Whether it is recognized as Monastrell in Spain, or Mataro as it was known in California for many years, or as Mourvèdre in France and now labeled in the United States, it definitely is a grape worthy of the attention that it is garnering from the Rhone Rangers of California. So much so, that Mourvèdre will be highlighted in a seminar at this year’s Fort Mason American Rhone Rangers Tasting Weekend in March .
We have three interpretations of this variety at Beltramo’s that will win you over and grab your attention.
To understand this wine variety, it is important to first look to Spain, as this is where the variety is believed to have been growing since 500 BC. The 2011 Castillo Del Baron Monastrell ($12.99) is a wonderful example of not only the quality of these wines but also the value. This wine displays vivid perfumed aromas of dark cherries and white pepper with a punctuation of acidity. At this price, it is a wine that may be enjoyed frequently with a wide array of food styles.
In France, Mourvèdre is grown in the Southern Rhone but more dominantly in the Provencal region of Bandol. In Bandol, Mourvèdre is the main grape, but also has partnering varieties blended with it. Currently, we have the 2009 Tempier Bandol ($39.99), which displays a deep ruby color, aromas of dark fruit and intense smooth tannins. After five or six years of aging, the wine will develop notes of leather, forest-floor and small red fruit.
A great example of a 100% Mourvèdre being produced in California is, 2010 Halcon Vineyards Esquisto Mourvèdre ($19.99) from Yorkville Highlands. This vineyard is located at around 2500ft, in Mendocino County, on fractured shale, mica-schists and quartz rich rock depleted soils that resemble that of Côte-Rôtie. This truly is a labor intensive vineyard site that entails de-leafing and dropping of fruit for this Mourvèdre to ripen. Owner/Grower Paul Gorden states that only about one ton of fruit an acre was harvested in 2010 to make this wine. Starting out with focused minerality, followed by notes of blueberry and dark fruit, this Mourvèdre is definitely sure to spark conversation at your next gathering!
Chris M., Beltramo’s Wine Consultant