Wine Wednesday: Mourvèdre

Happy Wine Wednesday everyone! Today we are diving into Mourvèdre, the often underestimated, full bodied “M” of that gorgeous GSM blend you may have tasted the other night, perhaps at the girl & the fig? 😉

The Mourvèdre grape is a red wine grape variety, used in making stand alone varietal wines, GSM (Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre) blends, as well as rosé and port style wines. Wines made from Mourvèdre are full bodied, deeply colored, well structured, and have tight, long lasting tannins. Young Mourvèdre wines tend to have notes of black berry fruits, pear, and soft red fruits. At about 5 years old, the wines develop their distinctive, complex characteristics which include meaty and herbaceous aromas, hints of jammy fruits, truffle, leather, wild game, and spices.

Mourvèdre’s strong tannins and meaty aromas make it an ideal candidate for blending, as the varietal will add color and structure to varietals with more fruity and elegant profiles.

Though a bit of a mystery, it is generally agreed that Mourvèdre traces its origins back to Spain, most likely around 500 BC. Mourvèdre is also known as Mataro or Monastrell, with the French name of Mourvèdre most likely originating from the Spanish town of Muriedro, and the Spanish used Mataro coming from the same named city, near what is now Barcelona. “Monastrell” may have come about as a “neutral” name for both regions.

In France, Mourvèdre was much more widely cultivated before the phylloxera crisis of the 1880s. Mourvèdre was able to survive in areas such as Bandol, where the sandy soils provided a safe growing area where phylloxera could not survive. Fast forward to the 1980’s, when interest and appreciation for Mourvèdre increases, therefore increasing plantings and importance of the grape, especially in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Around the same time in California, the Rhone Rangers were discovering 100 year old Mataro (Mourvèdre) vines east of San Francisco, causing stand alone varietal wines and blends to take on new allure, and thereafter be produced.

Notable producers of Mourvèdre include Cline Cellars, Bonny Doon, Villa Creek Cellars, Domaine Tempier, Saxum Vineyards, Domaine de la Mordoree, and Clos Saint Jean.

Photo by Joel Peterson

Photo by Joel Peterson

If I may suggest, next time you sit down for a glass of wine and start to reach for your tried and true varietal, perhaps look to a Mourvèdre instead. As Madeline Puckette of “The Wine Folly” so eloquently puts it, “Fortunately for you, wine is not marriage; your [favorite] wine won’t ask for a divorce if you spend the evening with another bottle.” Cheers to Mourvèdre, and to your next wine adventure.

Photo courtesy of Cline Cellars.

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