The 2017 Rayen Monastrell lives up to Monastrell’s reputation for yielding deeply colored, boldly flavored wines. Purple with a bluish tinge, this scion from the sun-splashed land of Castilla makes a statement even before one’s nose or mouth can greet the glass. Forceful and tannic, but not hard-edged, this youthful Monastrell from Castilla La Mancha delivers plenty of savory berry and black fruit scents and flavors along with hints of clove, vanilla, and other spices. Unctuous and mouth filling, Rayen’s 2017 Monastrell may not be complex, but it certainly is satisfying. For optimal enjoyment, we suggest allowing this tasty Monastrell at least a few minutes of aeration before serving it cool (58°-60° F). Enjoy!
The 2017 Rayen Vino de la Tierra de Castilla is an easy wine to like and to pair with a wide array of foods. For starters, one might consider roasted tomato bruschetta topped with shaved Manchego or Feta. As an accompaniment to a main course, one of our favorite offerings with any good Spanish red wine remains lamb, either in the form of marinated kebobs or as the finest cut of grilled chops. A simple corn, bean, and mango salad pairs well with this wine, too, and it offers a delicious alternative to meat. This salad accentuates the lush fruit of the Rayen Monastrell. Rayen’s 2017 Monastrell can also turn midweek staples such as juicy hamburgers, flautas, ribs, pork barbecue, and chicken carnitas into a veritable treat. Buon Provecho!
Rayen was born in the heart of Spain’s Castilla La Mancha in vineyards surrounded by wildflowers and the natural flora of Castilla. Rayen, meaning wild flower in the Mapuche language, fashions several wines, including a tasty Sauvignon Blanc and three distinct varietal wines from Spain’s most important indigenous grape varieties: Garnacha, Monastrell and Tempranillo. Rayen’s vineyards at varying altitudes cover more than 700 acres, which assures the ideal climate and terroir for each of the winery’s varietals. Rayen’s 2017 Monastrell is this month’s feature. It is made by Terramagna in Castilla La Mancha in the group’s state of the art winery.
Monastrell is a thick, dark skinned grape indigenous to the warmest wine growing regions of Spain. It thrives in parts of Castilla La Mancha, Catalonia, Jumilla, and Yecla in particular, where it yields tannic, deeply colored wines with plenty of dark fruit and spice tones. Monastrell remains the 5th most widely planted grape in Spain.
Monastrell likely draws its name from either the city of Muviedro, the former Moorish name for the city of Sagunto near Valencia, or from Mataro, a city in Catalonia near Barcelona. The name Mataro is often used in place of Monastrell, especially in California where the grape has grown successfully for more than a century.
In France and throughout much of the New World, Monastrell is better known as Mourvèdre. Recent DNA testing has determined that Monastrell, Mourvèdre, and Mataro are one and the same grape variety. In Provence, the Rhône Valley, and throughout much of southern France, Mourvèdre is rarely bottled as a varietal except in the prestigious Bandol appellation of Provence. Elsewhere, it plays a major supporting role in the finest red wines of the southern Rhône, including top Châteauneuf-du-Papes and the legendary Château Beaucastel. Australia also relies heavily on Mourvèdre as the grape figures significantly in Australia’s signature GSM blends. Mourvèdre, under the moniker Mataro, has also been a staple in many of California’s greatest Zinfandels. Only recently in California has Mourvèdre begun to be bottled as a single varietal, but given the proliferation of old vine Mourvèdre, we are likely to see more single bottlings of this flavor-packed robust varietal.
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