Joel Vincent

Technology. Wine. Family. (maybe not in that order)

Wine Blogging Wednesday #7 is here! – Obsure Red Varietals

This week’s edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, “Obscure Red Varietals”, is sure to bring about some interesting information given the huge variety that is possible; we’ll have to refer to our wine chart on the wall to decifer it all. (We’re secretly looking forward to using this as an excuse to actually make a dent in our wine varietal tasting chart).

This week Vivi’s and collaborate to bring you a couple very interesting varietals – Mourvedre from Spain and Nero D’Avola from Italy.

For Vivi’s entry into this week’s Wine Blogging Wednesday we chose Solanera, Yecla, 2002 from Southern Spain. This wine was a recommendation from our friends at that we picked up a couple weeks ago but when the topic of “Obscure Grape Varietals” came up we thought this would actually fit the bill.

The wine itself is actually 65% Monastrell (or Mourvedre) and 35% Cabernet. Its an absolute joy for only $10.99 per bottle and is a must-have for everyday drinking!

Mourvedre is a varietal from Spain where it is also known as Monsatrell. This grape is the second leading red grape variety after Grenache in Spain. It can also be found in southern France and California.

Tablas Creek’s website has good history on this varietal:

Mourvèdre is native to Spain, where it is known as Monastrell and is second only to Grenache (Garnacha) in importance. From the Spanish town of Murviedro, near Valencia, Mourvèdre was brought to Provence in the late Middle Ages where, prior to the phylloxera invasion at the end of the 19th century, it was the dominant varietal.

The phylloxera invasion was particularly devastating to Mourvèdre. Whereas most of the other Rhône varietals were easily matched with compatible rootstocks, Mourvèdre proved difficult to graft with the existing phylloxera-resistant rootstock. Thus, when the vineyards were replanted, most producers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape chose to replant with varieties that were easier to graft, such as Grenache. For decades, Mourvèdre was found almost exclusively in the sandy (and phylloxera-free) soil of Bandol, on the French Mediterranean coast, where it is bottled both as a red wine (blended with Grenache and Cinsault) and as a dry rosé. Compatible rootstocks for Mourvèdre were developed only after World War II. Shortly thereafter, Jacques Perrin of Château de Beaucastel led regeneration efforts in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and made Mourvèdre a primary grape in the red Beaucastel wines. Since the late 1960s, total plantings in Southern France have increased dramatically.

Mourvèdre came to the New World as Mataro (a name taken from a town near Barcelona where the varietal was grown) in the mid to late 1800s. In Australia, it found a home in the Barossa Valley and in California it was first established in Contra Costa County. Until recently, the grape was rarely bottled by itself, and was instead generally used as a component of field blends. The increasing popularity and prestige of Rhône varietals and a return to the French Mourvèdre name has given the varietal a new life. Currently about 400 acres are planted in California.

Tasting Notes:
We have a double tasting note on this wine. Since it was recommended to us by Serge over at we’ll include his impressions as well. Naturally we’ll stick to the WT15 rating system.

We say:

Color is a deep purple with an beautiful chocolate strawberry nose that reminds you of those great chocolate shops where the proprietors dip strawberries right in front of the window to attract customers. The wine comes on strong with a little bit over-tannic taste (nothing that decanting can’t soften up) and more than enough body and intensity to pair with red meat. As you wash it down you can get a glimpse of nutmeg underneath it all and a nice smoky finish. We’d recommend with either food or a nice cigar. Very hard to beat for $11 bucks a bottle.

Serge says:
Non filtered, french oaky vanilla taste, big on the attack and finish.
Our new choice for every day wine.

And we both agree on the rating:

In your mouth
4- smooth and balanced

Bang for a buck, quid, euro
5- buy more and tell your friends $8.99 US

Emotional review
4- Thank you, Sir, may I have another?

13 points

Our second submission comes from directly from Serge at

Planeta, Santa Cecilia, 2002, Italy
We “discovered” Planeta while touring Sicily last year. Fodor Travel guide reccomended it highly,
so we tried at the local restaurant.
We started with Burdese (Cabernet Savignion) and continued with Santa Cecillia (Nero D’Avola) and enjoyed both tremendously.


Planeta Vinery brought new dimension to Sicilian wines, they are not afraid to experiment and are quite popular in USA and Italy. [we had difficulties finding it in SICILIAN stores]

Sicily, world famous for its sweet Marsala wines, is now becoming famous for “California style” reds and whites. Planeta, in particular, has gained huge international acclaim. Their chardonnay is considered the best in Italy as a whole, and their Santa Cecilia (a blend of the local Nero d’Avola, Cab Sauv and Merlot) has become a cult wine.

Here are some highlights about Nero D’Avola from

Nero d’Avola

This hearty red is Sicily’s most popular non-fortified varietal, now Nero d’Avola grapes.produced by numerous Sicilian wineries. Often compared to Syrah, it is sometimes blended with other reds but usually allowed to stand on its own. A full-bodied red like this one is not easily overlooked, and dozens of wineries (including makers of “new wines”) have introduced this varietal to cash in on a profitable trend. To avoid an overpowering taste, the flavor of this wine is best when the grapes are placed in cooled vats at harvest –preferably at night– to prevent conditions which can lead to premature fermentation. This technique, however, is employed by very few wineries.

Tasting Notes
Perfect example of Nero D’Avola at it’s best. Good acidity, mild tanins, dryer than 2001 we had in Italy

In your mouth
4- smooth and balanced

Bang for a buck, quid, euro
3- worth it! $32 at Wine Warehouse

Emotional review
4- Thank you, Sir, may I have another?

11 points


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