Tour de Spain: Montsant
I'm writing this post on about 4 hours of sleep because I woke up at 3am this morning in full panic mode. What was causing me to lose sleep? Planning my son's 4th birthday party. Nothing gives me greater anxiety than preparing to host a large group of people (excluding family, of course. Hi fam!). You know those home renovation shows where they're always looking for an open concept space with plenty of room for entertaining? Yeah, that's NOT me. I'll keep my closed-off, introverted kitchen thankyouverymuch. Anyhow, all of this stress got me to thinking about the wine selection for the party, which leads me to good ol' Montsant (pronounced Moan-SAN). It's a crowd pleaser and it's difficult to find a bottle over $20. Boom and boom.
Montsant is a relatively new DO in Spain. Until 2001, vineyards in Montsant were grouped in with the nearby region of Tarragona. It's located in Catalonia and happens to surround the very prestigious Priorat region, which I'll be writing about shortly ;) The principal grape varieties are Carinena and Garnacha, which are sometimes blended with international grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. Red wines from Montsant are concentrated and aromatic with lots of berry and floral notes. White wines are produced here as well with Macabeo and White Grenache and have a reputation for a silky texture and elegant style.
The best vineyards of Montsant are on steep slopes of the impressive mountain range that towers over the region. The grapes get that intense Mediterranean sunlight during the day and cool temperatures at night thanks to the altitude, so they develop a really great complexity of flavors and aromas and maintain their acidity. Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is, so let's get to it.
I found myself short on time, dollars, and selection as I was trying to pick out a wine for this post, so I took a chance on this Cellar Besllum Xabec Montsant 2008, despite its god awful label that looks like the banner from a 2002 food festival. I'm sure I cringed when I grabbed it from the shelf, but once again, I received a lesson in not judging a wine by its label (I should start a new series about this). This wine is delicious. It took about 30 minutes to really loosen up
just like me and once it did it showed bold notes of black cherry, strawberry, smoked meat, pepper, lavendar, and vanilla with firm tannins and lots of acidity. I'd be fooled into thinking it was a much more expensive wine. And guess what - it was only $14.
This Tour de Spain series has really convinced me that the country is full of surprisingly great value wines. So, if you find yourself awake in the wee hours of the night stressing out over what wine to serve your guests, simply think of Montsant and drift back to sleep. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to guzzle coffee, call some balloon artists, and show that to-do list who's boss.