Many of us have heard of Mourvèdre, the deeply bold, smoky red wine found in abundance in Central Spain (where it’s known as Montrasell) and Southern France. This grape is part of the famous Rhone GSM blend, which includes Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre.
Today, we’re going to explore this grape, which has at least two names. A big thank you to Wine Folly and MasterClass for their help with this article.
The Origins of the Grape
According to MasterClass, the Monastrell grape is believed to have originated in Spain, where it has grown for thousands of years. The grape arrived in Provence, France, in the Middle Ages, where it became known as Mourvèdre (after the Spanish town of Murviedro). Mourvèdre dominated Provence until the 1860s, when phylloxera plagued wine grapes throughout Europe.
In France, Mourvèdre was largely replaced by other varieties that could be grafted onto phylloxera-free rootstock. Mourvèdre-compatible rootstocks weren’t discovered until after World War II, and in the 1970s a movement to replant the grape emerged in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Around the time of phylloxera in France, the grape was brought from France to California and Australia, where it became known as Mataro, after a town in the province of Barcelona.
About Mourvèdre and Monastrell
The grapes are small with black skin, producing a dark purple wine. They bud and ripen late, so a warmer climate is essential to their success. Mourvèdre and Monastrell are sought-after blending partners for their ability to add body to lighter varieties.
The flavor of a red wine made with the Mourvèdre and Monastrell grape depends on where it was grown: Mourvèdre from southern France is known for its blackberry flavor. The California version is likely have red fruit notes.
Mourvèdre is high in alcohol and tannins, with a somewhat meaty, gamey, rustic flavor when young – think bold and smoky. Aging can mellow the tannins, and some say Spanish Monastrell is less tannic.
The wines are dry and full-bodied with medium acidity.
Wine Folly says, “If you love Cabernet Sauvignon, then Mourvèdre is your bag.”
The grape is grown in four countries:
- Spain (~150,000+ acres)
- France (~25,000 acres)
- Australia (~2500 acres)
- United States (~1000+ acres)
Flavor Notes and Pairings
Mourvèdre and Monastrell are meaty and full-bodied wines. On the fruit side, you’re likely to taste blueberry, blackberry and plum. On the non-fruit side, you’re likely to pick up black pepper notes, violet, thyme, rose, smoke, gravel and red meat. Wow!
Mourvèdre’s meatiness makes it the perfect wine with smoked meats and barbecue. The combo makes the wine’s peppery and gamy flavors vanish, revealing layers of black fruits and chocolate.As a vegetarian, I like the wine with big cheeses.
WineShop At Home’s Monastrell
WineShop At Home has a relatively newly released Spanish Monastrell under our Adagio label. Unlike most wines made by this grape, our wine was not influenced by oak, revealing the true aromas of the varietal and its terroir. It has ample tannins in the attack and finish. Our Monastrell displays dark and red fruits like raspberry, blackberry and strawberry, followed by tobacco and licorice characters.
When I tasted it, I got blackberry, tobacco and licorice notes. It was delicious. If you get to try some, please let me know what you think.