Tag Archives: Mourvedre

A Wine that’s Almost Classic!

Tessellae Old Vines, Cotes du Roussillon, 2013Tessellae

A beautiful and richly balanced aroma of dark fruits and wood tones, highly appealing; almost perfect balance on the palate and in the mouthfeel; a little too crisp for the garnering of a higher score in the classic range; the finish is long and lasting, coating the mouth with no indication of unripe tannins or bitterness; full and satisfying — right from the start, you can see this is a wine that is rating over 90 and is in the outstanding range of scores. 

There’s a blend of grapes here: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre.  What gives this wine an added appeal is the harmonious blend of its grapes.  Not all winemakers can blend and make a synchronous marriage of grape varieties that have their own characteristics, which want to express themselves and be somehow noticed but yield to each other in this way.  Yes, you could guess the grapes used in this wine, but individuality has been obscured as much as possible to provide a unity, and this wine has succeeded. 

There are notes of black tea, raspberry and loads of blackberry to keep it mellow, and hints of dried strawberry.  From the world of oak come dark chocolate, clove and a background of leather (faint but present).  It is a GSM on which to model your taste and idea of this classic blend.  Keep it a few years, as it is still young with promise. 

Rating:  94

Emotional rating:  the pleasures of harmony are outstanding and it is highly pleasing

Available:  widely

From Gigondas, France to Rotie Cellars in Washington State

Autumn Grape Vines, Red Mountain, Benton City, Washington

Autumn Grape Vines, Red Mountain, Benton City, Washington

Compare Rotie Cellars 2012, Southern Blend, Washington State 

With 65% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah this is a blend of the grapes similar to the  Southern Rhone that will approximate Guigal’s Gigondas Rouge.

It  would appear at first impressions that more new oak has been used on the Rotie wine.  Oak

Rotie Cellars 2012 Southern Blend

Rotie Cellars 2012 Southern Blend

aromas and ripe dark fruit dominate on the nose.  Prune (for some noses, plum) with coffee and smoke create a solid aromatic foundation.  The expected effects of Mourvedre are easily detected.  This is a much darker wine than the Gigondas and although the individual flavors are not so apparent on the nose, a soft attack (which this dark wine does not forecast) is however what we find on the palate.  The synchronism of the elements make for a harmonious experience in the mouth.  This is a soft monster.

A New World wine often shows these characteristics: fullness and softness.  Riper fruit, deeper tones, application of noticeable oak and the overall attempt by the winemaker clearly stated by this wine that “I am something.”  Both wines stimulate our emotional responses.  The Rotie also asks the question, “Do you really think I come from the New World and am crafted for New World palates?  And have I succeeded?”  Answer: Yes, if this is your style.

What about Old World mineralogy?  Any of that here?  Hardly!  One might strain to notice it, but the design is fruit at its fullest with character added for distinctiveness.  Personally the prune/plum character is not my favorite and the grapes were a little too ripe at harvesting for me, but that’s a style issue.

Make your analysis.  Which do you like best and why?  What are the similarities and dissimilarities?  Does the comparison advance your knowledge of what is happening in France these days?

Rating:  89

How Wine Got to France – Mourvedres Compared

Cline Mourvedre 2014Bandol

The smoothness and (for a Mourvedre) the abundant fruit of the Cline Family Cellars, you will remember, is what we saw as the character of the California wine.  As with so many New World wines that strive for a seamless balance, it can leave you with little to differentiate it from another wine.  All slide down without a clear statement of their personality, at times.  French wines are usually not driven by these same goals, so expect (even in the warmer climate of Provence) a difference.  One can conclude that the French wine’s lack of smoothness and fruitiness to match the California wine is due to the inability to ripen the grapes as fully in France.  But we shall see that in Provence, where ripeness is really not a problem (certainly not as it is in regions like Bordeaux), the winemaker is striving for a different goal: the unique character of the terroir.

In La Bastide Blanche from the Appellation Bandol Controlee 2012 (to be named as an appellation wine, it must contain a large proportion of Mourvedre), we will be introduced to both the appellation (terroir) and the grape variety.  Given this southern climate, it comes in at 14.5% alcohol — only half a percent less than the Cline from California.   Go ahead and choose a Mourvedre from the New World — US (the Cline, if you can get it) or Australia — and compare the two.  I chose the Cline Ancient Vines Mourvedre 2014 at 15% alcohol because it would give us a good contrast and point out the difference in New World and Old World wines to begin our journey through France.  Taste with me.

Bandol in Provence:  We are met with a deep shade of ruby (maybe a little lighter than the Cline), vanilla, tar, black cherry, plum, cedar and perhaps a little burnt toast, with added mineral layers.  This wine slides over the palate smooth and with a refreshing, pleasant acidity.  The finish is long, with lingering mineral and wood notes mixed with a little fruit and no bitterness from the tannins. The tannins are soft in a slightly less warming alcohol than the Cline.  It is truly varietal, as is the Cline, but different.  This wine has real character and a greater complexity than the Cline.  The Cline is smoother, softer, and fruitier.

