Pronunciation – Mohr-Veh-Dra
Mourvèdre is a red wine varietal that originates from Spain, where it is known by the name Monastrell. By the 16th century, it had crept north to the Roussillon region of France, where the name Mourvèdre began to prevail.
Nowadays, it is grown in the Rhone and Provence regions of France, California, Washington, South Africa, and parts of Australia, where it is more commonly called Mataro. It is still prevalent in Spain too, being grown in the Valencia, Jumilla and Yecla appellations, as well as the Balearic Islands.
Mourvèdre is considered to be one of the more difficult grapes to grow. On the vine, its grapes are small, thick-skinned, and packed tightly together, making them susceptible to mildew. It also requires a delicate balance of warmth and good irrigation, and ripens very late in the year, giving growers a narrow window for harvest before its quality starts to decline. It’s a warm climate grape.
Mourvèdre isn’t usually used as a single-varietal wine. One example of a single varietal Mourvèdre can be found in a small appellation in Provence, called Bandol. It is most commonly used in Rhone-style blends, along with Grenache and Syrah, as well as being used to create fortified and rosé style wines.
Mourvèdre Tasting Notes
Mourvèdre is a full-bodied, tannic wine that can contain high levels of alcohol, from 12% to over 15%. It is generally a very deep red, close to the color of Syrah/Shiraz, and medium to high in acidity.
Mourvèdre’s flavors can vary depending on where it is produced, but a stereotypical version of the wine will contain dark fruits and an earthy meatiness. Blackberry, plum and blueberry will be the most obvious aromas, with purple flowers, such as violets, and earthy herbs, such as black pepper, thyme and olive. Mourvèdre can obtain some oaky flavors, but it doesn’t respond to oaking as well as some other varietals, so it is often aged in neutral barrels. In some regions and certain vintages, it can also contain gamey meat flavors.
New World Mourvèdre tends to be slightly less tannic, and more medium-bodied than Old World iterations of the wine.
It can also be made into fortified wine. This is a popular method in Australia, where it is often made into port, though Rhone-style blends with Mourvèdre are becoming more and more popular in the country.
Mourvèdre is used to make rosé in Old and New World regions. In Spain, it is often used as the red grape in Cava Rosé. Sometimes it is made in the saigneé method, where some of the juice is drained and used to make rosé. The rest of the time, it is made in the skin contact method, where the skins of the grape are left on for only a few hours, giving the juice a pale red appearance.
Blends Made From Mourvèdre
The most common way you’ll see Mourvèdre used is as part of a blend, usually with other grapes that are grown in the southeast of France. It is part of the famous GSM blend with the Rhone’s other main grapes, Grenache and Syrah, where it adds a deep red colour, earthy tones and a brooding, tannic structure. This blend is also produced in Australia and regions of the United States.
Mourvèdre can also be blended with Carignan and Cinsault, to make Rhone and Provence style rosés or table wines.
When To Drink Mourvèdre
Mourvèdre is best with heavy, meaty dishes, such as a roast dinner. It has a pungent nose and will be at its best if you decant it for an hour or so before serving. It’s perfect if you want an interesting alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah/Shiraz.
It will work well at a barbecue, thanks to its earthy profile, and pairs best with gamey meats, such as rabbit, venison or lamb. For vegetarians, rich roasted vegetables or barbecued mushrooms are the way to go. GSM blends are very versatile when it comes to food pairings but go particularly well with Mediterranean spices.
Mourvèdre is at its best when served at approximately room temperature, 67-71 ºF (19-22 ºC).
Best Years To Drink Mourvèdre
Mourvèdre has some great aging potential and will develop some interesting tertiary characteristics when aged in the bottle, but that also depends on quality. As a general rule, it can be aged for around 3-5 years. However, if you happen to get hold of a GSM blend from a great vintage, it can be cellared for 15-20 years and possibly even longer.
Young Mourvèdre is more likely to have gamey and strong herbal flavors, which can sometimes give the impression of a hay-strewn barn floor. It is strong and pungent when young, which can come across as a fault in the wine. However, it starts to mellow out after a few years of good cellaring and older Mourvèdre can develop more complex earthy flavors, such as leather, mushrooms and cocoa.
Mourvèdre Nutrition Facts
A glass of single-varietal Mourvèdre will contain approximately:
- 129 calories
- 3.9 grams of carbohydrates
- 0.1 grams of protein
Fun Facts About Mourvèdre
There are 95 different names for Mourvèdre across the world.
It is likely that Mourvèdre was introduced to Spain in 500 BC by the Phoenicians, a civilisation based in Lebanon that had trade routes all over the Mediterranean Sea.
It is the fourth most planted varietal in Spain, where it is known as Monastrell.