tannins, many of the wines from Jumilla are worth checking out.  Due to the low exposure of these wines to the  marketplace, many can be found for under $20 as well.  Look for producers:  Bodegas Silvano Garcia, Finca Luzon, Bodegas Juan Gil, Casa de la Hermita, and Bodegas Olivares.


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