Category Archives: Mourvèdre / Monastrell / Mataro

2010 Hearthstone Estate “Lodestone”

Paso Robles (Adelaida), CA; 14.8% AVB
Received as a sample for review from Palo Alto on December 27th.

hearthstone_lodestone-1This is the second of my two bottles of the recently arrived Hearthstone Estate wines. I was excited to try something different from this producer as I liked the “Paso Superiore “(66% Sangiovese, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Cabernet Franc), and this one had a completely different makeup (60% Syrah, 22% Grenache, 18% Mourvedre). While they are different wines, they are made very much in the same style, and I quite liked this one, perhaps even a bit more than I liked the “Paso Superiore.”

The common thread I found between this wine and the “Paso Superiore” is the cleanness and purity of the fruit flavors done in a more subtle, nuanced style. This isn’t a sledgehammer and would also make quite a nice food wine. I got some black cherry and blackberry on the nose with a little smokiness coming out as the wine aired. On the palate I got dark fruit, some well integrated oak notes, a little pepperiness that bordered on the green/herbaceous side (not unpleasantly so) framed by some tangy acidity and soft tannins that took about an hour to emerge. We opened this with friends and quite enjoyed it so none survived to see the next day.

A repeat buy and thumbs up for me. I visited the Palo Alto store yesterday and this wine was still available in good quantity for $6.99 per bottle.


Alta Vineyards 2010 “Nonno’s Rosso”

33% Zinfandel, 23% Alicante Bouschet, 23% Syrah, 21% Mourvedre; 14.8% ABV
Sonoma County, CA
produced and bottled by Seghesio Family Vineyards (info sheet here PDF)
$10 at the Richmond, CA, store on 15 July

AltaVineyards_2010_NonnosRossoThis wine looked like an unusual offering from the GO, so I made a pricey indulgence.  🙂

On first pour, it tasted of roughly textured fruit, startlingly acid.  After about two hours (I think, I’m afraid I lost track this time) in a decanter, the fruit had smoothed out and darkened, but the acid was still on the strong side for contemporary CA winemaking, more like an Italian wine.  Very enticing nose of red / purple and black fruit. On the palate, tangy dark fruit of black raspberry / boysenberry and purple plum jam, allspice / black pepper, and wood / black earth / hint of tar, with a touch of hibiscus tea in the acid.  After about 2:40 in a decanter, the fruit becomes much softer and riper, with the acid becoming more integrated and less sharp.  IMO, this is very good wine for the price.

A couple days later, the saved single-glass, screwcap bottle still needed a bit of air for the acid to die down a little, but not all that long, and it’s not that bad a little on the acid side, too.  Unfortunately from my perspective, it never reached the soft, dark and rich state that the first portion of the bottle did.  Instead, it was always more medium purple and more acid.  So…  I’d guess you shouldn’t keep this wine that much longer.

VQ 2012 Cuvée VIII red blend

25% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Tempranillo, 10% Carignane, 10% Petite Sirah
5% Cinsault, 5% Mourvèdre, 5% Counoise, 5% Graciano; 14% ABV
from Odisea Wine Company, Napa, CA
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 1 July

VQ_2012_CuveeVIIII was definitely intrigued by this complex sort-of Rhone-style blend, and the not-bad label.  When I looked at the blend, I thought, “Hey, it’s missing Zinfandel!”  It turns out that I think the easiest description of this wine is “Zinfandel,” although with kind of strong acid.

On the first night, the flavors were immediately interesting and quite complex, but the sharp acid overwhelmed the pleasure I found in it.  After 2 – 2.5 hours in a decanter, the acid had mellowed somewhat, and the flavors were still very nice: darker red and purple fruits, with earth, prune, slight herbs, and spice, quite assertively complex.  Still, I hoped the second half would be more mellow.

Indeed, the second half (stored in a 375ml screwcap bottle with very little air) was a bit better.  All the flavors were nicely integrated and tasty, and the acid had calmed down significantly.  However, the acid was still strong enough that I’d probably not get another bottle, even if I were not inclined to get something new to review.  It was fine enough with food, though.

