It is one of the hardest to pronounce grape varieties, but the quality of wine produced from Mourvèdre, definitely makes up for its wild characteristics.
Originated in Spain, Mourvèdre grapes were then called Monastrell and are used to produce most dark red wines and dry rose. It became the dominant varietal when it was brought to Provence in the late Middle ages. At the end of the 19th century, grape pests called phylloxera invaded the vineyards and destroyed the grapes. Wine makers also found it difficult to graft the Mourvèdre rootstock because of the pest’s invasion. This was very devastating especially for the Mourvèdre variety. Because of its sensitivity to the phylloxera, most wine producers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape have chosen to replant easier to graft varieties like Grenache in most areas in the region. Mourvèdre was then exclusively found in Bandol, on the French Mediterranean coast where the soil is sandy and phylloxera-free. It was blended with Grenache and Cinsault to produce red wines and also as dry rose. It was only after World War II when grafting problems were resolved. Jacques Perrin of Château de Beaucastel then made efforts of having Mourvèdre as the leading grape variety in their red Beaucastel wines. This paved the way for the vast growth of plantings in Southern France in the late 1960s.
Mourvèdre grape varieties was brought to California and was called Mataro for many years. It currently grows on over 500 acres of land in California. Mourvèdre are quite difficult to graft, requiring a longer time for growth and ripens very late during the season. It is attracted to heat but needs a substantial amount of water for survival and likes a windy climate. The Californian wine region’s terroir makes a suitable place to grow the grapes. It is said to be the best grown grape in Paso Robles, California. The region’s climate suits the late-ripening process of the variety, developing more complex flavors and finer wine features.
Aside from California, it is also widely found in the regions of Australia. Australia’s climate seems to favor the growth of the grapes. It also blends well with the region’s older varieties, Shiraz and Grenache. Shiraz provides richness and chocolate features, the Grenache grape varieties is responsible for softening and sweetening the flavors, and Mourvèdre brings more earthly flavors and wildness into the wines.
Mourvèdre produces full-bodied wines with intense purple color but has a rich and velvety taste. It is high in acid, tannins and alcohol. It can be a quite tannic grape variety and pops a gamy aroma when young but finer features like leathery and forest floor aroma develop when aged well. Californian Mourvèdre produces tannic and full-bodied wines with a hint of spice. Although there are wines that can be produced from 100% Mourvèdre, the variety seems to be more appealing when blended with Rhone varieties. Blending it with the warm and fruity Grenache softens its structures while its blend with Syrah gives a spicy-tannin edge to it.
While its name is a tongue twister itself, the intensity and richness of the flavors produced by Mourvèdre undeniably create a strong impression for wine lovers. Its versatility for either standing alone or being blended with other grape varieties makes it a well favored grape variety.
Sip and take your tongue to a different twist with Mourvedre.