Last night, my daughter and I decided to have an Old World vs. New World varietal contest. We chose Monastrell vs. Mourvedre. The Monastrell was the Honora-Vera 2016 from Jumilla DOP, Spain and the Mourvedre was the Hart 2015 from Temecula Valley, California. Interesting to note the Old World was 14.5% alcohol and the New World was just 12.8% alcohol. The Honora-Vera had a lovely purple/ruby color which was darker than the Hart. It was fuller bodied, had minerals, green pepper, unsweetened chocolate and dried herbs on the nose with additional flavors of dark cherry and dried cranberry on the palate. The Old world was bush trained in limestone at a 2300 foot elevation with low yields. The finish was longer than the Hart at about 31 seconds.
The Hart had a nice color of Garnet/Mahogany with aromas of berries, cherries, leather, oak and red pepper. The palate had additional cherry, mocha, oak and tannins. It was VSP trained and was medium bodied. Both had some earthy notes while the Hart was much more fruit forward.
We paired the wines with brisket, rice noodles and steamed broccoli. The Honora-Vera was an excellent, complementary, pairing for the brisket, while the Hart was too fruit forward and oaky for the pairing. Though in the case the Old World wine was higher in alcohol, it still was the better choice for food. In my studies, I frequently find the Old World wines complement food, while the new world wines are better drunk on their own.
I was hoping to have my contest with one of our delicious Arizona Mourvedres, but alas, in my wine storage, they were all drunk! This Old World- New World contest was a blast and I look forward to doing it again soon.
Today, September 21, 2018 is International Grenache Day. The Grenache grape is originally from Spain where it is called Garnacha and is frequently made into a single varietal wine. In Italy, it is known as Cannonau, and was also found early on in Sardinia. In the Southern Rhone area of France, it is called Grenache and is used as a blending grape in a Cotes du Rhone, where it is normally blended with Syrah and Mourvedre, though it can be blended with any of the approved grapes in the area. There is Grenache Noir, Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris. It is also used in the making of a lovely Rose’ from the Tavel appellation in Southern Rhone blended with Cinsault.
You’ll find quite a bit of it in Australia and California. I recently listened to a wonderful podcast from the Guild of Sommeliers talking about Rhone Varietals in Paso Robles. They are producing Grenache as a standalone variety and having quite a bit of success.
In Arizona you’ll see a lot of Grenache. Though it is often used in a GSM blend (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre), it is frequently produced as a single varietal wine and also as a Rose’.
Depending on where it’s grown, it can have amazing aromas and flavors including cherry, vanilla, jam raspberry, strawberry, pepper and other spices.
So crack open a bottle of Garnacha, a Cotes du Rhone, a GSM or an Arizona 100% Grenache and celebrate!
This week I have been revisiting Spain in my studies. Instead of trying a classic Rioja this time, I found a Spanish, Rhone style blend with 50% Garnacha and 50% Syrah and no Mouvedre which is called Monastrell in Spain. In Arizona, we have many GSM’s (Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre blends) which is a classic Rhone style.
The Agoston 2015 is from the DOP of Carinena, near the Iberico Mountain range, and the DO dates back to 1932. It’s close to the city of Zaragoza in Aragon in the Northeast corner of Spain. The Wild Boar on the label references the animals coming into the vineyards from the forest nearby and nibbling on the fruit. Again, it reminds me of our local Arizona Javelina, though a total different animal.
This dry red wine was a beautiful color of purple/ruby and had a medium body. The nose had aromas of cherry and vanilla and the palate was fruity with notes of cherry, raspberry, vanilla and pepper. This is definitely fruit forward, more New World in style, but not as jammy as a California blend and to me more food friendly. It had 13.5 % alcohol, medium acidity and finished at around 25 seconds.
What was surprising was that even after 2 days, the wine was still quite drinkable. At under $12, this is a great, easy drinking choice.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive, easy drinking red then the Bolla, Rosso Veronese 2013 is a good choice for under $10. This IGT (Indicasione Geografica Tipica, the category above table wines in Italy) was clear with a Ruby-Garnet color and had 12.5% alcohol. According to their tech sheet, the grapes used were Corvina, Rondinella, Merlot and Cabernet. The nose displayed aromas of earth, cherry and alcohol, the later of which blew off after being opened for around 10 minutes. It had a medium body with low tannins and the flavor showcased notes of cherry, plum, black fruit, cinnamon and vanilla. The finish however was quite short at around 15 seconds. It paired nicely with my chicken stir fry but, would also accompany mature cheeses and meats beautifully.
Sue Schurgin, CSW, (Certified Specialist of Wine). WSET II, is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours. She loves wine and beer education and is also a Level 1 Sommelier.
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