I missed the inaugural edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday (WBW), the global wine tasting event launched by Lenndevours, where the challenge was to select and taste a new world Merlot. But, I'm in for WBW II. The theme for this second round of worldwide wine blogging, as announced by Alder at Vinography, was to find and taste a Spanish red wine.
After the success of my Casa Castillo purchase back in September of last year, I sought out another wine from the Jumilla region. In hopes of finding another slice of "liquid cake," I scanned the shelves of In Vino Veritas (1375 First Avenue, 212.288.0100), a wine shop near where I work, and settled on Bodegas Casa de la Ermita 2001 ($15.99).
Jumilla, a Denominación de Origen in Southeastern Spain, is characterized by a hot, arid climate, and is home to the Monastrell grape (also known as Mourvèdre in France). Grown in a limestone soil, Monastrell is said to thrive in this dry, harsh environment. According to the producer of the wine I selected, "the heat that radiates from the large deposits of stones and gravel in the soil helps to moderate the cold night time temperatures and insures an even ripening of the grapes."
Unlike the Casa Castillo, which was 100 percent Monastrell, the Casa de la Ermita is a blend of Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tempranillo. The wine is aged in French and American oak for ten months.
Wine Spectator featured the wine as a "Wine of the Day" in December 2003, giving it a respectable 88 points and describing it as "Rich, offering ripe plum, coffee, chocolate and mineral flavors in a well-integrated package. Thick, with firm, round tannins, traditional flavors and international structure."
I don't disagree with most of the review, though I did not pick up on the coffee or chocolate accents, and I'm at a loss for some of the more general descriptions. "Traditional flavors and international structure"? Huh? A "well-integrated package"? Hmm, not sure what that means.
The wine was almost totally opaque -- deep, full red in color. At first glance, I thought it was going to be a competitor to the Casa Castillo, but once I tasted it, I found that it was not nearly as rich and thick. This turned out to be a much lighter-weight wine, while still pungent, fruity, and somewhat astringent. The wine paired nicely with some pan-roasted pork chops with sage and garlic.
Standing on its own, this was a good wine, but I had higher expectations based on a (probably unfair) comparison to an all-Monastrell wine. After all, it's hard to measure up to liquid cake.