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Bodegas Carchelo Jumilla Monastrell Mourvedre 2004
Bodegas Carchelo was founded in the early 1980s in one of the earliest efforts to bring Jumilla into the age of modern wine. In addition to the indigenous Monastrell (Mourvèdre) variety, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are grown to enhance structure. Achieving a fresh and balanced style, by the early 1990s Carchelo's rich young red had put Jumilla on the road to international respectability.
Located at altitudes between 2,000 and 3,500 feet in the transition between Spain's coastal plain and inland La Mancha, Jumilla's aridity combines to result in fresh nighttime temperatures during the hot growing season. Chalky and clay soils offer ideal footing for the red varieties. At under eight inches of rain per year, grape health is seldom a problem. 700 acres of estate vineyards are planted to Monastrell (Mourvèdre, both ungrafted head-pruned and wire trained vineyards), Syrah, Tempranillo, Cabernet and Merlot, and are located in a wide variety of subregions, altitudes and exposures, reducing the risk of frequent hail damage in the area.
Estate vineyards are located in five distinct Jumilla subregions with varying exposures and soil profiles, assuring a healthy diversity of fruit and vintage consistency.
Known for bold reds, crisp whites and distinctive sparkling and fortified wines, Spain has embraced international varieties and wine styles while continuing to place primary emphasis on its own native grapes. Though the country’s climate is diverse, it is generally hot and dry. In the center of the country lies a vast, arid plateau known as the Meseta Central, characterized by extremely hot summers and frequent drought.
Ribera del Duero is gaining ground with its single varietal Tempranillo wines, recognized for their concentration of fruit and opulence. Priorat, a sub-region of Catalonia, specializes in bold, full-bodied red blends of Garnacha (Grenache), Cariñena (Carignan), and often Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Catalonia is also home to Cava, a sparkling wine made in the traditional method but from indigenous varieties. In the cool, damp northwest region of Galicia, refreshing white Albariño and Verdejo dominate.
Never lacking in color, tannin, or bold, mouth-filling texture, Mourvèdre is most commonly deployed to provide substance in blends with Grenache and Syrah/Shiraz. Despite being better known by its French name, Mourvèdre is actually of Spanish provenance, originally known as Monastrell. In Spain, it is one of the most commonly planted red grapes, serving as the principal variety in regions such as Alicante, Jumilla, and Yecla. It truly thrives, however, in Provence’s Bandol region, where it produces singular red and rosé wines along with Grenache and [Cinsault]. It is also of great importance in the Southern Rhône alongside Grenache and Syrah—and in California and Australia, where those blends are frequently mimicked.
In the Glass
Mourvèdre/Monastrell is responsible for robust, heady wines with dark berry fruit and a somewhat gamey quality. At its finest, it takes on brambly red and black fruit flavors and hints of herbs, leather, dark chocolate, and licorice. It can be prohibitively tannic in its youth, but well-aged examples can show an impressive degree of elegance and an attractive perfume. In blends with Grenache and Syrah, Mourvèdre provides fleshy texture, tannic structure, and deep color.
This earthy Mediterranean variety loves rustic food—think cassoulet, wild boar ragu, or smoky ribs. Mourvèdre’s tannins are bold but not bitter, lending the wine the weight and texture it needs to pair with such hearty fare.
Mourvèdre used to have significant plantings in California, but it was unfashionable and its presence was quickly declining in the late 20th century. In the 1980s, a group of California winemakers inspired by the wines of the Rhône Valley (aptly named the Rhône Rangers) brought the variety back into the spotlight. Plantings have since increased and “GSM” blends are now a highly-regarded specialty of the Central Coast.