Spain’s well-known regions are coveted, appreciated and are sought after – Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Rias Baixas, and Priorat. And yet there is a whole world of Spain that needs to be discovered and is in the process of being discovered – Bullas, Alicante, Bierzo, Campo de Borja, Reuda, Basque Country. Spain in many ways is thought of as a wine producing country dominated by Tempranillo and Cava (Xarel-lo and Parellada) and maybe a smaller extent Albariño that are at the centre of attention. Spain is growing many varieties with excellence: Monastrell, Viura, Verdejo, Bobal, Mencia, and yes International varieties quite well. Spain’s landscape is varied and every climate type is well represented and hence can support a cavalcade of wine grape varieties.
All of Spain’s well-known wine countries have done an outstanding job of developing, refining and defining their wines as well as their markets. Wine doesn’t sell itself—people grow grapes, create wine, and people are integral to selling wine and those people can only sell wine if and only if they are definitively outstanding in quality and artistry. I don’t’ hear many people talk about wine as art and some times that is part of the equation of good versus great. Great wines are by design—pardon me by saying this—not all wines are simply just created in the vineyard. This may sound good but it is through tremendous effort great wines are created. Artistry is an important feature and to think of the blend and which in many respects many wines are. Think of varietal wines and there is often a touch of one or several varieties and that is truly the winemakers artistic decision/direction—making as it relates to the most expressive and lyrical of wines.
On my visit to Spain (March 2015) is to taste from regions that are slowly gaining traction and that I don’t taste from frequently – Alicante, Jumilla, Bierzo, and Bullas. Today I visited Sierra Salinas and producing phenomenal Monastrell (Mourvèdre) and I would position that these wines as definitively world class. Monastrell can be a straight shot to a singular note of chocolate or cacao (when I taste a Monastrell I find many too linear and not very interesting). Sierra Salinas has several wines that I found to be stunningly gorgeous where the lead variety is Monastrell and I love it when a spectacular wine can be confident but not showy; when a wine is reliant on excellence of fruit, process, barrel time, and time in bottle for a glass that needs to be refilled again and again.
I’ll be writing up more of Sierra Salinas wines—I do want to point to Mira Alicante 2010 9.4 (94 Points) which a wine composed of 70% Monastrell, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet) at a 15% ABV—a higher ABV that some might feel comfortable with shows how these varieties play well together and does not show heat. This wine has a great depth of silken texture, not flashy but confident. My initial experience with this particular wine is an appreciable experience of weight and texture—truly silken, truly even. The scent notes exhibits blackberry, red cherry, forest floor, leather, suede and pepper. The flavour notes exhibit Tayberry, blackberry, Thyme, white pepper, and a very small amount of chocolate. This wine estate was a landscape of many head trained vines and the oldest on site are 90 years old on a blanket of red clay, large stones and situation in a valley with Sierra Salinas as the visual crown jewel in this landscape.
I appreciated the wines are on their own but coming together was a regional Paella of rabbit and snails and another of chicken was especially convincing. And made me think of the excellence of these from Sierra Salinas. A high recommendation to taste these beautiful wines where Monastrell is the star. More to come from this magical journey! Stay tuned.
Restaurante Mesón La Despensa
Calle Cervantes, 27, Villena, Alicante
965 80 83 87
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