On a recent visit to Spain where my daughter is currently on her year abroad studying for her degree in Spanish/Italian at the University of Murcia my aim was to try some alternatives to Rioja and try local wines made with grapes of the area, oh yes, also managed to fit in seeing our daughter as well.
Monastrell (Mataro in Spain) also known as Mourvedre is from the Jumilla region which is situated just north of Murcia, it features heavily around the bars and restaurants, often used blended but it can be found in its 100% form widely around Murcia. This thick skinned grape makes wines that are high in tannins, plenty of dark fruit flavours with spice and sometimes slightly herbal. The Monastrells I tasted were bright and juicy, vanillary, full of dark cherries, slightly tart and quite meaty in flavour and very tannic.
Browsing the shelves of local wine shops and supermarkets (while my wife and daughter were off browsing the local clothes shops) there were lots of reasonably priced local wines on show and I took a chance with a couple and as it turned out, both were pretty decent.
The first was a ‘2007 Serrella’ a blend of Monastrell, Pinot Noir and Petit Verdot, priced on offer at just over 7 euros. When poured it was very dark in colour with a rusty tinge to the rim, it had heady aromas of Morello cherries, plums and dark chocolate. If I’m honest the taste was not what I expected after the lovely smells coming from the glass. On first sip it was initially bright fresh and very fruity but did have a sharp sour finish, it also had a rustic harshness about it, although strangely I still thought it was still a pretty good tasting wine. I kept a little back for the next day and it became a totally different drink it was smoother, slightly sweeter, dark fruits were still there and a little tobacco was coming through.In hindsight I think I should have let this breathe for at least a couple of hours and it would have made for a better first experience. Overall though for the price a big thumbs up.
The second bottle was the ‘Senorio de Bullas Reserva 2009’, around 9 Euros again reduced on offer.
Now this was a different beast altogether, a blend of Monastrell and Syrah. When poured it was very dark almost inky in colour but after sticking my nose in the glass and giving a good sniff not much was coming out, there was a little plum and woodiness but not much else.
I drank this straight after opening and was instantly impressed with its intense and powerful flavour, oaky, dark ripe plums, liquorice, figs and spices. Still a little tart on the finish and quite tannic but the taste was much better than the nose suggested, very much the opposite of the Serrella. The similarity to the previous wine was again on the second day, much smoother, less tannic altogether nicer to drink especially as a stand alone drink without food.
Drank quite a few different Monastrells and Monastrell blends in the local bars during my week in Murcia not paying much more than 1 to 2 Euros a glass and most of them very nice with a few exceptions. Great to taste these local wines and great to see our daughter, shame her time in Murcia is coming to an end, it really is a brilliant place, good food, friendly people and good wine.SE
Serrella 7.5/10 Corks
Senorio de Bullas 8/10 Corks