Santa brought me a surprise: a case of wine from the Central Coast, Paso Robles, California. The mystery case focuses on a much neglected grape: Mourvèdre. Thus, each week, check here for a new dive into Mourvèdre.
Now Mourvèdre likely originated in Spain, near Valencia, in a town suspiciously called Murviedro. It wiggled its way across the Mediterranean Coast to Provence. Here it dominated until phylloxera sapped it, root stock grafting failed, and the famed Syrahs and Grenaches supplanted it in our glasses.
Mourvèdre survived where phylloxera could not: hot, sandy fringes like Bandol and high desert plateaus of Spain. Today, Washington, Australia, and California toy with it in their hotter climates. The grape tends to make muscular wine with tannins, high alcohol, red fruits, and savory, earthy, and gamey notes: a perfect match for Paso Robles California.
Today, we start with a single, estate vineyard owned by the Croad family: New Zealander’s known for their fabulous mission style winery atop Paso’s West side.
Croad Vineyards, Mourvedre, Silver Fern Series, Paso Robles Willow Creek CA 2011 $46
To stand up to the grape, Croad throws all new oak at it, half French and half Hungarian
Croad’s Mourvèdre looks clear, with a garnet core and a medium clear frame, draped with red-tinted tears. AROMAS and FLAVORS glow and pop with dried raspberries, red apple, orange peel, sage, clove, and tobacco. The PALATE feels lean, dry, twitching with medium acidity, wood dust tannins, a medium body, and a medium 14% alcohol.
The wine is very good (4 of 5) but needy. Do not expect rich, powerful, classic Mourvèdre.
Find food to make this work. Grilled herbed salmon, ashy goat cheese, truffled pasta, stuffed mushroom caps. Think things savory things for structured, earthy Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo.
Until next week’s Mourvèdre, see you then.