Ah, Spain! I started my love affair with Spain quite some time ago. Nowhere in the world will you find more new and exciting wines at such good values. Well, okay . . . there are lots of places, but this is one them. For the wine explorer like me, the thing about Spain, at least from an American perspective, is all the relatively unexplored territory out there. There are so many Spanish regions that make wine that are seldom imported to our shores. Quite often while browsing the current releases Iâ€™ll check the back label and say, â€œHey! I never heard of that one before . . . that goes in the box.â€
This wine is from Valencia, on the Eastern coast of Spain. Does the name sound familiar? Yep! Itâ€™s the place famous for the oranges!
Can you make wine from oranges?
You sure can! It has sugar . . . anything with sugar can ferment!
Would it be a good idea to make fermented orange juice?
Is that what weâ€™re talking about here?
Valencia is a region that apparently does very well with its wines, but there are very few that Iâ€™ve ever seen. This wine being one of three, and the only one Iâ€™d ever tasted. Itâ€™s made with the Monastrell grape, better known as Mourvedre in French wines, or wines from anywhere else . . . except Australia where itâ€™s sometimes Mataro, but I digress. Many of Valenciaâ€™s neighbors in the Spanish Levante produce Monastrell wines as well, often in the value market, and often to great commercial success. Most famously, Iâ€™d say Jumilla leads the pack in Monastrell wines. But weâ€™re not talking about Jumilla, here.
A couple years ago there was an online leak of some misinformation about the Spanish Monastrell being misidentified as Mourvedre, whereas it was actually Graciano, a grape better known in Rioja. This turned out to be untrue and a speculation on certain findings at UC Davis. At the time I believed it, considering that I see little similarity in the way Monastrell performs in Spain to the way Mourvedre performs in Franceâ€™s Bandol or areas of California.
Mourvedre is a heavy, tannic grape that I find has quite fragrant and light floral qualities when grown in slightly cooler climates, like France and California. In hotter climates, such as the Spanish Levante, it takes on even heavier tannins, sometimes velvety, often chewy, but tends towards more meaty, gamy flavors and stewed, black fruits.
Of course, all this description if for naught, since this wine is like neither of those.
I tried this twice, and neither sampling was very favorable. The first time it was in a smaller-bowled glass, and it came across as a bit bland, on the light side of medium bodied. Not quite what youâ€™d expect from a Monastrell, especially from anywhere in the Levante. There was a little bit of spice and a tiny bit of fruit. Imagine a leaf of basil and a single clove (â€˜cloveâ€™ clove, not â€˜garlicâ€™ clove) stewed with blackberries until slightly burned, then diluted 150%. That makes it sound worse than it really was. It also makes it sound more interesting than it really was.
The second sampling was out of larger, Bordeaux-styled glasses. This time it was somehow less distinct. No amount of swirling, sniffing, slurping, or even gargling produced more results. Itâ€™s like when you spend so much time reading that when you go to sleep you have dreams where you are reading, but your mind canâ€™t make up that much text for the virtual pages in your dream â€œbookâ€ for you to actually â€œreadâ€. So in your dream your mind just â€œtellsâ€ you what you are reading rather than reading the virtual text, and then the story never really pans out to be anything worth reading in the first place.
Am I the only one who has those dreams? Hm. Anyway, itâ€™s kinda like that.
Also, once it came to the notes, I realized I couldnâ€™t find the vintage date on the bottle. Sooo . . . I guess that makes it non-vintage. It sometimes makes you wish they would print â€œnon-vintageâ€ on the bottle. The name does read â€œJoveâ€, which I can only assume comes from â€œJovenâ€, or â€œyoung wineâ€. Which this is. Apparently.
The bottom line: Itâ€™s not that interesting beyond the fact Iâ€™d never had a wine from Valencia before. It wasnâ€™t unpleasant, but it was only $8.95 (which comes to about $8.05 after that case discount). That considered, is this a â€œvalueâ€?
I guess the rest of the project may help answer that.