In Wine
on 20 Oct 15

I get to taste a lot of wine in my new job. That's sort of the point––it's why I wanted this particular gig, to have the kind of palate that you only get from constant tasting of wines from all over the world––and it's what I have to do to be worth a damn at it. Sometimes, in addition to finding good wines for our customers, I find a good wine for me. This is one of those.

Gordo Monastrell

I was told once that if I were a grape I'd be Monastrell because it flourishes most outside its home. At the time, that made me sad, but I didn't question it; I felt like I'd always be on the road. Now here I am, on my ninth move in ten years, and I'd like to think I've found a place I can stay awhile. I love my job and this great new city and my friends here, and my loved ones aren't too far away. I'd like to stay, and that's the most I can ever say.

Tasting this wine at work reminded me why I fell in love with Monastrell all those years ago. The dried black fruit, the leathery feel on the palate, the tangy pepper, the hint of graphite––it's all there. This one has more of the mineral as it opens, with maybe a little floral thing behind it; there's thirty percent cab in there too. This is the kind of wine I want to last forever, not because I'm watching it change or because it's terribly cerebral but because it feels like the right soundtrack for me, and it just always has.

Maybe it's fitting that I've never even been to Spain, the home of this grape. I'd have to disagree on the point that we're so alike, though––I may not have stayed local, but Monastrell in its native Spain, and particularly this one, is as good as I've ever had it.

The winemaker, Patrick Mata, named the wine after his dad José. He's the fourth in a family line of winemakers in Yecla (they make this wine through the cooperative Compania de Vinos del Atlantico). I don't know what it's like to be born into a family business, to know that your livelihood will take place in the same dirt that your parents' and grandparents' did. My life has been pretty much the opposite, and it's kind of amazing to taste something that someone made with the legacy of their whole family in mind.

Julia Burke reviews South African wine and writes about social justice, the South African wine industry, and her own adventures in winemaking.