Wine Blogging Wednesday brings us a topic by Richard Auffrey of The Passionate Foodie. The topic this month is what he calls “Animal Cruelty”. The grape that coincides with animal cruelty is the Mourvedre grape or the Monastrell Grape. It is also known as Estrangle-Chen translated, the “dog strangler.
I recently had the privilege to spend time with Richard and his wife Juanita at TasteCamp. You can read about escapades with in this blog.
I have never had this wine or this grape. I always go local for Wine Blogging Wednesday, but this one does not allow me to. The Monastrell grape originates from Spain, but it has been found to grow around the world. Here in the United States you can find it in Paso Robles area of California.
From my research about this grape and wine, it is a big wine with big tannins. But it also is known to be very fruit forward and very aromatic. I was very excited to try this because it forced me off Long Island and made me search for something and explore the wines from some place other than Long Island.
So here we go. I went to my local shop, The Old Wine Cellar, where I have gotten to know the people there. They know I like Cabernet Franc so when I walked in, he said to me, “I got a new Cab Franc for you”. But I told him I was looking for the Monastrell Grape. He had two, one he had at his wedding and another that he recommended. They are both from the Jumilla region in Spain. One is fermented in stainless steel from young vines the other is from old vines aged in oak. Both are from the same vintage.
The first one is from Wrongo Dongo in Jumilla Spain. It is the 2007 Wrongo Dongo. It says nothing on the bottle that it is the Monastrell grape, which was a disappointment. I had to rely on the wine shop for the information.
Here are my notes: Red ruby in color in the glass. Immediate nose of spice and dark berry fruit. Some smoky notes and some grilled plum. There was a blackberry, raspberry and blueberry aroma that blended with a black pepper spice note. The taste was bigger ripe fruit with an almost jammy tinge. I was picking up some leather and spice. The tannins were big and chewy, but I was getting a good amount of acid on the tongue. The tannins did not last long and thanks to the acidity, I was craving another sip. As time went on, I was picking up some earthy notes with a hint of peppered meat, like a peppered sausage. On the finish, I was getting a dried oregano note.
This Wrongo Dongo is meant to drink young. The tannins seemed to disappear by the end of the night, and it had a synthetic cork. So if you have it, drink it. I had mine with a grandma pie from the local pizzeria and a splash of Tabasco. I had a very happy evening.
We selected the Monastrell grapes for this wine from 40-year old parcels in our estate vineyards. Here shallow, chalky soils on a bed of limestone and rock, combined with an arid climate, produce the low yields (1,8 ton per acre) required for wine of this complexity. After harvesting, the deep purple grapes are whole-cluster macerated “sur lie” for 25 days, and then pressed and aged for 12 months in French oak barrels.
Just reading the label made me want to pop the cork on this one. I made a grilled rib eye steak with mushrooms and Asparagus Risotto. And I was not disappointed.
On the nose I was picking up some Blueberry and Blackberry notes that were wrapped about a black pepper spice. There was some leather and earthiness. There was some grippy chalky tannins that lifted off and presented some wonderful exotic spice and coca powder. The fruit seemed more concentrated as the night went on. Great acidity and went very well with my dinner.
I happen to like the Juan Gil Monastrell over the Wrongo Dongo. The Juan Gil was a beautiful wine that packed a huge punch. I did not feel strangled by it in any way. It was priced at the wine shop for $11.95 and it was a great deal for a big wine. The Wrongo Dongo was not bad either, it was listed at $9.95. Honestly, both were great wine.
The best way for me to describe these wines to you is simply this. Cabernet Sauvignon meets Pinot Noir. That is the first thought that came into my head while tasting both wines.
This Wine Blogging Wednesday has introduced me to a grape that I am very excited about. The next time I see it and we are out with friends and having steak, this is the wine I will look for. It will impress you as much as it impressed me.
I want to thank Richard for hosting this month’s edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday and I want to thank Lenn Thompson of the New York Cork Report who started this little thing 69 months ago.
Oh and by the way, Neville did grimace and drop his ears and walk away with his tail between his legs when I popped the cork on these two bottles.