Lead Photo Credit: William Chris Vineyards
Mourvèdre is a red wine grape grown in many well known wine regions, including the Rhone Valley and Provence in France, Valencia and Jumilla regions of Spain where it is known as Monastrell. In the new world, Mourvèdre is grown in California and Washington State, as well as Australia (where is called Mataro) and even in South Africa.
Something that is just now becoming apparent is the Mourvèdre is being grown in rapidly increasing quantity and acknowledged for its wine quality in the State of Texas, as these results from recent International wine competitions show:
Pedernales Cellars 2019 Mourvèdre – Gold Medal 2022 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
Adega Vinho 2021 Estate Rosé of Mourvèdre – Bilger Family Vineyards, Texas Hill Country – 2022 Texsom Awards, Judges selection
Sandy Roads Vineyards 2019 Mourvèdre, Single Vineyard, Texas High Plains – 2022 Texsom Awards, Platinum award
Becker Vineyards 2018 GSM, Texas – 2022 Rodeo Houston International Wine Competition – Double Gold
The origin of Mourvèdre is somewhat cloudy with the Spanish taking credit for it and some in France, too. Most likely, Mourvèdre was introduced to the region around Valencia to Barcelona by the seafaring Phoenicians around 500 BC before either country was formalized in the modern sense.
Mourvèdre can produce wines in a tannic style and with high alcohol as produced in its acknowledged modern home region of Bandol in southern France where is was revived after World War II by very dedicated vignerons. However, fact of the matter is that the wines produced from Mourvèdre vary greatly according to where it is produced, sometimes even vineyards in the same area, as it responds to its local terroir. Other descriptors for Mourvèdre wines, especially in some new world climes includes earthy and/or meaty nuances and soft red fruit Pinotesque flavors.
In Texas, Mourvèdre is a rapidly rising star with plantings in both the centrally located Texas Hill Country AVA and in the more northern Texas High Plains. In both regions, Mourvèdre is ranked just behind Tempranillo in terms of acres planted and production, a position gained in far fewer years that it took Tempranillo to gain its favor in Texas.
Interestingly, in the 2020 tally of Texas Hill Country wine grapes published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Mourvèdre yielded more per acre than either Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo. The year of 2020 followed a drastic early winter freeze in October 2019 in the Texas High Plains. A likely result of its characteristic to harvest late in the season, Mourvèdre was out paced in yield per acre by both Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo.
Mourvèdre’s ascension in Texas is mostly because it thrives in warm and hot climates, its ability to utilize a full growing season with slow, sure ripening, and it’s chameleon-like ability to vary with vineyard conditions, making it both flexible and able to produce a wine range of interesting wines. In various Texas vineyard locations, per William Chris Vineyards, Mourvèdre in one case exhibited crisp red currant and cranberry and notes of dried flowers on the nose, while in another it brought out rhubarb, strawberry preserves with mocha and pepper. Yet still, grown in a third vineyard, the wine exhibited a melange of black and red fruits combined with hints of smoked meat and mint.
One of the most interesting aspects of Mourvèdre is its ability to produce a stellar single varietal wine, while also combining with Grenache and Syrah to form an excellent Rhone-styled GSM blend – but in Texas Mourvèdre usually takes the lead role in the blend whereas in other regions around the world this role goes to Grenache. Finally, Mourvèdre offers Texas wine drinkers even more flexibility by making excellent and some of the most sought-after and ageable rosé wines. When served with a chill, it makes living in the Texas heat quite tolerable.
If things continue as they have so far, and as Mourvedre vines age further in the vineyards across Texas, the future seems bright for this warm weather and hearty grape variety.