Barahonda Barrica is an estate-bottled wine made by Señorio de Barahonda, the oldest winery in the Yecla DO region. This wine combines the powerful Monastrell grape with the spicy, soft tannins of Syrah. The Candela family established the bodega in 1925. Winemaker Araceli Gonzalez is one of the key figures whose work has shown the potential of Monastrell in Yecla. Monastrell is better known as Mourvédre in France's Chateauneuf-du-Pape appellation, where the terroir and climate are similar to Yecla. Both regions have a Mediterranean climate with warm days and nights. Located in the warmer southeast part of Spain, Yecla is one of the country's oldest wine regions, with a rich history that dates back to the 6th Century. In recent years, the astounding rediscovery of Yecla by American journalists and consumers has prompted international acclaim for wines based on Monastrell. Native to Spain, Monastrell was brought to France around the 5-6th Century.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? This wine is made from estate-owned, organically grown grapes. It combines the power of Monastrell with the spice of Syrah. The vines are head pruned in the traditional manner and are dry farmed (no irrigation). The Monastrell grapes come from vines over 60 years old. Yields are a low 2 kilograms (4.4 lbs.) of fruit per vine, which results in wines that are naturally balanced and concentrated.
RATING HISTORY: 2014 90VN; 2013 89RP; 2012 91RP; 2011 92RP; 2010 92RP; 2008 90RP; 2007 90RP
GRAPE: 75% Monastrell, 25% Syrah. Organically grown vines planted from 1968 - 1970. Tended in rocky limestone soil at 713 m (2,339 ft) elevation
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: In addition to the predictable array of roasted and grilled red meats, the ripeness of Monastrell with the spice of Syrah will make this wine pair even better with grilled or roasted pork tenderloin, pork chops and Tandoori chicken or veal. For a more unusual pairing, try this wine with the finest corned beef or pastrami-on-rye sandwich you can find and don't forget the half-sour pickle.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: Both Monastrell and Syrah are hand harvested and vinified separately. The Monastrell macerates for 15 days at 79F. The Syrah is fermented at 75F and macerates for 12 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in French oak barrels for six months before the two varieties are blended together. Once the final blend (assemblage) is completed, it remains in barrels for another 6 months.
PRODUCTION: 7,500 cases
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The vineyards are within the Yecla DO (Zone 8), within Murcia in southeastern Spain. The vineyards are in the Campo Arriba district of Yecla, at 713 meters (2,339 ft.) elevation. Monastrell is the most planted grape in this area and is the second most planted red grape in Spain. Yecla's higher altitude results in cooler temperatures than neighboring regions, which makes wines that are brighter and more aromatic. The soils are composed of limestone and chalk with clay and gravel subsoils, low in organic matter. The soils are deep and have good drainage. The clay subsoil retains water, which is essential for the health of the vine in this arid climate. This results in greater overall concentration and complexity in the wine. The average temperature from May-October is 66F, with only 13 inches of rain per year. The climate is Mediterranean with a light Continental influence, due to its higher altitude.
TASTING NOTES: Lurid ruby. Ripe black and blue fruits, cola, vanilla and potpourri on the deeply perfumed nose. Smooth and sweet on entry and then tighter in the midpalate, offering bitter cherry and blueberry flavors and hints of vanilla and spicecake. A smoky nuance emerges with aeration and carries through the long, gently tannic finish, which echoes the vanilla note. -- Josh Raynolds.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold