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If you love big, rich and intense red wines, have I got a grape for you!
Called Monastrell in Spain, the grape is known as Mourvèdre in France and frequently used in the famous blends of Bandol, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and Côtes du Rhône. However, the variety’s birthplace is in the small region of Jumilla (pronounced who-ME-ah) in southeastern Spain.
Jumilla has a long and fascinating cultural and natural heritage of wine growing, and the oldest remains of vitis vinifera seeds in Europe were recently discovered there. Many other archaeological remains have also been found in the area, including a pair of earrings shaped as grape bunches that date from the fourth century BC.
In modern times, Jumilla is one of the oldest DOPs (denominación de origin Protegida) in Spain, established in 1966. Today Jumilla has the distinction of being home to Europe’s single largest collection of 90-year-old ungrafted vines, with Monastrell being the main grape variety. Other red grape plantings include Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha Tintorera. White and sweet wines are also made in Jumilla in a much smaller quantity, about 10% of the area’s total production.
A bold and aromatic red wine, Monastrell wines are an intense purplish red color with a strong fruit character (ripe black fruits like blackberries and dark cherries) and powerful tannins. The wines, particularly those aged in wooden barrels, are full-bodied with a silky mouthfeel. Rosés made with Monastrell are fresh and fruity with floral aromas and a long, lingering finish.