WINES WITH MOURVEDRE
Mourvèdre as a cultivated wine variety originated in Spain, where it is also called mataro or monastrell. Over 250,000 acres are planted there and, although many vineyards are intermingled with the bobal variety, only grenache outnumbers total monastrell acreage. It is the principal black grape of the five appellations that cluster on Spain's Southeastern Mediterranean Coast, Almansa, Valencia, Alicante, Jumilla, and Yecla. Prior to the late Nineteenth Century phyloxera devastation, mourvédre was also widely planted in Southern France.
There are contradictions and anomolies in the growth characteristics and properties of mourvédre vines. Mourvédre is a very late variety in both bud break and ripening season. It can recover quite well from Spring frosts, but sometimes succombs to cold Winter temperatures. It craves heat and survives in locations too windy for other varieties, but can be drought-sensitive.
Phylloxera nearly drove mourvèdre to extinction, because the vines took so poorly to grafting that most vineyardists deemed the results not worth the effort. Replanting did not begin seriously until following World War II, 60 years after the devastation, when sufficient vinestock was developed that had both adapted to grafting and had consistent production history.
Until the late 1960s, however, the main French plantings of mourvédre were in Provence, where it is the dominant grape in Bandol. Total mourvédre vineyards in France increased from 2,200 acres in 1968 to nearly 14,000 by 1988.
Mourvèdre is a slow-ripening variety that develops tight bunches of grapes that need good ventilation to avoid rot. It seems to do best in windy climates like Southern France, in parts of Spain and Algeria, and in Australia, where it is known as mataro.
Wine makers frequently use Mourvédre's dark, thick-skinned berries in blends to boost color and tannin, but often bemoan its absence of distinct flavors. Beginning in the early 1980s, several Australian wineries popularized various blends of Grenache, Shiraz, and Mataro as "GSM" wines; the combination has also become common in California. Unblended Mourvèdre wines tend to be deep-colored, quite tannic, somewhat alcoholic, and have generally "spicy" and sometimes, "gamey" aromas in their youth.-winepros.org