by Malcolm Jolley

I don’t want to tell you the price of a bottle of Bodegas Castano’s 2007 La Casona Monastrell (LCBO# 143743). I don’t want to tell you because I’m afraid you’ll roundly dismiss an $8.70 a bottle wine from the regular old ‘General List’ shelves of the LCBO. I’m not sure I’d be tempted if I saw it. The bottle’s pretty enough, but in too many cases, under $10 reds tend towards big multinationally blended, oakified sweet bombs that strip the enamel off teeth while delivering as much flaw-masking alcohol to the bloodstream of their sippers as is possible to pack into stemware. This is not at all the case with the La Casona, which is as well balanced as it is lively and delicious: dark red fruits, like blackberries – maybe even some blueberry – mingle with black pepper and a slight whiff of leather.

This is a perfect dock, patio or backyard wine, and I’d pair it with just about anything off the grill, especially if there was a bit of smoky taste to the chop, burger or sausage from the barbecue. I intend to bring a bottle or two to the next get-together I’m invited to and asks my friends, Pepsi-Challenge-style, how much they think it costs.

But why is this $20+ tasting wine less than $9? The Castano family’s winery is in Yecla, near Valencia, and they specialise in Monastrell, the Spanish name for Mourverdre – booth region and grape are relatively obscure. Although they’ve been growing grapes and making wine since the middle of the last century, they have steadily been making more and more of their own wine. What goes into La Casona would have been sold in bulk years earleir, so they are happy to keep more of the value-add profit by making it themselves, and we win with a great deal of a wine.