Rusty Sly on Grape of the Night: Mourvèdre


The Grape of the Night  for the month of May was fantastic.  Everyone pulled out all of the stops and brought some terrific examples of a very unique wine known as Mourvèdre.  This wine originated in Spain and is also called mataro or monastrell.  It is the principal black grape of the five appellations on Spain’s Southeastern Mediterranean Coast, Almansa, Valencia, Alicante, Jumilla, and Yecla.  Generally, the varietal is blended with Grenache in Spain.  In France, this varietal is primarily found in southern Rhone where it is used in wines such as Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  Until the late 1960s, Mourvèdre was primarily grown in Provence France, where it is the dominant grape in Bandol.  If you want to try a fantastic summer wine, try a Rose from Bandol.  Mourvèdre is the primary grape used and they are light in body and extremely refreshing.  In the Bandol region, the wines produced must use a minimum of 50% Mourvèdre.

Knowing my GOTN group I need to emphasize that Mourvèdre grapes are also used to produce full bodied red wines.  Mourvèdre wines can be very tannic when young, and often demand at least six to eight years of cellaring.  Common aromas and flavors are spices (thyme, clove, cinnamon and black pepper), gamey and blackberry.  Unblended, Mourvèdre wines are deep-colored, quite tannic, somewhat alcoholic, and have generally “spicy” and sometimes, “gamey” aromas when young.   Alcohol ranged from 14.8% to 15.8% ABV.  After acquiring some age, these wines will gain nuance and grace, complementing their underlying savory and musky characteristics.  This was quite noticeable in the 2007 Graves from Paso Robles where the earthiness was well displayed.  In the early 1980s, several Australian wineries followed by the USA popularized various blends of Grenache, Shiraz, and Mataro known as “GSM” wines.

Below are the wines that the group sampled and evaluated:

·         2005 Demetria Couvee Constantine – Santa Ynez Estates, Los Olivos

Aroma – black cherry and spices
Taste – tannins, acids, dark fruits (cherry)
·         2009 Fleur Bleu Mourvèdre – King City, California

Aroma – nothing
Taste – acid, light tobacco, balance of the wine was mixed between group
·         2008 Adelaida Mourvèdre – Paso Robles

Aroma – blueberry, creamy and light floral
Taste – blueberry
·         2007 Graves Mourvèdre Ohana Vineyard – Paso Robles

Aroma – earthy (forest)
Taste –  tobacco at the end
·         2005 Core Mister Moreved Alta Mesa Vineyard – Santa Barbara County

Aroma – blueberry and floral
Taste – blueberry and light tobacco
·         2007 Juan Gil Jumilla Region – Spain

Aroma – baked with blueberries and floral
Taste –  blueberry, light spice and silky tannins
·         2008 Juan Gil Jumilla Region – Spain

Aroma – lighter blueberry than 2007, spice and a little earthiness
Taste – deep blueberry, medium spice, somewhat jammy and firm tannins
·         2007 Minassian Young – Paso Robles

Aroma – light blueberry
Taste – deep blueberry and spice

During our Grape of the Night meeting we sampled wines from various countries as well as different regions.  Each displayed unique differences based on terroir and vinification processes.  The consensus that I seem to receive from the group is that most of the group enjoyed the Mourvèdre wines.  I think that it is a valuable lesson to taste these unusual or less  sought after varietals by themselves (>85%) to truly understand them and what they offer in blends such as GMS or Roses.

I hope everyone enjoyed our tasting and walked away with a better overview and understanding of the Mourvèdre wines.  As always, I want to thank Valencia Wine Company for hosting our group.  Guy Lelarge and the VWC staff as always were there to help make the evening fun, educational and memorable.  This GOTN was well taken care of by Gino of VWC.  Thank you Gino.  I would also like to thank Vic Herstein for pouring and my wife Tracy for writing down the details of our evening.  I also cannot forget my editor for helping me with the GOTN.

The next Grape of the Night we will share and sample Tempranillo wines. Again, the wine must be a single varietal (>85%).   Tempranillo is a black grape widely grown to make full-bodied red wines in its native Spain. It is the main grape used in Rioja where it is often referred to as Spain’s noble grape.  In the last 100 years it has been planted in Mexico, New Zealand, South America, USA, South Africa, Australia, Turkey and Canada. Here is another varietal that is grown in many regions and countries.  The group was fantastic in selecting wines from all over for the Mourvèdre tasting and  I hope this will continue in our future meetings.  This is definitely the best way to broaden ones knowledge on wines.  The next meeting will be at Valencia Wine Company on June 06, 2011 at 7:00PM.  As always I look forward to seeing everyone for GOTN Tempranillo.

Here is a comical write-up by Appellation America to help you remember the characteristics of Mourvèdre:

You’re a brawny red brute. They know you as Mourvedre in the vinous wrestling rings of southern France. In that circus of appellations you step into the ring with an ensemble known as the All-A.O.C Bunch, although next to you, most of this competition is rather feeble. To be sure, you deliver colorful performances, with a rough and rustic edge, leading the thirsty crowds to chant “Animale, Animale, Animale”. For the American circuit a more macho name was required. Over here you became the Mighty Mataro! Initially popular in the crushing rings of Southern Cal’s Cucamonga, your popularity eventually waned. It’s a good thing that you’re thick-skinned. You rolled with the punches and are now making a comeback in the Bay Area, thanks to a group of promoters known as the ‘Rhone Rangers’

Rusty Sly

3 thoughts on “Rusty Sly on Grape of the Night: Mourvèdre

  1. I just recently tried MOURVÈDRE in one of my wine tastings. Most people can’t decide what kind of varietal this is. They find it interesting, different on the palate and love the nose. We paired it with different foods and WOW we were impressed. Great article and explanation of this wonderful varietal.

    Norma Serrano, Wine Consultant

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting Norma. Though I see that you run your own events, we hope to see you at one of ours someday!

  2. Norma,

    Thanks for the compliment. My wife is the chef for our house and we also enjoy the changes in wines when paired with different foods. It is interesting to me to find foods that are a perfect match and others that contrast a food. This allows one to have 2 different foods with the same wine and excite the palate differently. This may be a topic for a future GOTN. Thanks again.


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