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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:09:21 14:18:34

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2015:10:02 18:42:49

Old World wine producer Spain seems almost more like an up-and-comer. The country’s wines seem to have always been an also-ran in the United States and remains sort of a mystery to many.

The wines continue to improve. While many Spanish wines are made from indigenous grapes such as tempranillo, some are established in other countries and are produced in Spain under a local name. One of these is monastrell, the Spanish name for the grape known in France, and elsewhere, as mourvedre. Historically, France and Spain have shared a lot over the Pyrenees. Grenache can be found in Spain under the name garnacha, for example.

I found two Spanish monastrell on discount and both were very good, calling to mind the earth and fruitfulness of other Rhone grapes. Fans of syrah, for example, would really enjoy these wines.

Spain has a rich network of wine regions. Almansa and Jumilla are small regions in the Southeast of the country, not far from the Mediterranean Sea. Vineyards, dominated by monastrell, sit in the transition zone from the coastal flatlands to the mountains.

Reminiscent of an excellent syrah, Bodega Piqueras Valcanto 2013 Monastrell Almansa has a savory, meaty smell and saucy, plum and pepper character with a nice acidity. The wine had big flavor and a clean finish, making it a great food wine. You’d have a hard time finding a better bottle of wine at this price. $10. 1/2

Bodegas Piqueras has a syrah for the same price in the state wine shops, which is probably also worth checking out.

Bringing together two great wines of the Spain, monastrell and tempranillo, Domino De Artiga Monastrell/Tempranillo 2010 Jumilla already-aged wine is showing a raisin character but still showing well, with hints of anise, blackberry and dried fruit. A touch of sweetness and higher alcohol makes it almost port-like. I have to think this is a wine intended to drink younger, but one that turned out to age excellently. If you like the character of aged wine, or want to find out if you do, try this one. $10.

At such a low price, both these wines are worth checking out and stocking up on your favorites.