Dark-fruited and full-bodied
Like many lesser known varietals, the dark-fruited, full-bodied Mourvèdre has been traditionally relied upon as a blending grape to boost color, alcohol and tannic structure in wines like Grenache and Syrah. On its own, Mourvèdre can produce well-structured, fruit-forward wines, and in recent years its emergence as a stand-alone has been appreciated by enthusiasts captivated by its dark, brooding, earthy nature.
Mourvèdre loves hot, arid climates and thrives in heat-retaining soils of clay, limestone and gravel. Despite its thick-skinned berries, it is a difficult grape to grow, budding late and hanging long on the vine (sometimes until early November). This makes it susceptible to mildew rot and early frosts. Its higher residual sugar levels can result in excessive alcohol production during fermentation. Vines can take several years to produce quality fruit as well and yields can be very low.
France’s wine regions of Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon and the southern Rhône Valley are the domains of Mourvèdre. Before the 19th-century phylloxera louse devastation, it was dominant in these terroirs. It is principally used, in varying amounts, in blends like Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre (GSM), although producers have recently become more interested in stand-alone bottlings.
Blends from grapes grown in the sandy soils of Bandol on the southeast Mediterranean coast feature Mourvèdre as the dominant varietal. In Spain (where the grape is called “Monastrell”), some of the best Mourvèdre comes from the arid, rocky soils of the Jumilla region and Valencia, where it was first introduced 2,500 years ago by Phoenician seafarers.
The New World grows Mourvèdre as well, in California, Washington State and Australia, where it is labeled as “Mataro.” Mourvèdre is also used to make high-quality Rosés and Port-style wines.
Mourvèdre produces wines that are medium-to-full-bodied, deep in color, and high in acidity, alcohol, and tannins, with loads of dark fruit on the nose mingling with aromas of violets, herbs, chocolate, earth and black pepper. When young, these wines exhibit flavor profiles of blackberries, blueberries, currants, and plums, developing complexity, spice, and a meaty“ gaminess” as they age.
EXPERT WINE RECOMMENDATIONS
Chris Patel, Cork Keg & Spirits 1000 E. 31st St., La Grange Park. (708 998-2838)
2016 Château Bizard Blanc D’Amour (France) $20. Complex, fruity and floral, this southern Rhone Viognier/Grenache Blanc blend opens with aromas of fruits and acacia flowers that usher in a clean, slightly acidic palate.
NV Tinazzi Opera Rosso (Italy) $30. A ripe red blend of warm cherries, plums, figs and raisins on the nose, plus hints of mocha, earth and oak. In the mouth, cherries, berries, chocolate and spices link to a long, elegant finish.
Mike Yang, Malloy’s Finest, 1020 Maple Ave., Lisle. (630 271-0707)
2015 Volver Tarima Hills Old Vines Monastrell (Spain) $16. From sand-and-limestone soils comes a full-bodied, 100% Monastrell (Mourvèdre) with a bouquet of berries, pepper, flowers, and sweet spices that mingles with ripe and rich flavors of red and black fruit with nuances of dark chocolate, smoke, earth and spice.
2016 Cline Cashmere Exquisite Red (Calif.) $15. A Mourvèdre-based GSM from Carneros, deep in color and smooth on the tongue, exhibiting a fruit-forward mix of cherries, berries, and plums mingling with notes of chocolate and pepper.