While the 2014 blend was primarily syrah, the mourvèdre was pretty evident to me, adding a depth of character beyond the predominate pepperiness of the Syrah: baked blueberries, a touch of camphor, and a meatiness I would sooner pair with bison over a beefsteak anyday. I had flashbacks to a pairing I did at the James Beard House many years ago using Matt Cline's "Small Berry Mourvèdre," a wine that's stuck in my memory for its intensity (yes, that's a recommendation, and it's still available on their website at last peek for $70, $56 for wine club members). One of the waiters––and a wine savvy one at that––said he'd never heard of Mourvèdre, and I assured him he'd had it many times, and just not known it's name. This grape appears in many of my favorite wines over the years, at least in some small part, if not in it's entirety (like the Small Berry):
- Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant (see previous post)
- Mas Amiel Cuveé Specialé 10 Ans d'Âgé, a delightful fortified dessert wine that the French pair with chocolate when the rest of the world isn't watching. so they can keep it for themselves
- Domaine Tempier Bandol, my traditional Thanksgiving pairing with giblet gravy and sausage stuffing
- Château Beaucastel Châteauneuf des Papes (and the Perrin Brothers' various American blends from Tablas Creek, and their more traditional Perrin Reserve Côtes du Rhône)
- Ridge Geyserville, where Paul Draper always referred to it by its other name, preferred by the immigrant farmers in California, Mataro)
So YES, you've had this grape, so don't be afraid of it. It's humble beginnings in California as a table wine wine/jug wine can be ignored, thanks to the likes of Rhone Rangers like Cline and Randall Graham, who returned it to it's pre-phylloxera glory (it proved difficult to graft to American rootstocks and remained a blending grape for many years). And while it's European offerings known as Mataro or Monastrell might remain a mystery here in the states, give them a try! Less expensive bottlings may be a little bitter or gamey for American tastes, but try them with food!