Sunday, August 21, 2011

Washington Mourvedre v. Spanish Monastrell

The Vuelta Espana started on Saturday with a Team Time Trial (TTT)   If you have Universal Sports on your TV you can watch all the stages (live and replayed).  There are lots of other Internet Video Streaming feeds too.  Check out It is a good source for streaming video and details about the races.

The first week of the race is through South East Spain where the red variety Monastrell is the predominant grape.  I wonder what type of "recovery drink" the racers will be enjoying?

The first Vuelta Espana Lucha Vino matchup features a 2008 Bodegas Castano Hecula Monastrell v. 2008 McCrea Cellars Mourvedre

Tale of the Tape

Bodegas Castano Hecula Monastrell

100% Monastrell from the Yecla D.O.

Purchased from Bin 41 for $12.

McCrea Cellars Mourvedre

76% Mourvèdre, 20% Syrah, 4% Grenache from the Ciel du Cheval, Elephant Mountain and Sugarloaf vineyards in Red Mountain and the Yakima Valley AVAs.

Purchased from McCrea Cellars at the Urban Enoteca tasting room for $28.

Round 1.  First Opening:

The Hecula has a nose that is earthy, with pungent minerals and dark stone fruit.  The palate is mostly currant with some cedar notes and a dry cherry bark finish.

McCrea's Mourvedre is showing a nose of smoked meat, pepper, earth, cedar spice and dark red fruit.  The palate is black cherry, Asian spice and a touch of cedar cigar box with a dry finish featuring notes of all spice.

The Monastrell is down to earth, coming into the ring firing with both barrels.  The McCrea Cellars Mourvedre is more layered and complex easily taking round 1 with a variety of kung fu moves.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The Hecula nose is showing some interesting notes of camp fire, funk and red fruit.  The palate is cherries, menthol and dry cedar spice that clings on to a dry finish.

The Mourvedre has a nose of smoked meat, salt n peppa and some cedar spice.  The palate is still showing currant, Asian spice and a cedar spicebox finish.

The Hecula Monastrell has built up some more interest on the nose and the palate while the Mourvedre has evolved slightly from the first round.  This round was closer with the McCrea Mourvedre barely hanging on to take the second round.

Round 3. One day later

The Hecula has a nose of ark red fruit and earth.  The palate is currants, black cherry, cedar and spices.  The finish is dry cedar and spice.

The McCrea is showing a funky dark fruit nose with a palate of black cherry and some slight bitterness that lingers on to the finish that is dry and dominated by cherry bark.

Both Luchadors lost some of their swagger over night with the McCrea losing quite a bit of its complexity.

Round three goes to the Hecula Monastrell.

Wrap up and over all observations

Being a simple-minded Luchador, I had no idea that Monastrell and Mourvedre are the same grape.  So, I learned something new during this match.  I also learned that there is not very much Mourvedre growing in Washington.

The final score was McCrea 2 and Hecula 1.  I have to say that this was another match that was closer than the final score.  Also, the Spanish Monastrell put up a huge fight against the WA State Mourvedre that cost more than twice as much as the Monastrell.  The Monastrell may have also been at a disadvantage since the McCrea Mourvedre had some hidden Syrah and Grenache tag team partners.  Before you cry foul, remember nobody ever said wrestling was fair!

I give the McCrea Mourvedre an 87 and the Hecula Monastrell an 86.


  1. Well put my mask warrior!! I like both wines but the true tale of the tape( in my mind) is how they pair with food! I do like that you give 3 rounds of analysis...especially the 2nd day! You truly need to see how these wines hold up over time.

    For me, I like that McCrea is doing odd varietals...and doing them well!! The hard battle is the price point is in a figure four lock between old world vs new world!
    In my mind, i think old world has a huge advantage on quality vs price ratio! Don't get me wrong I love McCrea but for the price...I might have to call this a draw and a rematch in the cage! If you bring McCrea's Boushey Syrah vs an old world Syrah...McCrea might have a KO in the first round!

    Cheers my masked Matador!! I truly enjoy the round by round analysis!! Keep it up!

    Oooohhh yaaaa!

  2. I'd never heard of this grape (Mourvedre), especially in Washington. Do you know of other wineries that are growing this? And are there some good examples of this varietal I should try that are relatively inexpensive?

  3. R. Savage - Good point on the QPR. Under consideration for an amendment to the Lucha Vino rules!

  4. Hi Kelsey,

    Mourvedre is best known in France and I think it is used primarily as a blending grape. You see it in Chateauneuf de Pape blends which are typically Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Here are some more details from Wikipedia.

    I had to do some quick research and purchase for this past week's matchup so the only Washington Mourvedres I found were from McCrea and Darby. Neither of these would qualify as inexpensive at $28 and $42 respectively. The amount of Mourvedre grown in Washington is pretty small, so I am guessing that leads to the cost per bottle.

  5. Mourvedre is made in Washington by Robert Ramsey Cellars, Gilbert Cellars, Pleasant Hill, Syncline, Rasa, Cheateu Ste. Michelle, Hollywood Hills, Bunnell, Mark Ryan, Mercer, and about a dozen others. They are ALL considerably more expensive than their Spanish cousins. And there are hundreds more of the Spaniards. You tested the Castao Hecula, which is a very good wine but there are, of course, wines from Spain that DO cost as much as the state stuff and between those wines and any made here,there simply is no comparison. Mourvedre is native to both Spain and Southern France and they've grown and vinified it for 600 years. OF COURSE ours aren't as good. The oldest vitis vinifera vines in this state are barely 50 years old and the oldest Mourvedre isn't even 20. We have a LOOOOOONG way to go to get the quality of grapes to make wines like theirs or the handful of 100% Mourvedre Chateauneuf du Papes of other better Rhones. The Janasse "Le Chaupin", Boislauzon, Jamelles, Clos St Michel, Montepezat, and Pradeau wines are all from ancient vines.

    We seem to be in a great hurry here to try to stack up with the rest of the world. It's akin to a teenager saying to his dad, "I'm a man,now! I'm old enough to drive your car!" The simple fact is, all of our great wine days are ahead of us. Washington has made larger strides toward greatness in the past fifteen years than any region on earth, with only the possible exception of Argentina. If we did less comparing and just let our wines evolve at their own pace, the process would be faster and more friendly.

  6. Pour Fool - Thanks for your insights.

    Definitely tough competition when your entire country is "only" 235 years old. How can we possibly compete with the Euros with such little training under our belts? That audacious attitude, saying "I'm ready to drive and I don't give a damn." is the essence of who we are.