It is not the most well-known red grape type, but if you enjoy wine, you have most likely tried it. Indeed, Mourvèdre is a popular grape variety in Languedoc-Roussillon and the Rhone Valley. It is a grape variety with a distinct tannic structure and aromatic richness that is simply waiting to be recognized and developed in order to reach its full potential.
Whether you’ve only heard its name, have already enjoyed its tannic taste, or were unaware of its existence until now, let’s explore this excellent red grape variety, as well as its history and idiosyncrasies.
The origins of Mourvèdre
It is a Spanish black grape varietal known as Monastrell in its native tongue. It is distinguished by its big, spherical, serrated leaves. Its origins can be traced back to the city of Mourvedre (now known as Sagonte), which is located near Valencia. According to some accounts, this grape variety is also known as Mataró in other locations, after the name of a Catalan city where it originated.
Mourvèdre has evolved through the years in its homeland to become one of the country’s prominent red grape varietals, particularly in the aforementioned regions.
The Mourvèdre in numbers
Mourvèdre has over 120,000 hectares of vines worldwide, with the majority of them being in Spain, France, Australia, and California.
Mourvèdre is grown on less than 10,000 hectares in France, primarily in the Rhone Valley, Provence, and Languedoc-Roussillon.
It is most prevalent in Spain, its birthplace, with about 100,000 hectares of vines, primarily in the Valencia and Catalonia regions.
Mourvèdre grows primarily in warm southern locations that are conducive to maturation in France and around the world. It is the king grape variety in Spain, where it is the second most grown grape type.
Mourvèdre in France
This grape variety is mostly used in famous vintages in France. Furthermore, it is primarily farmed in Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence, and the Rhone Valley.
It was one of the prominent grape types in Provence prior to the outbreak of phylloxera at the end of the nineteenth century. Following this occurrence, and with the development of grafts, the Mourvèdre, which was less resistant and less willing to be grafted, was gradually phased out. After losing its attractiveness, it has returned to the forefront of the stage in this region for a few years.
Mourvèdre is a grape variety found in numerous AOCs in Provence, including Cassis, Côtes-de-Provence, Coteaux-d’Aix-en-Provence, and Coteaux-varois. It accounts for at least half of the red mixes in Bandol, with Grenache and Cinsault. He expresses himself best in this region of Provence.
Mourvèdre is also widely used in the Rhone Valley, particularly in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It adds depth and age-ability to wines dominated by Syrah and Grenache.
The Mourvèdre in the world
Mourvèdre is primarily found in California and Australia outside of Europe.
It is found primarily in the regions of New South Wales, where it was introduced in the 1880s. It is a member of the well-known GSM triptych (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre), a trio of grape varieties that blend exceptionally well in this region. Grape types are also popular among local customers.
He arrived in California in the 1860s, accompanied by large industrialists anxious to increase vine growing in these parts of America.
The particularities of the Mourvèdre
Wines from Mourvèdre are mainly quite low in acidity. But they are recognized for their tannic structures and aromatic richness. It is a grape variety that requires several years of aging to develop its entire fruity aromatic palette, which has a very late bud break.
Its main aromatic characteristics are pepper, truffle, and black fruits. Mourvèdre also transmits aromas of spices and leather to the wine.
This is why it is often confused with Cabernet Sauvignon in its youth, for these characteristics. It is expressed in the glass by great red wines of the guard, guided by a solid tannic weft. It is a grape variety that also gives very good gourmet rosé wines, of a dark almost purple color.
How do you drink Mourvèdre?
It is a tannic grape variety that must be aerated for a few hours before tasting due to its tannic appearance. It is aerated to allow the smells to grow and reflect all of their deliciousness. The more aeration is necessary, the more the grape variety is produced in a temperate zone.
Mourvèdre frequently produces wines with high alcohol content. As a result, the optimal operating temperature is around 16 or 17 degrees.
Mourvèdre is a grape variety that must be paired with fleshy meals, a diversity of flavors, and sauces when it comes to wine pairings. It is a rather wild grape type, which makes it ideal for pairing with robust meats-like game. Rosés made from Mourvèdre pair well with tapenade, shellfish, and fish.
Key dates in Mourvèdre history:
500 BC: Around 500 BC, the Phoenicians probably introduced the variety to Valencia.
1500: Mourvèdre was well-established in Roussillon, France, by the 16th century, when it was still part of Spain, and it spread eastwards to Provence and the Rhone.
1860: Mourvèdre arrived in California as part of the Pellier collection in the 1860s.
Want to read more about Wine? Try these books!
Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours. Jancis Robinson 2012
Wine. Years. People. Events. Massandra Wine Collection 2010
The World Atlas of Wine: 8th Edition. Johnson, H & Robinson, J. 2019