Red wine and chocolate sounds like a match made in heaven but they have traditionally been seen as a bit of a no-no together because the high sugar content in chocolate can overwhelm fruity flavours in red wine. Unless it's port or a fortified red, such as Banyuls from southern France, or unless you break the traditional rules. Which is not only interesting but sometimes essential to discover if those rules held any water in the first place.
Wine of the week with chocolate... 10 September
2017 Finca Baraca Four Elements Time Waits for No One
The wine we have chosen as our Wine of the Week for 10 September to 17 September seems like an ideal red to drink with chocolate.
It's new in store and we think it over delivers on flavour for the modest price in a big way - it is the 2017 Finca Baraca Four Elements Time Waits for No One GM Monastrell, on special at $23.99 (RRP $25.99).
It comes from the hot climate of Jumilla, a wine region in the Levante, north of Murcia, in central southern Spain.
The climate there is dry with a miniscule 300mms annual rainfall and the main grape is Monastrell - also known as Mourvédre. It's a dark red grape that ripens well in warm to hot climates like Jumilla and also in Bandol, a small appellation in Provence that's devoted mostly to Mourvédre and also Chateauneuf-du-Pape in the southern Rhone Valley.
Monastrell is the Spanish name for this deeply coloured red grape, which can ripen to a natural alcoholic strength of 18% in Jumilla's arid summer temperatures of up to 40 degree Centigrade during the day.
The intense colour, flavour and smoothness are the upsides of Monastrell. The downside is that this grape naturally gives pretty low yields. This means each grapevine produces a relatively small number of grapes, so it can be financially tenuous to make a profit from wines made from Monastrell.
Grapegrowers and winemakers in Jumilla are combatting historically low yields by planting new vines that are grafted onto rootstocks that will promote higher yields.
Approximately 80% of the grapes in Jumilla are Monastrell so most of the wine is a 100% varietal red made solely from this grape.
There are also blends of Monastrell with softer tasting red grapes such as Merlot and Tempranillo, both of which can help tone down the richness of the wine.
As for drinking red wine with chocolate, we all know what they say about rules - they're made to be broken. Or at least bent a little.