AG Pick Under $20: 2005 Castano Solanera

I stumbled upon the 2005 Castaño Solanera in my local wine store.  I thought I would give it a try because it’s a somewhat unusual blend of grapes from Yecla, an emerging wine producing region in southeast Spain.

Castano SolaneraOld vines of the indigenous Monastrell varietal make up 65% of the blend, along with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Tintorera.  Monastrell is the Spanish name for Mourvèdre, a hot-weather varietal grown throughout the Mediterranean region.  A taste of this wine reminds me of bold and earthy wines from the Rhône region of France.

A warning to inexperienced red wine drinkers — this is a big and intense wine both in flavor and in alcohol content (it’s 14.5%).  If you’re bored with the basic Cabernet Sauvignon, give this wine a try.

Solanera is a complex mix of black fruits and earth.  Aromas of smoky blackberry fill the glass.  Flavors of juicy black cherry and blackberry culminate in an exciting spicy and gamey finish.  A hint of fennel at the end refreshes your palate.

Assertive tannins give the wine almost a chewy texture; this is a wine that demands to be served with food.  Pair this with grilled meats that won’t be overpowered by the wine, like steak, lamb and venison.

The 2005 Castaño Solanera costs around $18.  Buy one bottle to drink now and another to drink in a year or two.