Monastrell Musings

Couple of oddball Mourvedres–one a classic Paso Robles label somewhat buried in lore and obscurity, and another straight out of Jumilla. Had the rare opportunity to taste these two together and–although continents and many years apart–the juxtapositions are relevant.

The Luzon comes from near-perfect provenance. Black and impenetrable, showing very little brick, the nose reflects deep tertiary muddlings alongside the dank black cherry. Herbaceous and vegetal, it is a wine 1 percent dream of stealthy chalk and rich, aged concentration. Although falling apart somewhat after several hours, the greasy briar and cabernet backbone solidify into a gorgeous bouquet and mouth-feel. Considerably new-worldy, the streamlined modern structure still carries definite European twists. Green-briar and dusky velvet dominate the nose, slight oxidation polishes and rounds, and tasting it reveals a strong, solid wine: one where the barnyard is more prevalent in the taste than the nose. Packed with tainted burnt cherry, it is sharp and focused, alcohol providing a bit of burn, but actually brightening the palate beyond tiredness. Although probably at-peak on paper, the fruit and tannin lie together quite positively in balance–the former feeling a bit clumsy; the latter polishing nicely. Dense and chewy, I find it rather likeable, though the throes of age are taking its toll. Pruney with air, it probably should be consumed in the near future or might turn to a mere curiosity. But there exists in my mind a possibility of maintaining steadfast beauty for another decade. Tough call on a wine like this. Let me know.

Pipestone was a funky little winery–estate and organic–and the wines I have visited many times over the years as slight oddities in the tourist-driven *bigger is better* realm of Paso Robles wines. Never playing to the *clean, fruit-driven wines* recipe of surrounding wineries, they taste young at ages which would decimate many of their neighbors. Medium ruby, NO brick at all, a razor of clear lies between glass and body. Clean, chalky nose of ripe cherry, blackberry and blood orange. Tertiary is apparent, only slightly tweaking the bouquet in dusty briar and crushed-velvet directions. It is bright–while funky–a shrill *clean-ness* of fruit defies age. Match-head and mint glow around newsprint and sharp, youthful berry. Acidic and resplendently clean in the mouth, the leather of the nose takes a back seat to pepper and citrus. Decadent berry is heightened by tannin NOT shy but resolving into the balanced finish. Lithe and packed with flavor, a STUNNING wine. Would love to taste this alongside Tempier and its ilk.


2005 BODEGAS LUZON ‘Altos de Luzon’ Monastrell/Cab/Temp 50/25/25 Jumilla Spain 14.5
2011 PIPESTONE VINEYARDS Mourvedre Paso Robles 15.0

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