Monastrell, wine deity of Yecla


A Monastrell from Yecla, was one of the first wines that I tasted when I arrived in Madrid in the late Summer/early fall of 2002. The place where I bought it was a tiny well stocked wine shop near the Retiro park. I explained to the owner of the shop, a man in his late 50’s that I was learning about Spanish wines. He showed me a reccomendation and I said, that the wines from Yecla are one of the best kept secrets of Spain. The man explained to me that the old Monastrell vines from Yecla yielded magical wines and that Robert Parker was going crazy for them. To this day, i do not remember that producer but I think that it was Bodegas Castano.


After picking up the bottle, I went to the food market section of the Corte Ingles to get myself some mushrooms ” Trompeta de los muertos” and some beef cubes. I did a stew to have with the wine. I will never forget that supper of that evening in my apartment in Madrid. That Monastrell had a heady scent of blue fruits with fascinating scents of earth and flowers. The wine was bringing out the flavors of the mushrooms and they in turn were communicating with the wine. The experience reminded me of the short story of Julio Cortazar, the aquarium. I was converted…


What makes the Monastrell from Yecla so special?. First is the altitude where the vineyards are located. Yecla soils are located between 400 meters and 800 meters. In addition,They are deep with good drainage and with a high content of chalk. Furthermore, the climate is continental with mediterranean influence. Temperature oscillate between -7º in the winter and 42º in the summer, with an average of 3.000 sunshine hours a year. This is a grape that loves important differences in temperatures. More important, it likes hot weather and cold winters. Its the reason why it develops thick skins and produce those fascinating heady flavors.

Yecla is pretty small appellation making big wines. There are 11 wineries in which 9 of them bottle their own wines and the rest sell in bulk. This is small wine region with an international clientele. Most of the production is exported, being USA, Canada and Germany, their biggest markets.

The Castaño family has been participants of the Yecla wine scene for many generations. In the 1950’s Ramon Castaño Santa founded the winery. Deemed an avant-gardiste , he modernized the winery with a passion for Monastrell.

Castano has 500 ha of vineyards scattered in the yecla denomination. Campo Arriba in the northern part of the d.o is richer in limestone while Campo Abajo is richer in Clay. This gives the wine the perfect combination of power, structure and aromatics.


Their Hecula is their classic entry level wine. The wine spent 6 months in inxox cuves and another 6 in wood barrels ( 80% french and 20% american). SAQ#11676671. $13.95 Here are my tasting notes:

A fantastic value from Yecla. Aromas of ripe black fruits with complex barnyard nuances. On the mouth, full body with notes of caramelized expresso beans and blue fruits. Rustic, brambly but well made.


On the other hand, Solanera is a custom made wine for key markets such as the North American one. It is a majority blend of old vine Monastrell (70%) with the remainder Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) and Garnacha Tintorera ( 15%). Here are my tasting notes for the 2013 vintage. SAQ #11664902. $20.95

Rich and inviting bouquet. Deep notes of ripe blue fruit such as cassis jam and blueberries. In addition delicate notes of dry mint and licorice with a background of different leathers and other animal nuaces. All this in a cloud of violets, roses and other aromatic flowers. In the mouth, full body, powerful and structured. Balanced by a cool acidity. Retronasal flavors of dark chocolate blueberries, wood and dark raisins. Noble tannins with a pencil lead, mineral fennel streamlined finish. Will age for the next 5-7 years


The perfect Spanish red wine for weekday drinking and a Ribera del Duero for the weekend.

The appellation of Yecla has a reputation of producing of robust, high alcohol wines with an inky appearance and heady aromas. However, I might have found the exception of the rule with the 2012 Las Carretas Monastrell.

Bodegas y Viñedos del Mediterráneo, also known as Altos del Cuadrado, is the proyect of the Castaño family in Jumilla and Yecla . In both winemaking regions, Monastrell is king.

A name given to Mourvedre grapes grown in Spain, Monastrell is a big wine with complex and deep flavors. Primarily used in blending, Monastrell stands alone well as a delicious red. As a function of Spanish terroir, Monastrell tends to have a deeper plum and licorice note compared to other varieties of Mourvedre.

Rezin imports Las Carretas in the province of Quebec. This is a private import available in case of 12. At $14.85, it is a hard to beat for the quality delivered. My tasting notes below:

Las Carretas Monastrell D.O Yecla 2012

On the nose very fresh aromas of black berry fruit with violets, licorice and cracked black peppercorn with juniper berries. On the mouth, full body, with an incredible freshness. Crispy fruit that reminds me of raspberry coulis, with hints of fennel seed this wine has an  amazing silky texture with easygoing tannins. A very floral retronasal with a very polished finale. Quite possibly, the best value in the Spanish wine value at the moment in the private importation segment in Quebec. 93\100.