Do you think that this wine has more finesse, dryness and layers of dark, savory flavors?  For some palates, it may take a little getting used to — especially if we crave a touch of sweetness and loads of fruit.  Remember, I flagged you that this grape is difficult to vinify and can show flavors of tar.  Does this one do that?  Some people like the flavors of this wine, and some don’t.    This is about you and your taste.  Make your decision.

Perhaps the main difference is the minerality we get in the wine.  Is minerality something you like?  Again, that depends on you and your taste.  Old World and New World stand in contrast, side by side, with these two examples of the Mourvedre grape.  We will find both similarities and contrasts as we journey.

Both wines make this grape of ancient origin — familiar in France, Australia, and Spain — a truly informative experience.   I hope you have enjoyed our first leg and learned something from this winding journey through France and the New World.

Mourvedre – Grown and Made Well In Many Places

William Chris Mourvedre

William Chris Mourvedre

William Chris Winery, Hye, Texas  Mourvedre

Somewhere around 500 BC, this ancient grape variety may have been transported to Spain from the middle East country of Phoenicia, a longtime rival and neighbor of Israel.  It is testimony to the many red grape varieties that were popular in the ancient world.  Typically, it does not rack up a great age, showing brown tinges at 10 years of age in many examples.  To experience this grape, try a French Mourvedre from the Bandol region in Provence and a Monastrell from Spain.  It is widely used in Australia where it is called Mataro and adds depth and complexity to their famous Shiraz and other blends, so see if you can find an Australian Mataro as a single varietal.  To complete your knowledge of how this wine tastes and grows well in many places, try the William Chis (listed above) from Texas.  Surprisingly, Mourvedre is used in Cava, the well known Spanish sparkling wine, to make a sparkling rosé and also in rosés in Provence.  Long live this ancient grape!

The William Chris example was very varietal, with a clear bright ruby appeal.  Its fruit is dark blackberry with black olive, oregano, and wood overtones of cedar, coffee, smoke, and tar, softened with cocoa.  The tannins are sweet.  William Chris has formulated a wine with fresh acids that are not dominant but carry their refreshment all the way to a smooth but lively finish.

Both Colorado and Texas Mourvedre holds promise for the future and exciting appeal for those who drink them now.

Rating:  89-90

Emotional rating:  You will love a meal that contrasts its darkness with bright rich food.

Availability:  From the winery.

Mourvedre? In Colorado?

Creekside Cellars’ 2010 Mourvedre, total cases 54 

Lunch on the deck over Bear Creek at Creekside Cellars Winery and Bistro

Lunch on the deck over Bear Creek at Creekside Cellars Winery and Bistro

If you are a fan of fashionable grapes, then tune in to Mourvèdre.  In Spain, it is loosing ground, but not so in the south of France.  Plantings are increasing and the grape is favored.  California has caught on.  And Australia, though having lost considerable acreage to an ill advised vine pull, is now finding this grape’s wonderful characteristics again.  Better clonal selection has a lot to do with its resurgence.  Last year, Colorado released only one Mourvèdre (to my knowledge) as a varietal  and it is available through Creekside Cellar’s Wine Club.

Mourvèdre’s characteristics are:

  • Much needed structure for blending with more loosely put together reds ,such as Grenache and Cinsaut
  • An intense fruitiness — especially dark fruit
  • Some hold it is more fleshy than Syrah
  • A nose of blackberries, especially a perfume that reminds of blackberries coupled with a gamey, animal characteristic
  • Aging potential
  • Strong tannins
  • The headiness of high alcohol
  • Thick-skinned berries loaded with phenolics

In Colorado, when it ripens well it is a surprise, since it cannot stand very low temperatures and buds and ripens late.  The grapes for Creekside’s wonderful 2010 version came from Palisade.

Emotionally, we are set up for this wine by its almost opaque, dark red color.  The nose could not be more varietal, sporting the aroma of fresh, juicy blackberries, coupled with the darkening tones of vanilla from French Oak.  Lifting its dark character a little and adding another fresh note is the lighter aroma of thyme.  The body seems lighter than its 14.9% alcohol would indicate due to the refreshing fruit.  With 20 months in oak, it does not lack complexity, sparkles with fruit, and is vibrant with well-matched acids, begging for rich food.  Mocha and leather round out its dominant flavors.  It has a power-packed finish.  Drink and enjoy a prize wine — another great example of the potential that exists in Colorado for winning vitas vinifera products.

If you are fortunate enough to visit Evergreen, Colorado, be sure to stop by Creekside Cellars’ Winery and Bistro to enjoy their wine and great food in a quaint and beautiful Colorado setting.

Rating 90

Emotional rating?  The same feelings you might have in a ripe blackberry patch with the added benefit of fermentation.

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You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in my book, “Experiencing Colorado Wine,” and you’ll find the description of the pairing of several of them with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.

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