Mourvèdre / Monastrell / Mataro wine grape

Mourvèdre / Monastrell / Mataro
Mourvèdre originated in eastern Spain around the town of Segunto just north of Valencia, so it really ought to be known by its Spanish name, Monastrell.  It is the fourth most planted black grape in Spain, with more than six times the vineyard area that it has in France.  The name Monastrell derives from Monasteriellu (“little monastery”) suggesting that it was first cultivated by monks.
 
Segunto lies on the Morvedre plain and was itself known, in Catalan, as Morvedre until 1868.  It was an important wine port, and through it the grape reached France, accounting for its French name.  Except in Roussillon, that is, where it’s called Mataro after another port town just north of Barcelona.  Mataro is also its name in Australia, California and South Africa, though it is increasingly billed as Mourvèdre on labels, especially when intended for export.
 
It loves heat, especially towards the end of its ripening period.  However, it ripens very late so it’s really only suited to warmer Mediterranean-style climates.  In Spain and France it’s only found within 80 km of the Mediterranean coast and no further north than the southern Rhône, where it is the third grape of Châteauneuf-du-Pape after Grenache and Syrah.  ‘GSM’ blends inspired by Châteauneuf are common in the new world.
 
In France its heartland lies southeast of the Rhône in Provence, especially in Bandol where it is the dominant variety, comprising 50% to 95% of the blend.  Bandol is probably the best expression of the grape, but it usually needs a decade to soften which perhaps explains why most Mourvèdre is blended.  High in tannin and alcohol, its blackberry-scented wines often have gamey and leathery notes.

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