Mourvèdre (also known as Bandol) is a prominent component in the Grenache, Syrah Mourvèdre (GSM) blends. This grape variety tends to produce tannic wines that may have a high alcohol content. Depending on where it is grown, Mourvèdre may have gamey or meaty flavours and/or earthy notes with intense red fruit flavours and blackberry notes to them. A young wine can be conceived as faulted due to the farmyard and strong herbal flavours. As the wine matures, earthier notes may develop before it becomes more leather and gingerbread aromas.
This is a difficult grape to grow as they like hot sun but also good irrigation to produce intensely flavoured fruit. The vine has a low leave-to-fruit ratio and is susceptible to a variety of viticulture hazards like downy and powdery mildew.
Mourvèdre is most likely to be of Spanish origin, but the exact origin is very difficult to pinpoint. The grape became known in Spain as Monastrell which may have been a neutral name chosen as it was known as Murviedro near Valencia, while near Barcelona it was known as Mataró.
The grape tends to bud and ripen very late and can recover well from frost due to the late budding. Mourvèdre needs warm sun and ample water to thrive. The grape cluster is compact which lends itself to mildew susceptibility.
The berry is thick skinned and high in colour and tannins. Even though it ripens late, the fruit tends to ripen to high levels of brix sugar and that translates into high alcohol levels during fermentation. Mourvèdre is a popular grape to use in Rose wines.
Mourvèdre is a full-bodied and rustic wine with blackberry and plum notes. You will also find notes of smoke, black pepper and violets. The wine usually has a medium to long oak aging with high tannins and a medium plus acidity. The wine can have a gamey taste in certain areas, this can be due to the variety’s inclination to become contaminated with “brettanomyces” (also known as Dekkera or just Brett, a naturally-occurring yeast that can impart a distinct sensory character to wine)
The unblended Mourvèdre tends to be deep-coloured and tannic but moderate in alcohol and acid. When young the wine tend to have an “earthy to spicy” aroma.
Mourvèdre is a full-bodied wine and begs for rich foods to absorb the tannins. Look for meats like lamb, rabbit, veal, beef short ribs and barbeque. Vegetarians can look at wild rice, lentils and shitake or Portobello mushrooms to create a dish for a full bodied wine.