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Carl Hudson
July 5, 2023 | Carl Hudson

Mourvèdre or Monastrell

Another TWC Texas Tasting Series event featuring Texas and Spanish wines will include the grape variety Monastrell, or as it is more commonly known by its French name, Mourvèdre. This event is scheduled for Sunday, 23-July, with sessions at 12:30 and 2:30 pm. Attendees will taste, compare, and contrast traditionally Spanish grape varieties grown and wines produced in Texas versus key regions in Spain.

Many grape growing regions in Texas have similar climates and soil compositions to those of grape growing areas in Spain, and the same grape varieties can thrive in both places. Mourvèdre is known in Spain as Mataro or Monastrell and is commonly grown in the hot, arid eastern regions influenced by the Mediterranean Sea – Catalonia, Valencia, Jumilla, Yecla, and others. It makes big red wines in Spain, Australia, South Africa, and Texas. The variety is also commonly used to produce bright, flavorful rosé wines for summer enjoyment and to accompany the bounty of seafood harvested from the Mediterranean Sea.

The grape probably originated in the Catalonia area of Spain outside Barcelona, near a village named Murviedro. So, it is easy to see how the French named the grape Mourvèdre.

Mourvèdre typically produces dark, rich wines with red-black color and black and red fruit aromas and flavors, including chocolate covered cherries, black plums, blueberries, and mulberries. A lot of flavor comparisons can be found in Malbec, Shiraz (Syrah), and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. The wines also tend to be tannic and relatively high in alcohol. Wine critics often comment on wild game and earthy notes found in Mourvèdre. The best of these wines can be classified as “big boys,” both in Spain and Texas. Oak aging is relatively common and leads to herbal and meaty aromas that only add to the wine’s “bigness.”

The grape variety likes warm, dry climates and has small, thick-skinned berries – the textbook combination for making wines with intense color and high tannin levels. It has the propensity to produce relatively high levels of mouth-drying tannins that have earned Mourvèdre a nickname in French - Étrangle-Chien (the dog strangler).

The variety presents growers with some challenges. Mourvèdre likes plenty of hot sun, which we can certainly provide in Texas, but it also needs lots of water to fully develop ripe fruit. Providing adequate irrigation can lead to overly vigorous foliage production that creates excess shade for the grapes, thus limiting sun exposure. Excess canopy growth forces the grower to hedge the vines more frequently. Mourvèdre is susceptible to powdery and downy mildew, common vine diseases in Texas, and that requires frequent treatment with fungicides.

Most Monastrell in Spain is grown in the hot, arid central and southeastern regions that border on the Mediterranean. Similarly, Mourvèdre grows well in hot, arid regions of Texas, not only on the High Plains, but also in the Texas Hill Country, central West Texas, and the western Permian Basin, producing a wide range of wines, including bold reds, lighter picnic-style reds, rosés, and light sparkling pet-nats.

Mourvèdre's meaty, herbal aromas are very distinctive, as are its strong tannins. Wine producers around the world have taken advantage of these qualities in Mourvèdre to produce rich, deeply flavored blends, especially with other Rhône-style grapes like elegant red-fruit Grenache and structured black fruit Syrah. These blends are most often labeled as GSM’s and are common in Texas tasting rooms.

Texas Wine Collective has just released a GSM under the TWC label, an easy drinking version produced from Texas Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Grenache. When last checked, also available in the TWC tasting room were Mourvèdre varietal wines from Lost Oak Winery and Brennan Vineyards to give the taster a feel for what the grape can do on its own. In addition, a Mourvèdre rosé from Lost Oak Winery represents a lighter side of the variety.

Stop by Texas Wine Collective to taste and learn more about Texas Mourvèdre, or Monastrell.


Learn more from these references:

(1)  Mourvèdre, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/mourvèdre

(2)  Spanish-Origin Grape Varieties in Texas Climates, by Carl Hudson, Ph.D., CSW, posted on Texas Wine Lover Website 19-Feb-2021 (https://txwinelover.com/2021/02/spanish-origin-grape-varieties-in-texas-climates/)

(3)  7 Spanish Wines (Other Than Tempranillo) Worth Drinking Right Now, Wine Folly, 21-Apr-2016 (Updated 01-Feb-2021), (https://winefolly.com/grapes/tempranillo/), by Madeline Puckette, James Beard Award-winning author & Wine Communicator of the Year, co-founder of Wine Folly

(4) Mourvèdre (Monastrell) Wine, www.wine-searcher.com/grape-298-mourvèdre-monastrell, updated 11-Jan-2023

(5) Spanish Grapes other than Tempranillo, a Carl’s Corner blog post by Carl Hudson, Ph.D., CSW, posted on www.texaswinecollective.com, Jun-2023

(6) Mourvèdre, www.tablascreek.com/story/vineyard_and_winemaking/grapes/mourvèdre


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