“Monastrell” may not have the instant recognition of grape varieties like “Cabernet” or “Syrah,” and neither does its French synonym "Mourvedre," but don't let that deter you—this inky grape tastes like a hybrid of the two, combining concentrated power, broad fruit flavors, and a full body in an under-the-radar, under-$30 package.
The 2010 Iberica Bruno Prats Alfynal—made exclusively from Monastrell—is an incredible value that fuses expert Bordeaux winemaking with the rugged, coastal terroir of southern Spain. Opaque, and showing a powerful nose of blackberry and plum, as well as the balance of power and definition that marks the finest wines of this style, this is a profound gem from an experienced master. Get ready to surprise and delight your friends, because after slumbering in the cellar for nearly a decade, this beauty is structured, impeccably balanced, and already matured for ideal drinking pleasure.
While managing Saint-Estèphe’s famed Château Cos d’Estournel, winemaker Bruno Prats couldn’t help thinking of the grapes he fell in love with decades earlier: the gnarled, old-vine Monastrell of southern Spain. Finally, in 2009, about a decade after he departed his family château in the Médoc, Prats headed south to Alicante, where he and his partner Stephane Point now craft deep and brooding Bandol-like wines under the name Iberica Bruno Prats.
In Bordeaux terms, today’s Alfynal is Prats’s Grand Vin, as well as the realization of his vision: the Monastrell grapes are entirely hand-harvested from old vines planted in limestone soils. The 2010 Alfynal is “a textbook example of great Monastrell,” according to Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, which awarded it 94 points. It harkens to Monastrell at its most sublime: In the famous Domaine Tempier reds of Bandol, or as a significant component of Mourvèdre-heavy Château de Beaucastel. This Alfynal is now perfectly aged and softened from several years in the cellar, but still holding fast to the structure that will allow it to continue evolving beautifully.
The Advocate was so impressed by the early vintages of Bruno Prats’s new project that they dedicated significant space to it in issue #209, where the magazine summed up Bruno’s story: He “had a fixation with Monastrell since he was studying oenology at Montpellier in 1967, where he used to listen to Professor Jean Brana rave about the quality and potential of the old Monastrell vineyards of Alicante, where the variety originates.”
Prats and Point source grapes from an area where growers raise non-irrigated, bush-trained vines in the rocky clay and limestone soils of Alicante—a rugged, coastal region in southeastern Spain. The heat of the growing season is tempered by the high elevation and proximity to the Mediterranean Sea.
Monastrell disguises itself within the Mediterranean’s richest reds, combining concentrated power, broad fruit flavors, and a full body. Now perfectly cellared, this Bandol-style bombshell is ready for the spotlight, or another five years in the cellar. Whatever your plans for it, now is the time to claim this wine.
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