The Mourvèdre grape is widely used as one of the blending grapes in Southern Rhone wines such as Côtes du Rhone and Châteauneuf du Pape; wines we enjoy. To get a sense of Mourvèdre at center stage however, we need to look beyond the Rhone. Bandol is a town in Provence and its red wines must be at least 50% Mourvèdre, so if you are looking for Mourvèdre from France, look for Bandol. We collected several Bandols from France and several Mourvèdres from the U.S., now let’s get to know them.
Mourvèdre is a late ripening grape, so it does best in a warm climate (like Provence). Wines made from Mourvèdre are known as earthy or even gamy. I knew they would likely go best with fall or winter type meals. Since the winter had gotten away from us, I thought we could squeeze in one more series of bigger red wines before spring was on us in earnest. Little did I know we were headed into the coolest spring on record in Minnesota. We had plenty of time before the warm weather arrived!
To keep the number of variables under control, we generally only have two wines open at a time. We decided to start with the classic Domaine Tempier Bandol from France and the Wind Gap Mourvèdre from Sonoma. I have been intrigued by Mourvèdre ever since I read Kermit Lynch’s classic book “Adventures on the Wine Route: A Wine Buyer’s Tour of France“. One of the families Kermit describes is Lucien and Lucie Peyraud. The Peyraud family winery is Domaine Tempier and their wines are some of the most famous from Bandol.
You can immediately see the two wines are quite different in color.
Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge 2010 ($40)
Loved it right away.
Eye: Medium dark red. Transparent edges going to opaque center. Not cloudy.
Nose: Pot Roast, it really is! Dark red fruit, smoky, musty in a good way – fascinating aroma.
Mouth: Nice smooth flavor with some herbs. Definite tannins, but not overwhelming. It has that flavor & aroma that seem uniquely French. Lovely.
Day 2: Pretty rich and ripe. The pot roast aroma disappears after day 1. Still a very nice, enjoyable wine. Would definitely buy it again.
Wind Gap Old-Vine Mourvèdre 2011 ($35)
From the Bedrock vineyard in Sonoma County
A very nice wine, very different from Domaine Tempier.
Eye: Bright red, translucent. Almost Pinot Noir-like in color.
Nose: Red fruit, bright and fresh.
Mouth: Structure comes from acidity more than tannins. Almost more like Pinot Noir or Grenache than anything else. Still, a nice enjoyable wine.
A bit underpowered for steak, but perfect with coq au vin.
Still lively and nice on days 2, 3, 4. Bright red fruits and lively.
Fire Up the Grill, Spring is Coming (we thought!)
Not really knowing what to expect from the wines beyond our familiarity with Rhone reds, we opted for an easy meal on the grill: steak, grilled potatoes and roasted vegetables.
Both wines were very nice with the meal. The Domaine Tempier was a closer match for the steak given its’ darker fruit character. The Wind Gap was a very nice food wine, but with its’ bright red fruit character, it seemed better matched to lighter fare. Not shown here, we had these wines with some leftover coq-au-vin on day 2. With the chicken, even in a rich sauce, the Wind Gap was the better choice.
Saturday lunch is often some kind of pizza or flatbread; we have found we can hardly go wrong with any food-friendly wine with these types of meals.
Stay tuned, we’ve just begun our Mourvèdre exploration!