Mourvèdre, The Dark Side...
As you may already be aware, I am a lover of the tragically hip and terribly misunderstood monster that is Mourvèdre . It is challenging to grow and even harder to make well. Careful management and reduced crop load (as we mentioned in the previous article) keep the vines operating at their highest potential, delivering concentration and intensity of flavor. This focus brings out the character of the varietal, expressing the terrior of the region to its fullest degree. After all it is a winemakers dream to be working with the ultimate combination of the best terrior for a particular grape and the best varietal for a particular terrior. That combination is Mourvèdre and Paso Robles.
Cue the film strip! History lesson time... (BEEEP)
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... in a region now called Spain, the grape was probably introduced by the Phoenicians around 500 BC. As it began to propagate across the different regions of Valencia and Jumilla it was known as Mataro or Monestrell. As the varietal migrated west into what is now France it was known as Mourvèdre (derived from Morvedre in Catalan) and was widely planted in the Rhone Valley and Cotes de Provence. Some of the most noteworthy wines coming from the region are the complex blends of Chateauneuf du Pape and the premier Mourvèdre region in France of Bandol. In the new world wine regions, Mourvèdre has excelled in Australia, California, and Washington State. California is especially noteworthy due to the Rhone Rangers who have led the way making world-class wines with Mourvèdre but mostly as a component for “GSM” (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre ) blends.
The “GSM” has become quite a trend in the US with almost a cult-like fervor. “The Peasant”, my version of the “GSM”, however, most of the time it’s been an “MGS”, because I think Mourvèdre is a darker, more interesting base to work from. A few times back in the day, I made an “MSG” before but it was due to a lack of “G” (Grenache) and gave me a headache. “SGM” and “SMG” are outright slutty wines and let's face it usually leads to “AA”, the “POLICE” or worst of all the “DUI”. All GSM jokes aside, Mourvèdre blends are one expression of the grape and we have done them well. In your Pack, you will find the latest release of the Peasant. It is back to being a full-blown “GSM” because our Grenache vineyards are on their game. This has given me the opportunity to venture off into the EMO realms of darkness with straight, undiluted Mourvèdre alone...
To fully immerse yourself in this experience, I recommend you get out your black clothes from the 90s, put on some eyeliner, and feel the gothic version of yourself. Put on the Agony & Ecstasy play list (Loud) and set the mood for your journey across the landscape of the dark and brooding. First, begin by saying it. It's pronounced mohr- VED-dra, or more-VEH-drha.
Next, experience “the first Brood”, France! (in vampire lingo this means the “origin” of it all) I recommend you try a french Mourvèdre. Provence is good but Bandol is the standard you should judge all other Mourvèdre based wines against. In Bandol a wine has to be at least 50% Mourvèdre but the best are almost 100%. I recommend Domaine Tempier if you can find it. Once inside you will understand my quest. You will ask the question. “Why is the Bandol region so good at producing Mourvèdre ? Answer... Terrior.... Bandol is situated on the warm coast of the Mediterranean with sandy limestone & calcareous soils. Temperatures run hot by day and cool off at night because of the proximity to the ocean. Does this sound familiar? Yes! Paso has almost the same conditions except for better surf. (If it wasn’t for Paso and its proximity to good surf, I would probably move to Bandol.)
The last part of this journey is to try “The Agony & The Ecstasy” and see how well we stand up to Bandol... Now check yourself. You are all “goth'd out” dressed in black, you’re listening to Nine Inch Nails and drinking amazing Mourvèdre . I know you wanted to be a Jedi, but how does it feel to be a Sith Lord? Welcome to the dark side...
Christian Tietje Winemaker