Mourvèdre (Monastrell or Mataro) - is a red wine grape varietal used to make both strong, dark red wines and rosés. It is an international varietal grown in many wine regions around the world. Mourvèdre can produce tannic wines that can be high in alcohol, and is very successful in Rhone-style blends. It has a special partnership for Grenache, softening it and giving it structure.
Its taste varies greatly according to region, but often has a wild, gamey or earthy flavour, with soft red fruit flavours, deep in colour, jammy blackberry characteristics, and frequently a herbal, almost sage-like characteristic. The variety was probably introduced to Catalonia by the Phoenicians in around 500BC.
The name Mourvèdre comes from Murviedro (Morvedre in Catalan) near Valencia and the name Mataro comes from Mataro, Cataluna. It arrived in France sometime after the 16th century, and spread eastwards towards the Rhône where it is a notable component of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
It was once the most popular grape in Provence, but is now much less planted. One exception is Bandol on the Mediterranean coast of Provence, where Mourvèdre produces powerful red wines in the style of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is sometimes used to produce a fortified red wine in Languedoc-Roussillon.
Mourvèdre is a slow-ripening varietal that develops tight bunches of grapes that need good ventilation to avoid rot. It seems to do best in windy climates like Southern France, in parts of Spain (i.e. coastal regions such as Almansa, Valencia, Alicante and Jumilla) and Algeria, and in Australia and Portugal, where it is known as Mataro. It craves heat and survives in locations too windy for other varieties, but can be drought-sensitive.
There is approximately 12 square kilometres of Mourvèdre in Australia, with the most significant plantings in South Australia (e.g. Barossa, McLaren Vale) and New South Wales. It is usually found in Rhône-style G/S/M blends of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvèdre. It also has found its way into Australian fortified wines.