“Cuvée Darius” 2013 Fitou

Appellation Fitou Protégée, France
40% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 30% Syrah; 13% ABV
$6 on 4 July

CuveeDarius_2013_FitouThe Wikipedia entry on Fitou wine says that any Fitou AOC wine is required to be at least 40% Carignan.  This wine is clearly not AOC and has no Carignan, so it seems likely of a lesser designation.  Still, I hoped it would be a satisfying wine given how rarely southern French appellations show up at the GO.  I found it lighter-bodied, but pretty tasty.

As per my usual, I thought it needed about 1.5 – 2 hours in a decanter to open up, and it kept improving from there.  It showed the ripe, tangy, earthy / funky style I adore, pleasantly complex if hardly overpowering: black and red raspberry, purple grape, blackberry, funky black earth, slight roses close to the acid, in the finish some woody / earthy complexity / richness.  The GO “Elsewhere” price for this wine is $20, but I cannot believe this wine ever sold for $20.  It’s just not that substantial.  Online prices I found were $8.  It’s still a pretty tasty wine for $6, but it would be a better bargain for $5.

The next day, the second half, stoppered in a 375ml bottle with very little air, was more soft and rich, slightly redder and more acid, less overtly complex.  It was still yummy but, especially toward the end, seemed to be falling apart.  Overall, it’s probably better on the first day.

As a word of warning, JoelA wrote about this wine:

Had somewhat high (well, medium-high) hopes for this wine, a GSM (40/30/30) blend from one of the older appellations in the Languedoc (southern France) area.
Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver. On opening, a dark purple color, very fruity entry with significant tannin (it’s young, after all). But the wine quickly faded, to the point that the same evening it could easily be drunk with some broiled trout, and the next day was pretty flaccid.

This was a bit different from my experience, so there may be some bottle variation.

McPherson 2012 “Basilisk” Shiraz – Mourvedre

Victoria, Australia
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on about 12 Feb

McPherson_2012_BasiliskThis is a wine that had long intrigued me, especially after its praise from Weinish, Seedboy, and BdB.  However, I didn’t like my bottle very much.

The first ¾ of the bottle aired pretty well to show nice boysenberry / black raspberry fruit, with nicely floral notes of red roses / violets.  However, I found it always out of balance, with the acid too strong for the fruit.

The saved single-glass, screwcap bottle did show nicely darker and riper fruit, but was drowned out by unpleasant bitterness, so I didn’t really like either the first or second days that much.  Was my bottle just off?

Barahonda Sin-Madera 2012 un-oaked Monastrell

Yecla DO, Spain; 14.5% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 30 Nov

Barahonda_2012_MonastrellI like Mourvèdre and this un-oaked Spanish version looked pretty interesting.  I thought it was pretty good but not especially exciting, either.

The wine was tasty to drink soon after opening, but it darkened and became more complex over time to show somewhat tangy and earthy, dark red cherry / plum, prune, and a hint of licorice.  It was pretty tasty with our pizza (no tomatoes) and pretty good on its own, but didn’t really grab me.

The next day, the saved, single-glass, screwcap bottle was a little redder and more acid, but in compensation, the earthy complexity was a little more prominent.

David Girard 2011 Coda Rouge

46% Mourvédre, 36% Syrah, 15% Grenache, 3% Counoise; 14.2% ABV
El Dorado AVA, California
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 9 October

DavidGirard_2011_CodaRougeWhile I would normally jump on a Californian Rhone-style blend like this, the wine through the bottle, although it had a nice darker red / orange color, looked rather translucent.  Still, color saturation is not everything, and I had liked the Girard Roussanne, so decided to try this one, too.

The wine starts with dark red cherries — in a range from tart red — to ripe red — to dried — with the characteristic Sierra Foothills rich, brown earthiness / red brick.  It’s fairly simple, and with some of the cheap oak flavor I dislike.  I thought it finally integrated nicely after about 2:15 of air, and it continued to darken nicely to black raspberry and cherry later in the evening.  However, I really wish they hadn’t used the liquid oak extract or wood chips in a bag or whatever, because it totally obscures what seemed to be a nice, subtle blend of Rhone-style Sierra Foothills flavors.

