Mourvédre Mode

Maybe it’s because I recently moved from Washington where this grape is thriving but much to my delight, I’ve noticed more and more Mourvèdre being bottled as a single varietal. Mourvèdre is a thick skinned grape, moderately drought tolerant and requires a lot of sunshine to ripen which makes it perfect for eastern Washington and the Sierra Foothills of California – both places where it’s showing off proudly as a single varietal wine.

Mourvèdre is an old varietal and probably first became known in Spain as Monastrell. It gained popularity in France, particularly as Provence’s most noble wine, Bandol. It’s also used in the Southern Rhone wine, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, a blend of at least 13 different grapes and is used in both southern France and Australia to add structure to Grenache and Syrah blends. You may have heard of Mourvèdre referred to as Mataro in Australia (or California back in the day).

The beauty of the desert like sunny days of eastern Washington and parts of California let this grape express it’s complexity and richness giving way to bold blackberry, blueberry and plum fruit with a wonderful hit of freshly ground black pepper that is stunningly unique and enticing. There may also be nuances of lavender, sweet tobacco and cocoa. The Spanish Monastrell will show more roasted meat aromas. An added bonus to Spanish Monastrell, is it’s affordability.

Mourvèdre is a full-bodied wine with big tannins. For me, this is not a patio sipper. I’d pair Mourvèdre with a steak, bbq, or rich tomato based pasta in the middle of winter…or during one of those heavy rainfalls seasons many of us seem to experience now-a-days.

Mourvèdre/Monastrell To Look For ~

Tarima Hill Monastrell, Bodegas Volver, Alicante, SP $14

Terre Rouge Mourvédre, Sierra Foothills, CA $28

Syncline Mourvèdre, Columbia Valley, WA $30

Bunnell Family Cellar, Northridge Vineyard Mourvèdre, WA $36

Domaine Tempier Bandol, Provence, FR $40


Altovinum Evodia – Great Everyday Drinking Wine

On the suggestion of the knowledgable employee at one of my favorite wine stores, I bought a bottle of 2010 Altovinum Evodia to fill out my 6 pack so I could get the 10% discount.  What a score at only $7.99 a bottle!  I went back the next day and bought 6 more bottles.

This wine is made of 100% old vine garnacha (grenache) in the Denominacion de Origen Calatayud region of Spain.  Calatayud is known for having the highest elevation vineyards in Spain and schiste soil which is known for bringing unique characteristics to the wine.

Tasting notes:  ripe dark berries – blueberry, blackberry, mocha, licorice, earthy minerals, spicy with some smoke.  Nice medium to full body, good tannin balance and a very long finish.

So let this be a lesson for us all.  Hopefully the only people you’ll find working at your wine store are people who have a passion for their job (if not, walk away) and whose advice you can confidently take.  If the store is worth anything, the employees will have a good knowledge of the inventory and have tasted most if not all the wines on the shelves.  I know the day I open the doors of my wine shop, you can be assured everyone working there will know the wines and love their job (and hopefully their boss).





A beautiful Spanish red!

I just got off medication that required 10 days of abstinence from wine – wow was that hard!  I don’t practice lent but if I did, I now know I wouldn’t give up wine.  To add salt to the wound, my birthday occurred during those 10 days!

This weekend celebrated the end of my meds!  I’m sure almost any wine would’ve tasted good but the wine I drank seemed utterly exquisite.  I have a hunch that even if it wasn’t my first time to sip vino after “doctor’s orders”  that this wine still would’ve settled me into a dreamy state of mind.

So stop babbling and give you the dirt, right?  The wine was “Black Slate” Porrera Vi de la Vila, Priorat D.O.Q., 2008.  This wine hails from the famous Priorat region in Spain known for it’s unique llicorella soil, a dark brown slate with quarzite adding a “mineral-laden essence”* to the wine.  The wine is a blend of 60% garnacha (grenache) and 40% carinena with dark fruit, spice, mineral and chocolate flavors.  It has a bit of smokiness due to aging 12 months in French oak and finishes smooth like a sultry women in a long, glitzing evening gown.  I especially noticed the wine taking on black cherry flavors as I finished it with a slice of dark chocolate birthday cake that had somehow managed to still be available for consumption.

I purchased this wine on a whim, at first, getting sucked in by the “cool” label.  I hate to admit it but I’m a sucker for good marketing and artsy labels.  Secondly, I was drawn to it because it came from Priorat which is well known for outstanding wine.  I’m happy to say not only did this wine not disappoint but at the reasonable price of about $17 a bottle, it will probably be purchased by the case the next time I’m in the store who so wisely chose to stock this remarkable wine.

*Source:  The World Atlas of Wine, sixth edition, Octopus Publishing group, Ltd., London UK 2007


Enate Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot

I am amazed sometimes at how life’s paths come together. I was living in Japan in the late 1990’s just starting to spread my “wine wings.” My friend, Lynn, and I were great partners in crime, seeking out places to buy wine. On one of the many adventures, we stumbled on this very stylish Enoteca in Tokyo. It became my favorite place. I would stock up and haul bags of wine back to my home on the train that was often filled like a sardine can.
That is when I found the Spanish wine, Enate, specifically their cabernet sauvignon – merlot blend. It was inexpensive and some of the best everyday drinking wine I’d tasted. I drank it regularly from the first day I found it until my feet left the ground of the Kanto Plain for America.
After relocating to America, I started looking for the wine I had grown accustomed to drinking and enjoying so much. I couldn’t find it in any store and even spoke to a few wine distributors. One offered to see if he could get it if I’d be willing to purchase several cases. By that time, I was living in Southern California with no air conditioning and no wine cellar. Lynn, my compatriot mentioned earlier, made a trip back to Japan during this time and was kind enough to get me a couple of bottles……..still the wonderful taste I remembered.
It was here where life’s paths collided. I had almost forgotten about my pal, Enate, until this past September when I was sitting at a wonderful tapas restaurant in Barcelona. As my husband and I were looking over the wine list, I was elated to discover that they had Enate – they even had the cabernet sauvignon-merlot blend! As I was sipping on a glass with great delight, a rush of memories came back about life in Japan, the Enoteca in Tokyo, the sardine can trains, etc. I like how wine has a way of taking you back to the moment when you first discovered a favorite bottle.
It was then that I decided I needed to find out where to buy this pal of mine and take it home. It didn’t take long……it was waiting for me at “El Cellar de la Boqueria” a quaint little store in the very lively “La Boqueria” market. Two cases came home with me and I’ve been savoring them sparingly in hopes of somehow not running out until I know for sure where I can get my next stash.
Tasting Notes: Enate Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, Somontano, 2006
This medium bodied wine has a ruby red color with tastes of blackberry, vanilla and spice rounded out by a toasty finish and balanced acidity.