Monastrell Mira Salinas 2019, Bodegas Sierra Salinas

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Tasting notes
Monastrell is what the Spanish call the French grape Mourvèdre. In fact, worldwide, this grape has 95 other names, including Mataro, as it is known here in Contra Costa County. And just as its name changes depending on where it’s grown, so do its characteristics. While French Mourvèdre tends to be dark and brooding with lots of earthy and even meaty tendencies, Monastrell—perhaps due to the climate in Jumilla, Alicante, and other parts of eastern Spain—is often more fruit-forward and fleshy.

The Mira Salinas bottling from Bodegas Sierra Salinas leads with a nose of purple fig, ground coffee, and dark chocolate, setting the stage for flavors of blackberry preserves, clove, violet, and espresso. Plush tannins and a lingering, spicy finish add to the appeal of this big red, and despite the 15% alcohol, it’s incredibly balanced and refined. We recommend you drink this one somewhat soon, as it is showing beautifully right now!

Pairing Ideas
A hearty beef stew, grilled mushrooms, some finger-lickin’ ribs, and of course, paella de carne!

Terroir
Extremely shallow soils characterized by a high proportion of rock composed almost entirely of limestone. The limestone mother rock lies about a meter below the surface.

Vine age
Between 20 to 50 years old

Vinification
Harvested by hand | The bunches are sorted rigorously and de-stemmed | Spontaneous un-inoculated fermentation | The must is pressed in a vertical basket press to minimize extraction | Slow, spontaneous malolactic fermentation

About the Winery

Bodegas Sierra Salinas was originally founded in 2000 by a respected winemaking family from Yecla who fell in love with the high altitude terrain surrounding the town of Villena in Alicante. MGWines Group, formed by the Miñano Gomez family, purchased Bodega Sierra Salinas in 2013, including the 56 hectares (142 acres) of vineyards owned by the bodega. Since being acquired by MGWines Group in 2013, the current winemaking team have dedicated their focus to the vineyards, converting all of their land under vine to organic farming.

The temptation in such an arid climate as Alicante is to irrigate, but dry farming in this zone forces the root structures to grow deep and produces bunches with a tremendous natural balance of phenolic ripeness and healthy acidity. They have also minimized the impact of new oak in their wines, and are creating a completely unique style of Monastrell from Alicante.

A striking characteristic of Bodegas Sierra Salinas is the modern design of the winery. The entire facility is constructed to take advantage of gravity in the production of its wines; no electric pumps are needed in the winemaking process. The barrel room is the furthest down, utilizing the earth’s thermal insulation to hold the aging wines at a constant temperature.

The winery is located in Sierra Salinas, a scenic enclave with landscapes of incomparable beauty. The winery is surrounded by a total of 92 hectares where almond trees, olive trees, and vineyards coexist in harmony on slopes 650-680 meters above sea level, the highest elevation possible in Alicante. These altitudes are responsible for dramatic changes in temperature between day and night, resulting in more restrained and elegant aromatics, and higher acidity. Furthermore, the soils are poorer in the mountains, dominated by stone and broken limestone.

The Monastrell (aka Mourvèdre) vines are “spur” pruned, meaning that instead of being trellised and allowing the canopy to spread, they are kept tight, like little bushes. This keeps the bunches from overheating, and allows the leaves to protect the fruit. Although Alicante is quite close to the sea, it’s still very hot, so keeping the grapes from over ripening is a very important part of the winemaking at Sierra Salinas. This farming technique combined with the gravity flow winery allows the winemaking team to vinify an elegant and composed expression of Alicante Monastrell, with the lush fruit and power that is characteristic of the variety, but with less alcohol and more acidity than is typically found in the area.