Mourvedre: California’s warm climate is conducive to this rich, velvety wine
October 24, 2008
TRUCKEE ” Last week’s column discussed two of the three grapes used in some of the tastier blends, known as GSM blends, Grenache and Syrah. This week we will find out a little more about the lesser-known alternative red grape, Mourvedre (Moo-Vehd).
The Mourvedre is a late-ripening grape, which prefers warm climates in order to reach full flavorful maturity. The grapes themselves are small, and sweet with dark, thick skin. These grapes produce wines that are medium bodied, deep dark red in color, full of cherry, dark berry, with earthy or somewhat gamey flavors, firm tannins and high in alcohol.
The major growing regions are France, Spain, California, the Red Mountain region in Washington state and Australia. It is used in the Rhone valley to produce Chateauneuf-Du-Pape and Cotes du Rhone wines, which can be produced from 23 different grape varieties. The most common blend used to make these wines are Syrah and Grenache with Mourvedre, Cinsault or Carignan are often added.
It is the second most planted grape, after Grenache, in Spain, with more than 250,000 acres planted with the Monastrell grape, as it is named there. In the New World regions and Portugal, it is also known as Mataro.
In California, the vine, then known as Mataro, had been growing since the 1870s. It had become increasingly unpopular with winemakers until the Rhone Rangers realized Mataro and Mourvedre was one and the same grape. The demand increased in the 1990s for Rhone-style blends. New plantings took place in warm Contra Costa County and in the Central Valley. There are still vineyards of Mourvedre located in southern California, dating from the turn of the 19th and 20th century. Today, there are about 400 acres planted in the warmer wine regions of California.
In Australia it is widely used to produce the popular Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre, GSM, wines.
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Mourvedre is a perfect partner to Grenache, adding structure to the wine, and to Syrah, to which it adds a fleshier essence.
Mourvedre wines are dry and pair well with barbecued meats, fish and chicken or a roasted leg of lamb. It goes well with venison or duck with cranberry or pepper sauces and is a great choice with meat or root vegetable stew. Perhaps even a Portobello mushroom burger.
The structured balance of this wine makes it very age-able, with the flavors turning earthier over the years. A well made Mourvedre can age 10-15 years.
Finding a single varietal Mourvedre wine will take some investigating, but there are many out there. The popular Rhone style blends are more easily located, but the quest for a single varietal wine will be worth your effort. Especially this time of year when we tend to enjoy heartier foods and stews.
2006 Tabalas Creek Mourvedre.
Aromas of plums, spice, and roasted meat. This wine is juicy, with a full mouth feel, and flavors of chocolate, coffee, currants and dark plums. There is a distinct mineral finish, with hints of leather.
2006 Syncline, Coyote Canyon Vineyard, Mourvedre.
The aromas and flavors of dried plums, cassis, cloves, coffee, and black pepper, with a long lingering finish awaits you when you open this very distinctive Mourvedre from Washington.
006 Cline, Ancient Vines Mourvedre, Contra Costa County.
Flavors and aromas of cherry and mint help make this delicious wine an unusual delight with a chocolate character and soft tannins.
” Janice Jones is a Truckee resident and wine consultant. You may reach her at email@example.com.