Acidity: Medium to high
Age: Most should be drunk within a few years of release, but those from Bandol in France, and good varietal wines, need several years to soften their tannic structure.
Aka: Also known as Monastrell and Mataro in Spain. Generally referred to as Mataro in the USA.
Mourvèdre (moor-VEDH-ruh) is a high quality grape variety, which is best known today by its French name, although it actually originated in Spain where it is still widely planted and known as Monastrell and Mataro. In the late Middle Ages it made its way to southern France, from the Spanish town of Murviedro (hence the origin of its French name).
It is a very thick-skinned grape, which ripens slowly and is usually one of the last varieties to be harvested. It therefore needs a long and hot growing season to fully ripen and reveal its true character. It makes deep coloured, full bodied wines with high tannin, medium to high acidity and high alcohol which require bottle age to soften their dense structure.
When young, they have typical ‘meaty’ or gamey aromas, which can be mistaken for wine faults. On the palate, they display red fruit and blackberry flavors accompanied by pronounced spicy, herbal and earthy notes. As they age they develop more complex flavors of leather, mushroom and truffles along with notes of black pepper, cinnamon and licorice, as well as coffee and chocolate.
Mourvèdre makes elegant, concentrated and very individual wines, but only when the grapes have achieved full ripeness, as otherwise the wines will be tannic and one dimensional. Generally, Mourvère is used for blending and is increasingly considered a highly desirable ‘improving variety’ as it brings important blending qualities much appreciated by winemakers. Its firm structure and savoury flavors beautifully compliment the fleshy richness of Grenache and Syrah.
It can play either a leading or supporting role in blends, but is best known for the important part it plays in Rhône-Style Blends and their New World equivalent, often referred to as GSM for short (blends of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre). Mourvèdre has the ability to age well and when made as a varietal wine, or when playing a leading role in blends (such as in Bandol in France), it needs bottle age to soften its structure and allow its flavors to develop.
This is a grape variety that we will see and hear more of in the years ahead: it has proven its ability to make world class wines.
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