Sunday, February 12, 2012

Updated Review: ***+ $ Olivares Altos de la Hoya Monastrell, Jumilla, Spain, 2008 - BEST VALUE

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By way of background: Olivares Altos de la Hoya Monastrell from Jumilla, Spain, is from the Hoya de Santa Ana vineyard.  Monastrell (mourvedre) grapes are harvested from ungrafted vines, fermented with wild yeasts and aged for six months in French oak. The young 2008 vintage is finished at 14% alcohol.

Original Tasting and Review, February, 2010:

In the glass: Olivares Altos de la Hoya Monastrell shows as dark burgundy red in the glass, opaque to within a half inch of the edge.

On the nose: Poured with a brief decant and swirled vigorously, this Jumilla monastrell brings candied cherries plus light smoke to your nose.

On the palate: The first element on the palate is sweet, ripe plum in your mid-palate, followed quickly by a tangier, smoky acid that lifts the fruit into your mouth.  Solid, smoky cherry lingers. 

And the wrap-up: The finish is driven by that smoky cherry, but lingers longer with bright finishing acids.  A bit of sweet acid tucks just a bit too long on the finish, creating a slightly cloying sweetness in the finish. 

In summary: Overall, a bold, round and still bright experience. Rates three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with a plus for combination of accessibility and power.  Great value.  

Josh Raynolds of the International Wine Center awarded an enthusiastic 91 points, saying, "Inky purple. Deep, smoky, seductively perfumed bouquet of dark berries, macerated cherries, licorice and Indian spices. Powerful blackberry and cassis flavors are surprisingly lively, with notes of black cardamom and candied violet adding complexity. A zesty note of cracked pepper adds snap to the long, spicy, subtly sweet finish. Once again, this is probably the top value I found in my annual tastings of new releases from Spain. Some of the vines in this plot reportedly date back to 1872."

Following a two-day decant under vacuum in a partially-opened bottle:  Similar nose now bringing on a hint of raspberry.  Palate really hasn't varied, perhaps lost a bit of the obvious sweetness.  No notable advantages from the long decant.

Updated review, over two years later, February, 2012:  Remains deep magenta in color, no bricking at four years from vintage date.  Retains the sweet, smoky, light cherry nose.  Sweeter cherry now on the palate.  Soft with a following shadow of darker charcoal.  Resolves to a clean crispness.  Seems to be right on its sweet spot now for age.  Drink up!  Following long decant, full day kept cool in partially filled bottle: More subtle nose, with smoke still coming through.  Black pepper is added to the fruit now on the palate, but retains its overall structure and flavor elements. 

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