2008 Altos del Cuco Monastrell / Syrah / Tempranillo
What the hell is Monastrell?
After thinking for a bit that I’d hit my 42nd variety en route to the Wine Century Club, a quick search dans le Goog reveals it instead to be a synonym for Mourvedre. The most famous such synonym, in my opinion, is Syrah/Shiraz, but I’ve discovered a few during my journey to try to nail down 100 different wine varieties, including Zinfandel/Primitivo, and Tempranillo/Tinta Roriz.
Add Mourvedre/Monastrell to the list. Which is good in at least one way: I don’t feel as bad for never having even heard of Monastrell before this wine hit my doorstep.
OK, so on to the wine itself, which, for purposes of always trying to toss as much information down your gullet as I can, hails from D.O. Yecla, Spain, and retails for damn near pennies. The varietal breakdown is 40% Monastrell, 30% Syrah, 30% Tempranillo. If the wine had a major identity crisis, that would be 40% Mourvedre, 30% Shiraz, 30% Tinta Roriz. But I digress.
The wine is very opaque in the glass, nearly black at the core but fading to a very nice ruby red at the edges. The nose is full of fruit, of black cherry jam and raspberries. On the palate, the Altos del Cuco is medium-bodied, young and vibrant. The black cherry jam makes itself known here, and there’s also a mild spice of some sort that does well to balance out the fruitiness and keep this from being a ridiculous fruitstrosity.
Not the best wine in the world, but eminently drinkable, and thoroughly enjoyable. This is party wine, frankly, and while it may not pair easily with lots of food, it’s the perfect before- or after-dinner wine to imbibe with friends.
And you can do so much worse at this price point.
(full disclosure: I received this wine as a press sample from Opici Import Company)