The saved, single-glass, screwcap bottle was unfortunately even worse.  It was quite sulfurous right away, and remained rather roughly sulfurous for the hour or two over which I consumed it.  Even at $4, I think I have to go with Thumbs Down.

Lo Nuevo “L’Opaco” 2012 Garnacha Tintorera – Monastrell

95% Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet), 5% Monastrell (Mourvèdre); 14.5% ABV
Old Vines and Estate Grown in Almansa DO, Spain
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 30 Sept

LoNuevo_2012_GarnachaTintoreraMonastrellTwo or three months ago, a MonastrellGarnacha from Lo Nuevo showed up at the Richmond store.  I was pretty eager to try it until a customer said it reminded him of a late harvest Zinfandel, which I thought was not at all what a Spanish dry red should taste like.  Today, we got a couple more Lo Nuevo wines: a Merlot and this wine.  Of course, I’m a sucker for an unknown varietal, so I bought one.  It turns out that Garnacha Tintorera is another name for Alicante Bouschet, which the wiki page says is one of the few red-fleshed grapes in the Vitis vinifera species.  I have thought of Alicante as a grape making uninterestingly coarse wines, but while this wine is certainly not going to win any prizes for elegance, I liked it quite a lot.

On opening, the wine was rather rough and acid.  However, in the glass, it smooths out pretty quickly to show smooth, darker red cherry and raspberry fruit, still with plenty of tasty, ripe acid.  After about 70 minutes in a decanter, the “grip” of the wine relaxes, and the flavors keep evolving nicely for the next hour or so.  At that time, it has rich flavors of blackberry / purple grape, red plum / black cherry, some herbaceous bitterness of stem / seed / tar, still backed by strong, ripe acid.  My thought after the first evening is that you should try this especially if you like Petite Sirah, another grape with powerful, rich fruit and strong acid.  I thought it was pretty good and interesting wine, although not stellar.

However, the saved, single-glass, screwcap bottle was a real treat!  It had integrated much more fully to show slightly tangy and syrupy flavors of blackberry / dark blueberry, brown sugar, dark purple plum / grape, very dark red raspberry, with slight tar, all supported with the same acid.  I am tempted to get another bottle so I can try decanting it, immediately pouring it back into the bottle and putting the cork back in, and drinking it the next day.  🙂

Marvelous 2011 Rhone-style red

Wine of Origin Western Cape, South Africa
83% Syrah, 9% Grenache, 5% Viognier, 3% Mourvèdre; 14.5% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store in the last week or so

Marvelous_2011_RhoneBlendAt opening, this wine showed quite simple, light red cherry fruit with a little sweetness of oak.  After 1.5 – 2 hours in a decanter, the fruit darkens and becomes more complex, becoming dominated by flavors of boysenberry / blackberry, less ripe blueberry, and black earth / pepper, still in a lighter body, and still with the artificial-tasting sweetness of cheap oak flavor.  (I think what I have been objecting to as “American Oak” is actually wood chips thrown into the wine or something called liquid oak extract.)  The wine is yummy enough for easy drinking, but I wasn’t that fond of it.

The saved, single-glass, screwcap bottle was smoother richer, more integrated, but otherwise about the same.

Bellum 2005 “Providencia” Old Vine Monastrell

Bellum Label Pic100% Monastrell; 15% ABV Yecia, Spain
$5 at the Point Loma – San Diego CA, store on 9  Aug

This was an interesting pickup if only because of the fact that it may be my first 100% Spanish Mourvedre (Monastrell) and is certainly the oldest at drinking. This particular Old Vine designated wine is made from 50+ year old grapes. Upon first pour, the wine showed as dark, tannic and quite hot and needed a lot of air. While the mid palate contained nice notes of dark berries and some vanilla, with some earthy additions throughout, two components were difficult to get past – heat and ruby port-like flavor.

This wine is labeled at 15% and I would bet its actual ABV is considerably higher than that and whatever Spain allows by law as far as variation is concerned. The wine did not evolve that much in the glass nor was it helped by being stoppered in a 375ml bottle overnight or with tasting on day 3.

In short, I believe this wine is in the middle of a downhill plunge and I did not find it enjoyable nor representative of my experiences with Monastrell/Mourvedre in the past.