By: Allison Ryan
Because of the challenges of cultivating Mourvedre grapes, they are not widely grown in vineyards throughout the world. It is a popular grape of the wineries along the Mediterranean coast of France because of the ideal climactic conditions.
It is also grown in Australia and California. While it was thought that the grapes of Spain were of this variety, research has shown that it is the Mourvedre and Monastrell grapes are two different varieties. Mourvedre grapes are mainly found in the Jumilla region of Spain.
Mourvedre grapes are late to ripen, which exposes them to the threat of frost. They have thick skins, which helps them resist rot and other diseases that can harm both the grapes and the vines. They grow in tight bunches on the vine and have to be pruned on a regular basis. There are 3 – 5 lobes on the leaves and the berries are of medium size and blue-black in color. The grapes need to have a lot of ventilation because they grow so tight together on the vine.
High temperatures are essential for the grapes to ripen and although they do need a lot of water, care must be taken with the humidity levels to which they are exposed. Too much humidity can cause the grapes to rot on the vine.
Another of the challenges posed by Mourvedre is the irregular yields wineries can have from year to year. One year may produce a good crop of grapes and the next year the yield may be way down. Most grape varieties will produce a commercial yield within three to five years, but it could take as long as ten years to realize any sizable crop from these vines.
The low tannic quality of Mourvedre wine makes it perfect as a blend to soften the taste of other wines. Many wineries in Australia use it as a blend for Grenache and Shiraz where they are marketed as GSM wines. When bottled as a varietal wine, it has a deep color and can be very tannic and alcoholic. When young, it has a spicy and gamey aroma. The wine is aged in heavy oak barrels, which gives it an aroma of oak, smoke, tar, toast and sweet wood.
Some of the common aromas of Mourvedre include leather, herbs and spices. The wine produced in the U.S. and Australia also has hints of sweetness. It leaves a savory finish on the palette. The earthy aromas are very strong when you open a bottle of this wine, so much so that you may think the wine has aged too long and should not be consumed.
However, this is a distinctive characteristic of the wine. As it ages it takes on the aromas of truffles and leather. The longer the wine ages, the more complex the tastes and aromas will become. Adding Grenache or Pinotage to the wine will help soften the overpowering scent with its fruity tastes and aroma.
With the earthy aromas of Mourvedre, it is the perfect wine to pair with dishes that have earthy flavors. It goes well with dishes containing mushrooms and root vegetables, as well as grilled meats. It is an excellent choice of wine to serve with wild game and with dark fowl, such as duck.