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Awesome Mourvedre!

31 Jul

We had an awesome pairing of 6 Mourvedre’s (see picture of part of the group) with a lamb, caramelized onion and blue cheese pizza (among other food pairings). For some reason hard to fathom, Mourvedre is not very Imagewidespread, but is truly impressive. Any of you who like powerful, dark (and even brooding) wines with dried plums, truffles, leather, etc. will love this wine. We started with 2011 rose from Chateau Pibarnon which was quite lovely, and full. Someone averred that with his eyes closed he might think it was a red. This is a rose that can age (we had a very fine 2005 recently). The next was a monastrell (the Spanish name for mouvedre) which, though inexpensive, got better and better over time and was deemed the best value. The rest of the wines are higher in price, and all were wonderful in their own way, evolving in the glass as we sipped them. The Pibarnon from Bandol is a classic, with great complexity and layering; the Tablas Creek (Paso Robles) started earthy and opened up wonderfully. The Boislauzon, an unusual Chateauneuf de Pape of 100% Mourvedre, was powerful and yet balanced. The L’Aventure is different from the others, more of a blend with oak treatment, and very powerful. The rest of this blog was prepared before the tasting, and is on Mourvedre and the wines tasted.

Information on Mourvedre

One of the most difficult wines to pronounce, Mourvèdre (moor-VED-ruh ). is native to Spain, where it is known as Monastrell, originally from the Spanish town of Murviedro, near Valencia. Even more confusing, when it first arrived in CA, it was known as Mataro.

Mourvèdre was brought to Provence in the late Middle Ages, where it was the dominant varietal prior to the phylloxera (similar to aphids) invasion at the end of the 19th century. The phylloxera invasion was particularly devastating to Mourvèdre. Whereas most of the other Rhône varietals were easily matched with compatible rootstocks, Mourvèdre proved difficult to graft with the existing phylloxera-resistant rootstock. Thus, when the vineyards were replanted, most producers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape chose to replant with varieties that were easier to graft, such as Grenache. For decades, Mourvèdre was found almost exclusively in the sandy (and phylloxera-free) soil of Bandol, in Provence.

Compatible rootstocks for Mourvèdre were developed after World War II. Shortly thereafter, Jacques Perrin of Château de Beaucastel led regeneration efforts in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and made Mourvèdre a primary grape in the red Beaucastel wines. Chateau Boislauzon is one of the only CdP’s that are 100% Mourvedre. Château de Beaucastel was also instrumental in bringing Mourvedre to Paso Robles (along with other Rhone varietals).

Mourvèdre is a late-ripening varietal that flourishes with hot summer temperatures. In the vineyard, Mourvèdre is a moderately vigorous varietal that does not require a great deal of extra care. The vines tend to grow vertically, making Mourvèdre an ideal candidate for head-pruning (the method traditional to Châteauneuf-du-Pape), although vines can also be successfully trellised. When head-pruned, the weight of the ripening grapes pulls the vines down like the spokes of an umbrella, providing the ripening bunches with ideal sun exposure.

Wines made from Mourvèdre are intensely colored, rich and velvety with aromas of leather, game, and truffles. They tend to be high in alcohol and tannin when young, and are well-suited to aging. The animal, game-like flavors present in young Mourvèdres can be so strong that they are occasionally mistaken for the bacteria Brettanomyces. In a well-made Mourvèdre, these flavors should resolve into aromas of forest floor and leather with aging.

Chateau Pibarnon 2011 Rose, a blend of 65% Mourvèdre, 35% Cinsault. The production is mostly direct press (80%), with the remainder (20%) made by the saignée (“to bleed”) method.

Altos De La Hoya 2008, Monastrell, Jumilla, Sp Good power with surprising elegance and structure; Aroma – bright red fruit   Taste – fruit, black tea, soft tannins; Steven Tanzler 91

L’Aventure Estate Côte à Côte 2006

 40% Mourvèdre estate, 30% Grenache estate, 30% Syrah estate. 700 cases produced. Deep ruby and garnet circles describe the color, while explosive red fruit aromas and spice dominate the nose. Hints of ripe blueberries and black cherries, along with acacia and graphite add complexity to this polished wine. Full bodied with a very long finish. Cellar for 10 -12 years.   Parker 96 “Another superstar in the L’Aventure portfolio, it possesses an inky/purple color along with a sumptuous, sweet bouquet of roasted meats, blackberry liqueur, creme de cassis, licorice, and chocolate. Dense and full-bodied with fabulous intensity, opulence, and flesh, but no hard edges, it will provide immense pleasure over the next decade”.

Tablas Creek, 2005

This wine is composed of Mourvedre 90%, Syrah 10%, from Paso Robles, CA. A powerful nose with barnyard and truffles; smooth in the mouth, with plums, black fruit, leather and long length. Tablas Creek says: “a classic nose of roasted meats, plums and spice. Juicy and full in the mouth, it features lingering notes of plum, currant, coffee, chocolate and leather, with a long mineral finish”. Peak maturity now and over the next 3 years Steven Tanzler 91


Château de Pibarnon, 2005

About 95%  mourvèdre, the rest Grenache. Mourvedre ripens late and performs best in the warm Mediterranean climate of Bandol. At Pibarnon, to ensure perfect maturity, the grapes are often picked 10 days later than is customary in Bandol. The upshot is a wine that compares favorably with great names from the more prestigious vineyards in France. When young, Pibarnon Rouge displays a massive floral bouquet with black cherries and spices. The firm acidity of the Mourvèdre gives good definition and a solid foundation for long term development. With time the wine mellows, exhibiting a harmonious elegance and wonderful heady flavors of truffles, wet leaves and cinnamon. Wine Spectator 95

Chateau Boislauzon, 2006

The wine, the 2006 Chateauneuf du Pape Le Tintot, shows meaty bacon fat notes intermixed with blueberry, truffle, and fresh mushrooms. Dense, tannic, and long, it should age effortlessly for 20 or so years given the fact it is all Mourvedre. I am not so sure producing a 100% Mourvedre wine in Chateauneuf du Pape is going to be well-accepted in the marketplace, but it is a small cuvee and certainly impressively done. Robert Parker  92 -94 points.