AG Pick: 2007 Juan Gil Monastrell

For Spanish red wine drinkers, Monastrell may not be as popular as Tempranillo but it definitely makes a delicious wine. If you enjoy red wine from France’s Côtes du Rhône region there is a good chance you’ve tasted Monastrell. There (and in the United States) this varietal is called Mourvèdre, and it is often blended with Grenache and Syrah.

Monastrell produces big, bold red wines that can be high in tannins and alcohol. Mixing it with other varietals helps to soften the wine and give it additional structure.

If you’re new to Spanish Monastrell, pick up a bottle of the 2007 Juan Gil Monastrell. This comes from Jumilla in southeast Spain. The wine is 100% Monastrell, which preserves this varietal’s wild and untamed characteristics. Twelve months in French oak barrels adds depth and texture.

When you pour yourself a glass you’ll immediately notice its striking dark cherry and purple color. On the nose are powerful aromas of red berries, black plum and smoke. The palate has juicy flavors of blackberries, currants and cherries that are enhanced by notes of dark chocolate, tobacco, black pepper and cedar. Ripe tannins give the wine a firm yet velvety mouthfeel, making for a long and pleasant sip.

The wine is high in alcohol at 15 percent. You’ll notice this if you try to drink the wine right after pouring it. I recommend decanting the wine or letting it open up for several minutes in the glass.

This full bodied wine demands a rich food pairing. Serve the Juan Gil Monastrell with grilled and stewed meat dishes, hearty mushroom and chicken dishes and game meats.

For its flavor and structure, the 2007 Juan Gil Monastrell is a great value at $14 a bottle.

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