The origins of a grape variety are somewhat difficult to determine. Yet over the past couple decades, with DNA testing, there has been consensus of the origins of many of the most well-known grape varieties. Monastrell, as it is called in Spain, is the same grape variety as Mourvèdre (as it is called in the south of France) and Mataro (as it is called in California and Australia). The origins of this variety are in the southeastern part of Spain, near the city of Valencia.
The grape variety can thrive in dry regions and produces full-bodied reds, sometimes with a lot of tannins and with flavors of dark fruit and spice. As with any grape, there are many different interpretations that are highlighted by the local terroir of the winery.
Bodegas Olivares is a reference point for the Monastrell grape. Based in the region of Jumilla, the winery was founded in 1930 by Pascual Olivares Fernández. The family vineyards are located in the subregion of Hoya de Santa Ana, which is in the northwest corner of the appellation. Here, the vineyards are high altitude, over 800 meters, and the soil, a combination of sand and chalk, resisted phylloxera. The vines at Bodegas Olivares are mostly ungrafted, a rarity in Europe.
I’ve been selling “Altos de la Hoya” for nearly two decades, and still to this day it is one of the best red-wine values of Spain. It is also a textbook example of Monastrell.
Made primarily from old-vine Monastrell, the 2020 “Altos de la Hoya” Monastrell was harvested in October, with fermentation in stainless steel tanks. It was aged for six months in French oak barrels, a combination of small barrels and large 60-hectoliter tanks.
Complex aromas of blackberry, wild thyme, and cracked black pepper. Medium-plus in body, with a continuation of the dark fruit on the palate, savory herbs, spice, and soft tannins. Pair this with braised lamb shank.
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