Elo Monastrell (Single Vineyard)
Elo is the ancient name of today's capital of Murcia, built in the 7th century, and it is a nod what once was part of the vinification history of Yecla and its neighboring areas. Historically, the winemaking area of Alicante made wines that were fresh, and bright with lower alcohol levels and restraint that made them easy to consume. And, in large quantities, especially during the hot summer days. However, with the rise of production in the 80's, more recent elaborations in this area of Spain have unfortunately gone to excessive maturation levels in order to achieve maximum extraction and concentration. We won't mention any names. However, we understand that Monastrell grape has a distinctive tanning character, that when over ripe, just lack acidity and reaches excessive alcohol levels that deteriorate the freshness of Monastrell's deep red aromatics. When picking Monastrell with higher ripeness levels and using new oak, the sweetness of the barrels, and the higher alcohol levels contrast the tanning structure in the wine and the inherent bitterness of the variety. We know the type- the overly friendly, commercial wines that have become the norm, and the expected, in the area of Alicante. But, is possible to make a wine that is elegant, juicy and profound and simultaneously fresh, fun and innovative? Of course it is possible, as dare I mention, desperately welcome (NEEDED) in this category. This is the inspiration behind Elo.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? What doesn’t make this wine unique? You've never tasted Monastrell like this before. Period!. Elo comes from a high altitude, single vineyard planted in 1973 in Yecla. The vines are harvested early, often one whole month before their neighbors, to avoid over-maturation and to maintain freshness. Cement resting, untouched, for one year before barrel.
RATING HISTORY: 2013 93WA & JS; 2012 91IWC; 2011 93RP; 2010 92IWC
GRAPE: 100% Monastrell (un-grafted original rootstock). Vines planted in 1973. Tended in rocky, chalky and limestone soil at 770 m (2,526 ft) elevation.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: This is a Monastrell to enjoy an entire bottle of, one to savor and sip. Due to its restraint and balance, Elo is an extremely food friendly wine. Ideal pairings include pastas with sausage, octopus, dishes heavy in green vegetables, lean meats and perfect for cheese.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: The harvest takes place approximately 25 days earlier than what is customary of the region, at the moment when the grapes are most flavorful and balanced. They fill open stainless steel tanks with whole clusters for a slow press and 28 maceration which then goes to 2-3 year old 500 liter French oak barrels for one year, followed by a rest in a 2000 liter cement tank without touching. Once bottled, Elo spends a minimum of 8 months aging in the cellar before being released to the market. The Monastrell grape needs more time than most varieties to achieve and express its full potential, but it is amazing how it evolves once aged for more than 2 years.
PRODUCTION: 430 cases (6 pack)
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The Denominación de Origen, Yecla, is a plateau surrounded by mountains in the southeast of Spain nearing the Mediterranean in the Alicante region, where average temperatures between April-October are 19 Celsius (66 Fahrenheit). Elo is from an arid, single vineyard (El Alterón) from the Highlands where the days are sunny and the night air is fresh. The annual rainfall averages 11.8 in. Elo is planted at 770m (2,526 ft) elevation in rocky, chalky limestone soil. The cool, coastal Mediterranean influence sweeping these plateaus allow the nighttime temperatures to drastically drop and cool the vines following the sweltering afternoons of summer where temperatures sit comfortably in the summer at 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This helps to concentrate the ripe fruit while maintaining bright acidity. Pretty ideal condition, in fact.
TASTING NOTES: Opaque ruby. Cherry, cassis and lavender on the fragrant, spice-accented nose. An appealingly sweet midweight that offers juicy red and blue fruit flavors and hints of vanilla and fruitcake. Closes smooth and broad, displaying very good clarity, smooth tannins and a late suggestion of candied licorice.-- Josh Raynolds.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold