If you’re looking for big, bold, chewy, delicious, and inexpensive, boy have we got a wine for you! (In case you are wondering, “chewy” refers to dense, full-bodied wines where there’s a fleshy, thick texture that feels like you almost need to chew the wine before swallowing.) Not surprisingly, we are back with another terrific value from Espagna. You may recognize the label because it is virtually identical to a Wine of the Month many years ago, the Monte Hiniesta from Torres (the region), Spain.
Bodegas Pedro Luis Martinez also produces this wonderful Monastrell from Jumilla. The bodega was founded in 1870 by Pedro Luis Martinez, a wine broker who wanted to promote the Monastrell varietal because he found that it was well adapted to the extreme growing conditions in the region. The bodega is now run by the 4th generation of the Martinez family. This part of southern Spain was unaffected by the phylloxera blight that devastated vineyards in France and eventually most of Spain in the mid to late 1800s, but Jumilla finally came under Phylloxera attack in the 1980s. Many of Bodegas Pedro Luis Martinez’s vines survive that attack and are still producing. The affected vines were replaced using more resistant rootstock.
“Hilanda” means “synchronous” and refers to the vines being planted one meter apart in rows that are one meter wide. The Monastrell grape is the same as the Mourvèdre used in France’s Rhône Valley. Most ampelographers believe the grape originated in Spain.
Hilanda Monastrel comes from several dry-farmed vineyards on a mixture of clay, limestone, sand, and small stones at an elevation of 2300-2625 feet, somewhat ameliorating the intense summer heat in the region. The vines range from 25 to 40 years of age with yields a miniscule 1.38 tons per acre. The vineyards are farmed organically; some are certified. After harvesting and sorting by hand, the grapes are crushed and given a 21-day fermentation (14 days maceration) in small cement tanks with indigen-ous yeast, then aged for seven months in one and two-year old casks, 50% American and 50% French.
The wine is bright ruby in color with dark berry and spicy peppery aromas. It displays intense fruit, specifically sweet blueberry and cherry with notes of spicecake. Although it is not the most refined wine around, it has a lot going for it and will benefit from short aeration.