Description 1 of 2

Common synonyms: Monastrell, Motaro, Alcayata (Spain), Damas Noir, Negria, Esparte, Trinchiera

Parentage of the grape: native of Spain
 
History of the grape: Monastrell is a native of Spain, first grown in Murviedro near Valencia, and was eventually brought to Provence, France some time during the Middle Ages and spread into the Rhone where it became the dominant varietal. But the late 19th century Phylloxera epidemic was very unkind to the grape and hybrid graftings that otherwise salvaged many grape varieties proved resistant to much of the Mourvedre. The ones that survived lived in the sandy soil of the Bandol and Mediterranean coast. For this reason, most of the Rhone was replanted with other graft-friendly varietals such as Syrah and Grenache. It wasn’t until after World War II that stronger rootstocks were developed and Jacques Perrin of Chateau Beaucastel began blending the grape into Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Since then, plantings throughout the Rhone and other parts of France increased once again. It came to Australia (as Mataro) in the first wave of European plantings in the 1880s in Barossa and also made it California around this time in Contra Costa. Today it has become a popular varietal in many wines throughout the world on its own and in blends, particularly in Lebanon in elegant Bekaa Valley blends. 
 
Characteristics of the grape: full-bodied, dark, inky, silky, velvety, blackberry, dark plum, chocolate, espresso, gamey, dark olive, truffles, licorice.
 
Regions where the grape currently is important: France: Rhone, Bandol; Spain: Jumilla, Yecla, Alicante.; Portugal, California, Lebanon, Australia.
 
Type or types of wines the grape produces: medium to full bodied dry red as either a single varietal release or as a blend, especially in the Rhone trifecta with Syrah and Grenache (known as GSM), which has also become popular in Australia. Rosé, sweet, late harvest dessert wine and sweet wine from air-dried grapes (Vin de Paille de Sacrerouge). 
 
– Description from Amanda Schuster

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Description 2 of 2

Mourvèdre (aka. Mataro)

Mourvedre is a hot-climate variety that buds and ripens late, making it desirable in areas prone to late spring frosts. Very thick-skinned and resistant to fungal diseases and rot, Mourvedre has been planted in Californian and Australian vineyards, under the name of Mataro. In the Golden State, most old plantings exist in Contra Costa County. Its more modest yields may have caused the grape to drop in popularity over the years while other Mediterranean varieties, like Carignane, were favored because they supplied greater tonnage.

Mourvedre’s better qualities shape the meaty wines it produces, with considerable tannin, deep color, jammy blackberry characteristics, and frequently a herbal, almost sage-like characteristic that the French refer to as “animale”. However, recognition of Mourvedre's merits has been slower to emerge in the New World. Even so, devout Rhône specialists, like Cline, Bonny Doon (Old Telegram), Qupe and Rosenblum, are leading the now trendy Rhône varietal craze.

In southern France, the importance of Mourvedre is becoming better understood and acreage is rising. Widely believed to have originated in Spain’s Levante regions, the grape has had four centuries of more common use in France’s Mediterranean vineyards. All along this coast, its appealing traits have made it an important bulking-up grape for blending purposes, in wines dominated by the more translucent Grenache.

You're a brawny red brute. They know you as Mourvedre in the vinous wrestling rings of southern France. In that circus of appellations you step into the ring with an ensemble known as the All-A.O.C Bunch, although next to you, most of this competition is rather feeble. To be sure, you deliver colorful performances, with a rough and rustic edge, leading the thirsty crowds to chant <i>"Animale, Animale, Animale"</i>. For the American circuit a more macho name was required. Over here you became the Mighty Mataro! Initially popular in the crushing rings of Southern Cal's Cucamonga, your popularity eventually waned. It's a good thing that you're thick-skinned. You rolled with the punches and are now making a comeback in the Bay Area, thanks to a group of promoters known as the <i>'Rhone Rangers'</i>. – Description from Appellation America (view original content)

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