Obscure Wine Grapes: Mourvedre

Mourvedre is a highly tannic red wine grape that is often blended with easy-drinking fruity Grenache. Two of my favorite French wines, Chateauneuf de Pape and Bandol, are made with blends that include this sturdy red wine grape. Mourvedre (pronounced something like moo-VAHD) is the French name for a grape called Mataro in Italy and Monastreli in Spain. The ancient grape was introduced to the Catalan by the Phoenicians long before the year zero. The grape was planted in Southern California under the name Mataro more than a hundred years ago.

Rhône varietals are on the rise in Texas vineyards. The hot-weather grapes are proving to be much better suited to the Texas climate than Northern grapes like Chardonnay and Pinot noir. Texas Viogniers are already blowing away more expensive Viognier wines from around the world in blind tastings. Although it is a white wine grape, a little Viognier is traditionally added to the classic red wine blend known as Côtes du Rhône.

Llano Estacado's Texas Signature Melange Mediterranean Blend contains the same five grapes found in nearly every Côtes du Rhône -- Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah, Carignane and Viognier. It was a little raspy when I first opened it, but after half an hour it was drinking beautifully. The award-winning Texas Rhône wine sells for less than $10 a bottle at Spec's and HEB.

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