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L'école des vins
An original grape variety with a bright future…
A grape of mysterious origins, long regarded as a secondary variety, Mourvèdre is now widely cultivated in the southern Rhone Valley on sun-drenched south-facing slopes. Robust, of unequalled warmth and generosity, it yields wines that are powerful, full-bodied, strong in tannins, yet very stylish. Undoubtedly, it still has some surprises up its sleeve… and since 2002 has had its own fan club, the “Conservatoire du cépage Mourvèdre”.
Though often underestimated, Mourvèdre has a strong personality, yielding wines that are deeply coloured, full-bodied and well-structured. Its tannins, tight in texture and long-lasting, are ideal for making red wine. Young Mourvèdre wines are rich in notes of pear and black berry fruits (blackcurrant, blackberry), with hints of the garrigue and of bay laurel. As they age (around five years old), they develop a more rounded personality with more complex flavours. It is then possible to detect hints of truffle, leather, jammy fruit flavours (plum, blackberry and blueberry), as well as attractive scents of wild game and spices. When used for making rosé wines, the Mourvèdre grape prolongs their freshness and enhances flavour.
The history of Mourvèdre is shrouded in mystery (there are vague references to it going back four centuries), but it would seem to have come to us from Spain. It is thought to have links with the Mataro grape, which is widely grown there, especially in Catalonia. Its French name may derive from the village of Murviedro, located in the province of Valance. The only thing we know for certain is that it was always grown in the south/south-east of France, and it was far more widely cultivated before the phylloxera crisis. To see it growing in the Rhone vineyards, you would do well to go to the Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Beaumes de Venise areas…
Mourvèdre has an upright growing habit and the grapes are thick-skinned. The clusters are compact, medium to large in size, conical in shape, narrow and often winged. The individual berries are of medium size, spherical, bluish black and thick-skinned. The luscious flesh is juicy with a pungent flavour. An unusual feature of this variety is that the buds break very late and the grapes take time to ripen. They need a great deal of warmth and sunlight over a long period. The vine is vigorous, adapting well to poor soils, and tolerates the strong southern winds. It can yield heavily, and requires carefully controlled pruning.
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