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Mourvedre is another one of those grape varietals that comes in many guises - in Spain it is known as Monastrell, and you often find it listed as Mataro in wines produced in New World regions of California and Australia. It is most typically used as a blending grape, adding its unique characteristics to wines made up of Grenache and Syrah.
Although grown in many of the world’s leading wine producing countries, this grape’s true home is in the French region of Bandol, where it continues to be the star of several blended wines of superb quality. Mourvedre is prized for its ability to lend a depth of flavor to otherwise astringent wines, and brings a gamey, herbal set of tasting notes to the table which add plenty of complexity. It is used to great effect in the excellent red blends of the southern Rhone Valley, as well as those in Languedoc-Roussillon. Mourvedre is very much a warm climate varietal, hence its prevalence in southern France and Spain, and under plenty of sunshine it picks up its powerful set of flavors and aromas. In Spanish Mourvedre wines, we get to see a bit of the versatility of this grape - it is used to make everything from sweet to dry red wines, as well as rose and fortified wines.
Ever since the Phoenicians and Romans brought their knowledge of vine cultivation to Spanish soils, the country's culture has grown alongside wine production, with wine being a vital part of Spanish identity and Spanish traditions. Each region of Spain has a wine quite distinct from the others, and it is produced by smallholders and families as much as it is by large companies and established wineries. From the relatively mild and lush regions of La Rioja to the arid plateaus that surround Madrid, grapes are grown in abundance for the now booming Spanish wine industry, and new laws and regulations have recently been put in place to keep the country's standards high. By combining traditional practices with modern technology, Spanish wineries are continuing to produce distinctive wines of great character, flavor and aroma, with the focus shifting in recent decades to quality over quantity.