Monastrell, known here as the Mourvedre grape, is a reliable staple in French and Spanish bottlings. In California, it produces such big and tannic wines that it's primarily used for blending with other grape varieties. The Spanish, however, have no compunction about bottling Monastrell as a stand alone bottling. They have ancient, low yielding vines and have mastered how to tame the wild and wooliness of the grape.
Case in point: Castano Monastrell 2008. It has a dark extracted color with a nose of black plum, blackberry, black strap molasses and savory barbecue sauce. In the mouth, juicy blackberry and blueberry fruit crosses with savory herbs, like sage, marjoram and cumin. It's quite juicy and supple in the mouth, extremely easy to drink, yet dense with flavor though not overtly concentrated.
It's at its drinking peak right now with just the right sense of balance; the flavors rise to a crescendo on mid palate and then do a slow fade to a very pleasant finish. The sustained flavors and heightened acidity invite another sip, especially with food, like burgers, pulled pork and ribs.
Why is this 2008 vintage still in the market place? Well, the 2007 vintage received 90 points from one of the top wine publications, while the 2008 only got 87 points. It's a shame because this wine is very satisfying, in top form and drinking very well right now.
Castano Monastrell 2008 ($ 9.99) is available at Lukas Liquor (Mo.).