Mourvedre, also recognized as Mataro or Monastrell in different regions, is a red wine grape variety with a rich history and a unique character. It thrives in various wine-producing areas around the world, including France, Spain, the United States, Australia, and South Africa. Mourvedre is not only used to create varietal red wines but is also a key component in popular “GSM” blends alongside Grenache and Syrah. Additionally, it finds its way into rosé wines and fortified port-style wines.
The success of Mourvedre grapes depends on specific climatic conditions and soil profiles. This grape variety craves warmth and sunlight, making it suitable for regions with hot, arid climates. It thrives when it can bask in the sun while having access to sufficient water or irrigation to produce intensely flavored fruit without excessive jamminess or herbaceous qualities.
The wines made from Mourvedre are known for their distinctive characteristics. They often exhibit wild game or earthy notes, complemented by soft red fruit flavors. In their youth, some Mourvedre wines can display reductive, sulfur notes and “farmyard-y” flavors, but these tend to mellow with aging.
Mourvedre grapes are robust, producing tannic wines with the potential for high alcohol content. The grape clusters are compact, which can make them susceptible to mildew, but their thick-skinned berries are high in color and flavor phenolics, especially tannins. These grapes ripen late, often leading to a short harvest window, with acidity declining rapidly as they approach peak ripeness.
In terms of viticulture, Mourvedre prefers well-draining, clay soils on south-facing slopes that retain enough moisture to nourish the vines but not so much that they grow overly vigorous foliage. This grape variety can withstand late harvest rains without the berries swelling and bursting. The vines are often trained in various ways to manage their growth and optimize grape quality.
In Spain, Mourvedre, known as Monastrell, has a stronghold in regions like Jumilla, Yecla, Valencia, Almansa, and Alicante, while in France, it thrives mainly in the warmer Provençal region of Bandol along the Mediterranean coast. In the United States, it has found a home in California and Washington State, producing wines with a more approachable tannic profile than their Old World counterparts.
In winemaking, Mourvedre is often blended with other varieties like Grenache and Syrah to create complex and balanced wines. It is also used in rosé production, where its contribution adds depth and character to these wines.
Mourvedre is a versatile grape with a rich history, and its wines are known for their unique character. Whether as a varietal wine, a blend, or a rosé, Mourvedre continues to captivate wine enthusiasts worldwide.