The Saucy Dressings’ chief taster was making “hmmm” noises as he sniffed and sipped this wine appreciatively without looking at the bottle. “Well, it doesn’t have the taste of a Burgundy… or a ….hmm…when a wine comes from just one grape” (he knew this was a Pinot Noir) “and from one place, the wine usually shout to you ‘I’m from here’. This one doesn’t – it’s more rounded – in a good way.”

Well, Castillo de Monjardin is in Navarre. And this is what Ralph had to say about it.


quotes1This wine comes from Navarra, close to the Rioja wine growing region. In fact although it’s an area famous for rosé I was looking for a Pinot Noir, a grape variety not recognised for quality in Spain. And I wasn’t just driving around looking, I’d done lots of research, I’d contacted everyone I could think of. In the end the whole thing snowballed and by the summer two years ago I’d actually managed to find 25 different Pinot Noir wines of interest in Spain.

We had a blind tasting back in England and out of the top three we selected this came in as number three. Then I tried it over the next three days, just replacing the cork, to see how it would develop (this is a good test of the quality of a wine). The two wines which came ahead of the Monjardin were quite a bit more expensive, but in terms of value for quality this one just excelled.

The Monjardin bodega is famous for their chardonnay throughout Spain, and the Pinot Noir grape is difficult to grow as it has a very thin skin. About six months later I finally met Victor in Madrid for a coffee – this is unusual for me as I usually like to visit the vineyard, or at least meet the growers before I buy. He was as keen to meet me as I him. They have an old-fashioned, ethical approach to wine making and the next time I go to Spain I’ll definitely stop at Monjardin.quotes2


£10 from Ralph’s Wines Online

Pork, veal, fish, chicken – a good all-rounder