What Is Monastrell?

A look at the mysterious varietal

It’s a good question. Many people are not familiar with the grape, also known as mourvedre, mazuelo, and mataro. Also, a lot of producers aren’t completely sure where they want to go with this tough, often spicy, gamy, tannic, and mysterious variety.

There are plenty of interesting versions available. For me, the best have rich black fruit, hints of peppery spice, and gamy red meat. These are ideally suited to pair with dry rub BBQ pork ribs, or even better, wild boar ribs!

Unfortunately, we often end up with a lot of the chewy tannins and spicy characteristics with less of the fruit and balance that make wine particularly appealing. I am not the most vocal advocate for blending varieties nilly willy, but one of my favorite wines here uses syrah and cabernet sauvignon to help soften and brighten its monastrell, as implausible as that might seem.

On the other hand, a similar blend left me unmoved. Obviously, more work is in order. By work, I mean I’ve got to taste me some more monastrell!

Click here to learn more about the varietal.

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— Gregory Del Piaz, Snooth