Monday, June 02, 2014

We Like to Mourvèdre,Mourvèdre, We Like To...Mourvèdre

Mourvèdre. Know it?

Depending on who you talk to, and how cool they are they might call it by its proper name, Mourvèdre, pronounced (moor-vay-dra) or they may just say it like moo-ved. That's if they're down with this oddly named Rhone variety. That's how the cool kids say it.

It's mostly known for its solo role in the great wines of Bandol in southern France, and it's a major player in the southern Rhone blends, that typically are dominated by Syrah but also include Grenache, along with our new friend Mourvèdre. As Washington has shown itself to produce some of the finest Syrahs not just in the New World, but the World World, we're seeing a rise here in other Rhone varieties. This awesome turn of events means that you can explore other varieties and there's now a fair bit of 100% varietal Mourvèdre being produced. 

It's a late ripening variety, very similar to Grenache and so Washington Mourvèdre will likely be coming out of the state's warmer growing areas. Kiona's Heart of the Hill Vineyard on Red Mountain has long been producing some great Mourvèdre that has been part of single vineyard bottlings done by Syncline, Dowsett Family and Portland brand Helioterra. Perhaps the most famous Mourvèdre in Washington was the Case of the Missing Mourvèdre from the Force Majeure vineyards. A whodunit that until this day (as far as I know) has yet to be solved.

In 2012 Washington State raised Mourvèdre from it's "other reds" status to mark that 800 tons of fruit were picked that vintage and given the success that the wines are showing that number will continue to rise. Old world versions of Mourvèdre don't tend to be super showy or fruit forward. Instead, think stony, gamy wines that have more nuanced aromatics and much of the same is happening here in Washington. Mourvèdre typically creates a "thinking woman or man's" wine, its often deeply hued, with herbal, meaty and earthen characteristics. For folks looking to be smashed in the face with jammy round fruit, you can find that in some of these wines but you're more likely to be met with something a bit more serious.

Washington winemakers have also been going to Mourvèdre to produce some of the state's best pink wines. Rosé of Mourvèdre are being made by Maison Bleue, Gilbert Cellars and Robert Ramsay to name a few. In any case the diversification of Washington's Rhone offerings offer us a variety of engaging wines to continue to explore.

2010 Flying Dreams Monastrell Columbia Valley Would Mourvèdre by any other name taste as complex? Yes. The Spanish name for Mourvèdre is in fact Monastrell, and it's most notably produced in the Jumilla region. Those wines were the inspiration for this bottling from Woodinville's Flying Dreams. This is a serious wine from a cool vintage. Aromatics of crushed granite, leather and iron followed by a palate of late season blackberries, a refined structure and incredible ever-lasting finish. $36

2011 Darby Mourvèdre Columbia Valley A bit more voluptuous in terms of aromatics with deep aromas of rich, ripe plum, fennel and iron. A palate loaded with black fruits; currant, plum and black berries along with spice and black licorice. Great balance and a bit more ripe and showy than the Flying Dreams. $?

2012 Ardor Cellars Mourvèdre Lonesome Spring Ranch Vineyard A Mourvèdre of an all together different color this offering from Ardor Cellars is lighter hued and bodied. It gives you a sense of the Old World with a bit more angularity (juxtaposed to round) and ample acid, oh and a much lower alcohol percentage than the other two at only 13.5%. The palate of the wine is bright raspberries, blue fruits and a kiss of fresh mint. $40


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