Don’t look now, but here at Two Terrier Vineyards, we may be leading a trend. (If so, it’s going to be the first time we’ve been ahead of the curve.) Seems the San Francisco Chronicle is declaring this The Year Mourvedre Breaks Through. (Okay, the San Francisco Chronicle stopped producing anything close to real news decades ago, but they’re always one of the go-to sources for the latest in the wine world.) A Mourvedre Breakthrough? We’re ready with enough planted to give us more than a ton of Mourvedre grapes. And that’s in a year when we’re dropping 50% of the fruit just to give our young vines a chance to bulk up.
You might not know Mourvedre by name, but if you’ve ever enjoyed a great Rhone wine, such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, or a blend such as one from Bonnie Doon or Tablas Creek, you’ve had it as a Rhone style blend. Some vineyards, such as one of my favorites, Unti, are serving up Mourvedre as a single varietal. In taste, think of the heartiness of a Zinfandel with more depth and complexity, less “slap you in the face” fruitiness. The Chronicle talks about “brighter berry notes at times, darker hues at others. Trademark leathery, animal nuances.” As our Spokes Terriers will tell you, we love those “animal nuances” in our wines around here. Mourvedre also has a special affinity for Grenache and that’s one of the classic blends we’ll be going for. Around here, we refer to it as a Châteauneuf-du-Pup.
Find out more about Mourvedre here from the vintners at Tablas Creek. Incedentally, we got our grape cuttings and rootstock from Tablas Creek, which in turn got theirs from the famous Chateau de Beaucastel, one of the premier Rhone producers. Guess that makes us second cousins once removed!
So put down that tired glass of Merlot and try something different and, I think, more sophisticated.
My American Mourvedre favorites, which you should be able to find easily in a well-stocked grocery store or wine shop are:
Cline Cellars Ancient Vines Mourvedre (single varietal)
Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel (a Rhone style blend)
Bonnie Doon‘s Le Cigare Volant (another Rhone style blend)
That will have to hold you until Two Terrier Vineyards gets up to speed producing our Mourvedre single varietals and blends. And don’t even get me started on Mourvedre Rose. That’s a whole other taste treat.