The names Mataró and Mourvèdre may come from the towns of Mataró in Cataluña and Murviedro near Valencia, suggesting an origin on that coast. Though the origin of the grape may be Catalonian or Spanish, the name Mourvèdre is of French descent. The grape was accepted in the 16th century, and extends eastwards towards the Rhone. It was hit hard by the Phylloxera outbreak, but has been rising in status lately.
Mourvèdre is an assortment of red wine grape developed around the world. In Portugal and North America it is known as Mataró, even in some parts of France it is known as Estrangle-Chien. In Spain it is known as Monastrell. It creates tannic wines that can be high in alcohol, and is mainly triumphant in Rhone-style blends. It has a particular similarity for Grenache; make it softer and giving it formation. Its taste differs greatly according to area, but often has a wild, gamey or earthy flavor, with soft red fruit flavors. Substantial confusion has resulted for internet reports that DNA fingerprinting had established that Monastrell was not the same grape as Mourvedre. This information was the result of the miss-reading of a UC Davis analysis that a particular sample they had, had been misidentified.
There are around 12 square kilometers in Australia, with the most noteworthy plantings in South Australia and in New South Wales. It is generally found in Rhone-style blends, especially the GSM mixture – Grenache, Shiraz, and Mourvèdre. It has also found its way into Australian port fortified wines. Mourvèdre is extensive across the Mediterranean coast of southern France, where it is a prominent constituent of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It was once the most popular grape in Provence, but is now much less common there. One exception is Bandol on the Mediterranean coast of Provence, where Mourvèdre has found a natural home, producing powerful red wines in the style of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is sometimes used to produce a prepared red wine in Languedoc-Roussillon. Until recently it was understood that Spain’s Monastrell grape was identical to Mourvèdre, so data on Mourvèdre as opposed to Monastrell is irregular. But it is likely that it is mostly on the Mediterranean coast in regions such as Jumilla. There are 8 square kilometers of Mourvèdre in California. The assortment was one of the first to be used in Southern California, the original wine center of the state. Some vineyards near Ontario, California, date back to the turn of the 19th/20th centuries, and one winery in the Cucamonga Valley, still creates a Mourvèdre-labeled offering. Also, grown on Red Mountain, in Washington State and bottled alone by Mark Ryan Vineyards latest release, Crazy Mary.
Lindsay Alston is a contributing editor for Classic Wines, specializing in Mourvèdre wines.
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