Mourvedre

Mourvedre grapes
Photo by Salva Barbera.

Overview

Also known as Mataro or Monastrell, Mourvedre is a beautiful, tannic wine that has been embraced by many of the world’s wine growing regions. Although not commonly bottled as 100% Mourvedre, they are often found in blends alongside other Rhone region grapes, particularly Grenache.

Origin

Common belief is that the Phoenicians brought the grape to Catalonia around 500 BC. The name Mourvedre is derived from the region Murviedro (today the area Sagunt), while the name Mataro comes from the Mataro region of Cataluna.

The grape made its way to France in the 1700s, where it thrived in the Rhone Valley; in the 1860s it was introduced to the United States, where it was welcomed by California growers.

Primary Regions

Australia, France, Spain and the United States are the primary producers of Mourvedre wines.

In Australia, the grape is typically blended into Rhone style wines (called a GSM because they are often blends of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre). As of late there have also been some late harvest wines produced from this grape.

Wines labeled “Bandol” in France are made primarily from the Mourvedre grape. It is often a component of Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines as well. Mourvedre is also used in the Languedoc-Roussillon late harvest wines.

Known as Monastrell in Spain, the grape is the principal grape in the  Almansa, Valencia, Alicante, Jumilla, and Yecla regions. However, lately this belief that the Monastrell and Mourvedre grapes are identical has come under scrutiny: only future DNA testing will tell.

California’s most popular Rhone-style producing region, Paso Robles, is a primary region for Mourvedre in California. In addition, the grapes are grown in Ontario, Cucamonga Valley and in Calaveras County.

Characteristics

Mourvedre is a highly tannic wine with soft fruit flavors and a meaty, gamey richness. It exudes aromas of thyme, clove, cinnamon, and black pepper, notes of violet, and oak, toast, tar and sweet wood.

Pairing Suggestions

Mourvedre is a big, tannic wine. We suggest BIG dishes: grilled meats, stews that pack a punch, pork chops with a fruit reduction, asian beef stir-fries, and bittersweet chocolate.

Serving Temperature

Mourvedre should be served between 65 and 70 degrees. Serving it colder will stifle the delicate floral aromas and flavors.

Our suggestions

We are fans of the Tablas Creek Rhone blends from Paso Robles and the Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant from Santa Cruz as well as the Stump Jump GSM and the Rolf Binder GSM from Australia’s Barossa Valley.

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