Mourvèdre may be the most famous grape you don’t know about and certainly is among more intimidating to pronounce: Moor VAY druh.
While seldom found alone in a bottle, often is key element of blend that makes bottles sublime.
Mourvèdre’s thick-skinned grapes produce tannic, high alcohol wine. That makes it perfect pairing with Grenache and Syrah in epic blends of southern Rhone. Such blends are called “GSM” (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre) outside southern Rhône.
Mourvèdre usually is third grape, but it can be lead grape. Mourvèdre shines in parched hillsides of France’s Bandol appellation in Provence, near Mediterranean. Famed American importer Kermit Lynch has been long smitten by Bandol’s Mourvèdre-dominant blends, so you can find it in most better wine stores.
If California or Australia is your lodestone, look for “Mataro” on label. Same grape as Mourvèdre. Ridge Vineyards is top maker.
Because it is late to bud, slow to ripen, and tolerant of heat—reflecting Spanish origins (where it is called Monastrell)—Texas growers fancy Mourvèdre has a Lone Star future.
So, why isn’t Mourvèdre an international superstar? For starters, it’s earthy taste and smell can stand up and slap you. French call it animale, others describe it as “something died in this bottle”. It turns off some, but Mourvèdre’s leathery, pungent earthiness is exactly what Mourvèdre lovers enjoy.
Wine is subjective. You love Mourvèdre or your don’t. Here’s to those who do not, because that means more for us who do.
• A. Ogier Heritages Cotes du Rhone. Figs and coffee, easy on the palate; excellent every day wine from France. Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah. $12
• D’Arenberg Stump Jump. Australia finds a winner in the Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre world. $12
• Bodegas Castano Monastrell Hecula. Cherries, complicated mix of floral, mineral, herbs. Solid tannins. $14
• Domaine Tempier Bandol. Decadent, meaty, full expression of Mourvèdre. France. $48.