Temecula’s wine country is somewhat like downtown Las Vegas. All of the big, well known wineries (Mount Palomar, Wilson Creek, South Coast) all run along one main strip, Rancho California Road. However, also like Las Vegas, there are some truly exceptional properties slightly off the beaten path. One of these such places is Masia de Yabar, a winery located just off the less traveled De Portola Road.
Masia de Yabar is a Spanish style winery. Everything from the design of their tasting room, to the heritage of the owner/wine maker, to the varietals that they produce is inspired by Spain. They have a unique selection of wines in their lineup, featuring not only some Temecula Valley standards like Viognier and Cabernet Sauvignon, but also some Iberian varietals that can be tough to find anywhere else. Those are the wines we’re focusing on today. Grenache Blanc, Tempranillo, and Monastrell, all traditional Spanish favorites, being produced right here in the Temecula Valley.
Wine #1: Masia de Yabar 2007 South Coast Grenache Blanc
Grenache Blanc is essentially a white mutation of the more well known red Grenache grape. Although it is far from being a commonly planted variety, parts of France and Spain have been making excellent blends and varietal wines using this grape for years. These wines are often round and fruity, with exceptional body and low acidity, making them very versatile when pairing with food.
This wine has a curious aroma. The initial sniff yields brown butter, a somewhat toasted quality, and something that is somewhere between fresh diced tomatoes and artichokes. A gentle spin in the glass brings out some poached pear aromas, some green apple, and some ginger preserves. There is also a faint grassiness around the edges, and a touch of almonds lingering throughout. The aroma’s uniqueness factor alone had me convinced that this was a wine that I had to feature, and even before I tasted it, I had a feeling this was going to be good.
The palate opens thick and oily with an edge of Old World bitterness running through it. I immediately pick up on some brown butter flavors and something that takes me back to the time that I tasted an uncooked roux in a past cooking class. There are lots of bread dough components in the beginning, but this eventually gives way to some white peach and green pear, with a mixed assortment of melon flavors and a nice flower bouquet quality. There are tropical fruits and figs on the finish with a jasmine infused green tea flavor mixed in with some subtle limestone long after the wine is gone.
This is an interesting wine. It’s really thick and full bodied, with a nearly non-existent acidity. It’s totally round and rich, with an intriguing oiliness, and overall, it’s pretty impressive. There is a definite uniqueness factor to this wine, and that alone makes it…
Worth Trying. 88 points.
Wine #2: Masia de Yabar 2005 South Coast Inolvidable Tempranillo
“Inolvidable” translates from Spanish to “unforgettable,” and the wines in this collection are built to be just that. Tempranillo is Spain’s own noble varietal, and is used to make the legendary wines of La Rioja. Here in California, as in the Old World, Tempranillo makes powerful, age-worthy reds brimming with complexity and terroir expression.
This wine’s aroma is uniquely multilayered. There are warm notes of caramel and mocha, with a subtle buttery quality and a nice nuttiness. There is a generous amount of spice, mixed in with some ripe plum tones, as well as a somewhat pastoral, rural (herbs and leather) tone that gives the aroma some serious depth.
It opens with sweet raspberry and cherry tones, kissed with a light touch of oak cask. There are some dark chocolate and mint flavors playing off a bit of cranberry and some pretty strong dark stone notes. This is a subtle wine, but its very nicely complex, with an evolving, unfolding quality about it. It’s ripe and refined, and it has a very nice structure, with delicate cacao powder-like tannins. This is a very well done wine and absolutely…
Worth Trying. 91 points.
Wine #3: Masia de Yabar 2005 Temecula Valley Inolvidable Monastrell
Monastrell, perhaps more commonly known as Mourvedre, is one of my favorite varietals. It’s instantly recognizable, and its aroma and flavor profile are so complex and unique, that you can often spend hours analyzing it as it unfolds and opens up. These are big wines, typically loaded with alcohol, and often described as being extremely earthy and gamey. I have often found a chocolate covered cherry and wildflower component in many of these wines, and the balance between their almost ranchy terroir and these more hedonistic qualities makes them entirely unique.
Living up to my expectations for this varietal, this wine’s aroma is both earthy and perfumed. Initially, there are strong cherry notes, with some red apple, combined with a bit of sugar cane and raspberry mousse. I then pick up on some mushroom and fennel, some toasted walnuts, and a little bit of charred bramble. It’s interesting how these two completely different sets of aromas can come together in one wine, but they manage to do so flawlessly.
On the palate I pick up on dried cherries, a bit of oak, some kitchen spices, and a bit of vanilla pod at the beginning. A little deeper in, there are some butter-sauteed walnuts, some very dark tones (like licorice and asphalt), and the hallmark raspberry and coffee bean flavor that I often find in Monastrell. The finish is bright and almost citrusy, with some really nice blood orange components that last and last.
This is a great wine. It’s bright and ripe, with an excellent, lush fullness about it, while maintaining that earthy edge that is so impressive about this varietal. The tannins are smooth, and the gently citrus quality on the finish really catches my attention. This is an awesome wine for the price, and is a no-question purchase whether you’re new to Monastrell or an established fanatic. Absolutely…
Worth Buying. 92 points.
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The Grapevine: What’s your experience with the wines of Spain?