14 October, 2009

Wine Blogging Wednesday #62: "You say Mourvedre. I say Monastrell" A Grape by any other name.....

The BrixChicks deep love for all things Mourvedre is no secret. So for this Wine Blogging Wednesday challenge, of course we go for a grape with many names, but all with deep color and changeable nature. Since I adore Monastrell from Jumilla, I was happy to try a Monastrell from Alicante and compare it to a "local" Mourvedre; another favorite "River of Skulls". Xandria and I completed this exercise together so I also got to sample her French Mourvedre.

But first a little about Monastrell. I thought it had three names, Monastrell (Spanish), Mataro (Italian) and Mourvedre (French) , but who knew the actual list of names makes it sound like a trendy street drug: "Other names include Alcallata, Alcayata, Alicante, Arach Sap, Balzac, Balzar, Benadu, Beneda, Beni Carlo, Berardi, Bod, Bon Avis, Buona Vise, Casca, Catalan, Cayata, Caymilari Sarda, Charnet, Churret, Damas Noir, Drug, English Colossal, Espagnen, Espar, Esparte, Estrangle-chien, Flouron, Flouroux, Garrut, Gayata Tinta, Karis, Maneschaou, Marseillais, Mataro, Maurostel, Mechin, Monastre, Monastrell Menudo, Monastrell Verdadero, Mourvedre, Mourvegue, Mourves, Murvedr Espar, Negralejo, Negria, Neyron, Pinot Fleri, Plant De Ledenon, Plant De Saint Gilles, Reina, Ros, Rossola Nera, Spar, Tintilla, Tire Droit, Torrentes, Trinchiera, Valcarcelia, Verema, Veremeta, Vereneta" this from Information and Coordination Centre for Biological Diversity (IBV) of the Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE), Deichmanns Aue 29, 53179 Bonn, Germany. http://www.genres.de/idb/vitis/.

I have been most familiar with those Monastrells from Jumilla who bring with them a dusty cocoa blackberry delight, which is similar to the Contra Costa examples I have had as well, so I was also curious to see what differences I would find.

The wine I tried was :

'06 m2 Monastrell, Vinos Sin Ley, Alicante, Spain

The producers goal is to bring fresh modern wines to the market at exceptional prices. At $10.99 for this offering, winemaker Salvador Poveda is doing a nice job. It is a very opaque, dark red wine. The initial nose was banyardy, almost tarry. While the blackberry was prominent, it was more like blackberry cigarettes, with a strong mixed berry component to the aroma. The flavors had a lot of fruit, blackberry and fruit leather flavors with white pepper flashing in the mid palate. As it opened up, it was smoothed out but initially there seemed to be stronger alcohol that the 14.5% listed. All in all, this wine had great QPR and was the most likely to me to be a good tapas wine. I was curious how cool Alicante was compared to Jumilla, but could only drill down that the m2 came from "Zone 8". It was bottled in Monovar in the center of the DO, so perhaps there is a cooling breeze that brings out so much more spice than fruit?

We busted out all the peppers to do an impromptu drill down on the peppery notes. Was it red peppercorns? Green? Black? White? Grains of Paradise? Sumac? Thyme? Lavender? Rosemary? Definitley white. With a little anise as well. Then we read the instructions again, and the suggestion to compare with a more familiar/local version of the other name jumped out and Xandria got me to open a

'06 River of Skulls, Twisted Oak, Calaveras County, $35

This was much more my style. It came out a lovely ruby color and though the bottle indicated 14.7% alcohol, it did not burn my nose as the Spanish (and French) offerings did. The nose had blackberry, cedar and a generous dollop of oak. When I said , "like a walk toward the beach in Bolinas," Xandria snarked, "that's a nice way to say: Lots of oak!". I loved it. And it was the third wine I poured and the first glass I finished. Mixed with a little Syrah, it had gorgeous fruit flavors (but no chocolate). The fruit came from the Dalton Vineyard in Calaveras County and guess what? They too call it "Monastrell"!

Paired with a delicious porkchop, polenta, fresh Chanterelle mushrooms it was a very fun Wine Blogging Wedensday! Thanks, Dale Cruse, for an interesting exercise!


winesleuth said...

WOW! Thanks for the name check on monastrell! I wonder why it has so many names? At least now I know if someone asks me for "drug" they're really asking for mouvedre. Also got a kick out of the name "Beni Carlo", he sounds like the kind of guy who would SELL you drugs! Cheers!

ps. I do like a rich and dark French mouvedre even if it is a blend

Iron Chevsky said...

Nice post! Glad you found the M2 so fascinating. I personally tasted M1 thru M5, and selected M2 for Vineyard Gate because of the QPR. From your description, I can discern that you are more of a new world drinker, and that you definitely saw the additional complexity of the M2 over a domestic, though the domestic was more "delicious" for you. My impression when tasting that M2 had been a wine that delivers well above its $11 price tag, and indeed has good fruit, good acid, and enough complexity to be a great food wine, without being too nerdy.

Liza said...

Hahaha! Sleuth! I think Beni Carlo once in a dark alley! He WAS selling somehting! ;)

liza said...

Iron Chevsky thanks for reading! yes, I am a new world order kinda girl! We also reviewed the m4 previously which surprised me by getting better the longer it was opened. But you are absolutley right: m2 had awesome QPR!

Dale Cruse said...

Thanks for joining us for this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday, Liza. Here’s the link to the start of the roundup: http://drinksareonme.net/2009/10/15/wine-blogging-wednesday-62-a-grape-by-any-other-name/

Dale Cruse said...

Liza, I wanted you to know the link to my wrapup of WBW62 has changed. It can now be found at: http://drinksareonme.net/post/7850281656/wine-blogging-wednesday-62-a-grape-by-any-other-name & I'd appreciate it if you'd consider updating your link. I'd also be thrilled if you'd consider adding me to your Blogroll. Thanks!