Before we go any further, we know you have to be wondering a couple of things, not the least of which are two rather obvious questions: What is a Monastrell? And where in the world is Yecla? Now that we have gotten that out of the way we can proceed. As the wise old sage once said, “All will be revealed in good time.” Castillo del Baron is fast establishing itself as one of the world’s most consistent producers of quality wines at affordable prices, from anywhere. Serious wine critics heap multitudes of praise upon this large bodega, hailing its wares as “the best kept secret in quality wine,” and that is probably because almost no one can locate Yecla on a map, let alone make his way there, and even fewer consumers know what a Monastrell is. Nevertheless, Castillo del Baron’s reputation continues to grow, and with good reason. Entirely family owned and run, this wonderful, off the beaten path estate has a knack for producing wines with both character and a soul from up to date technology. Yecla, which also happens to be the center of the Spanish furniture industry, is located deep in the dry mountainous interior of southeastern Spain, some fifty kilometers from the picturesque Costa Blanca resorts that lie along the gleaming Mediterranean. In other words, Yecla is situated southwest of Valancia and northwest of Alicante, or more plainly put; it’s in the middle of nowhere – just where it ought to be. Yecla has not traditionally been one of Spain’s more renowned wine regions nor has it been a hot bed of viticultural excellence, despite the multitude of thirsty tourists that descend upon nearby resorts every year; however, all that is changing thanks to Castillo del Baron. Finally, the Renaissance has arrived in Yecla. What distinguishes Yecla from other hot country interior wine regions is first and foremost the terroir, a combination of soil, climate, elevation, exposure, and the total environment conducive to vines. In Yelca, an excellent mixture of stony limestone soils and high altitude (2000-2500 feet), where cool sea breezes penetrate, offer the potential to make more than a decent every day wine. Moreover, the investment, will, and varietal selection made by Castillo del Baron are now ensuring that Yecla’s potential is finally being realized. And as the tasting panel is fond of saying, “One can’t have too many faithful friends, too much love, or enough fine wine.” So, bravo and muchos kudos to Castillo del Baron! The final piece to the quality quotient at Castillo del Baron is the choice of grape variety – Monastrell. Better known around the world by its French name Mourvèdre, this ancient variety is believed to have its roots, literally and figuratively, in southeastern Spain in and around Yecla. Indeed, there is a village not far form Yecla called Murviedro, which may well have given the grape its more common name. Today, in southern France, especially in Provence, Languedoc, and along the Rhône, Mourvèdre/Monastrell is an essential component in nearly every serious red blend. In addition, Mourvèdre is the grape solely responsible for the great wines of Bandol, which remains one of France’s best-kept wine secrets. Undoubtedly, Monastrell is well suited to warm Mediterranean climates, where it ripens late, a trait that tends to preserve the natural acidity in grapes, resulting in fresh, highly flavored wines. Thus, Castillo del Baron and Yecla are now on the viticultural map.