2011 Olivares Monastrell Altos de la Hoya

Hello friends. In Europe, there are twin beating hearts of varietal Mourvedre production. One is Bandol, in the Provencal region of France. We’ve already explored that region.

Today, let’s cross the border into Spain, and more specifically to Jumilla, Spanish capital of Mourvedre, (or Monastrell as they call it there), with a wine that is a good value in an average vintage and an exceptional value in a good vintage like this:

This is one of those wines that adds real clarity to the challenge that winemakers in a place like Washington face when trying to develop a market for Mourvedre. Olivares, in Jumilla, has a single vineyard (Finca Hoya de Santa Ana), with vines as old as 80 years, growing in a sandy moonscape (see pictures one, two, and three) that has never caught a whiff of phylloxera.

Unlike much of Jumilla, this site sits at considerable elevation (2700ft), allowing for large diurnal shifts and excellent acid retention. It’s matured entirely in neutral barrels (some small, some large), allowing the old-vine fruit material to shine bright. The nose is an alluring mix of flowers, exotic spices, and brambly blackberries. On the palate, it’s the live-wire intensity you notice first, completely belying the price point. There’s a real palate-coating quality here, and depth, and mineral tone, and lovely inner mouth perfume. The list goes on. Priced like a mid-week wine, this would not be out of place for a special occasion in the least.

Its quality has not escaped the critical eye of Tanzer’s IWC. Never known for heaping praise (or points) lightly, this is an incredibly strong review from IWC for a wine at this tariff:

Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (Josh Raynolds): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91pts.”

The urgency for this one was increased a few days ago, when Lettie Teague called it out in a Wall Street Journal article highlighting the value garden that is Spain, saying “The intense and brooding Olivares Altos de la Hoya… had a group of Spanish-wine-loving friends in disbelief: How could a wine so densely flavorful be so cheap?”

That said, we have a solid stash here in Seattle. So, first come first served up to 60 bottles, and the wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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