Food Match: Anything from blood sausages, chorizo to Paella or other poultry based rice dishes containing rabbit or hare. 

Here is a very nice little video that talks about the wine regions of Murcia:

Recently, in a recently arrival of the SAQ Cellier, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that one of the wines of the Matarromera Group was available in the province of Quebec. Matarromera is a very important player in the fine wine market of Ribera del Duero and in Spain.  Bodegas Emina is sourced from the Valbuena ring of paths, a very important wine sub region of Ribera del Duero.  The Emina Crianza 2010 is a 100% tempranillo with 12 months barrel aging and a further 12 months in bottle. It is sourced from a vineyard called  Pago El Coto de San Bernardo which have a mixed soil composition consisting of clay, sand and limestone which explains why it has such as powerful structure. My tasting note below:

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Emina Crianza 2010. $27.20

Dark violet colour. On the noses aromas of dry black fruit, cocoa, meat extract with iron nuances. In addition, violets with couscous spices. On the mouth full boby with a powerful structure. Good acidity with flavours of cassis, black cherry. In addition, cloves, toasty oak and vanilla. Ripe tannins and long finish. 95\100. One of the best Ribera del Duero available on the Quebec market at the moment

Food Match: Perfect with any a Bavette marinated in homeade bbq sauce over a hot fire. 

Here is a short promotional video of  Bodegas Emina that explains what they are all about:

Emina is represented by Valmonti in Quebec. This was a sample given by the agent for review in this blog.

Two Pack Spanish wines to combat the nasty cold



It seems to me that we have jumped to the winter season already in Montreal. Where did the fall go?. On the last few week or so, we have jumped to subzero temperatures With this type of weather, all i want to is to stay home, make some hearty dish and drink some robust wines all day long.

If you are looking for body and character, Yecla and Alicante are the places to drink up in Spain. These Spanish wine regions produce wines with a mediterranean character full of character and spice. Monastrell is the principal red grape in both appellations giving wines with a heady bouquet and big body. Other international grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are also permitted. When they are included in the wines, they take a mediterranean.

I recently reviewed two wines given for press review of A.O.C & Cie, Châteaux et Domaines Inc. Both of them comes from the same family, Bodegas Castano. This a family domaine that lead estate bottling in the Area giving Yecla an international reputation for quality wines, away from the bulk image of the past. They also have been a pioneer in Spain working with Monastrell. The first wine Hecula is made by The Castano in their home appellation Yecla. They have been making wine since the 1950’s. Salinas is a more recent project of the family ( 2000) in the lower part of  Alicante with a conglomerate of Swiss investors.  The best part of these wines is that they are under $25 and will not hurt your pocket.




Castano Hecula. SAQ Code:  11676671. Price; $13.95

 Old Vine Monastrell, 37+ years. 6 months aging in (80% French – 20% American oak / 50% new)

Aromas of dry and roasted black fruits with heady nuances of black earth and balsamic notes. Of these, mint, eucalyptus and black licorice. In addition, the signature animal notes of Monastrell are very present such as leather and various other animal notes. In the mouth, the wine is dry and corpulent with lots of preserved black fruit character and a remarkable earthiness and minerality. Fleshy tannins and a medium acidity. The wine presents a delicious smoky and medium lingering finale. 92\100



Sierra Salinas. Puero Salinas 2010. SAQ Code: 11963751. Price: $24.30.

Mostly Monastrell (80%) with Cabernet Sauvignon ( 13%) and Garnacha Tintorera (7%).  Vineyards coming from limestone soil, poor in organic sediments. 15 months aging in French oak barrels

On the nose aromas that recall deep black and blue fruits with dry licorice, spices and well integrated oak notes recalling powdered cocoa and coffee. In the mouth, full body with a viscous texture. Flavors remind me of more of that blue-black fruit character with a hint of barnyard character and leather. 90\100

Now for the food. I am a firm believer in wine & food regionality. So, I decided to go along with a dish made of chickpeas, serrano ham and chorizo sausage for the wines . The recipe is courtesy of food & wines from Spain. This is a quick dish that can be prepared on a weekly evening, or if you prefer for a weekend supper. Both wines are an excellent companion for this dish. The smokiness and animal notes of the ham and sausage  in the dish complements well the aromatic notes of the Monastrell. Same thing of the pimenton which makes shine the spicy notes of both wines. The texture of the chickpeas act as vacuum for the tannins of the wines, giving a polished texture to them.

With this last words, I will leave you until my next post!!

Buen Provecho!!!