Mourvédre Mode

Maybe it’s because I recently moved from Washington where this grape is thriving but much to my delight, I’ve noticed more and more Mourvèdre being bottled as a single varietal. Mourvèdre is a thick skinned grape, moderately drought tolerant and requires a lot of sunshine to ripen which makes it perfect for eastern Washington and the Sierra Foothills of California – both places where it’s showing off proudly as a single varietal wine.

Mourvèdre is an old varietal and probably first became known in Spain as Monastrell. It gained popularity in France, particularly as Provence’s most noble wine, Bandol. It’s also used in the Southern Rhone wine, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, a blend of at least 13 different grapes and is used in both southern France and Australia to add structure to Grenache and Syrah blends. You may have heard of Mourvèdre referred to as Mataro in Australia (or California back in the day).

The beauty of the desert like sunny days of eastern Washington and parts of California let this grape express it’s complexity and richness giving way to bold blackberry, blueberry and plum fruit with a wonderful hit of freshly ground black pepper that is stunningly unique and enticing. There may also be nuances of lavender, sweet tobacco and cocoa. The Spanish Monastrell will show more roasted meat aromas. An added bonus to Spanish Monastrell, is it’s affordability.

Mourvèdre is a full-bodied wine with big tannins. For me, this is not a patio sipper. I’d pair Mourvèdre with a steak, bbq, or rich tomato based pasta in the middle of winter…or during one of those heavy rainfalls seasons many of us seem to experience now-a-days.

Mourvèdre/Monastrell To Look For ~

Tarima Hill Monastrell, Bodegas Volver, Alicante, SP $14

Terre Rouge Mourvédre, Sierra Foothills, CA $28

Syncline Mourvèdre, Columbia Valley, WA $30

Bunnell Family Cellar, Northridge Vineyard Mourvèdre, WA $36

Domaine Tempier Bandol, Provence, FR $40


Pairing Wine And Food


A friend requested I write about pairing wine and food. I was somewhat hesitant because I felt the post would either become a dissertation or be so short it would barely clear a paragraph.

There are many avenues to take for pairing, from mandatory adherence to a strict set of rules to “Vinotyping” and taste bud count affecting how a person tastes (i.e. Why You Like The Wines You Like by Tim Hanni, MW).  I lean more towards the the later.  In my opinion, there is only one thing you need to know: drink what you like, like what you drink.  Choose a wine you enjoy and desire to drink with whatever it is you’re eating.  Conceding to pairing the alleged “appropriate” wine with food will not make the pairing better if it’s not speaking to you in the first place. It will however, make for an unpleasant dining experience.

Taste is personal but I believe there are parameters we generally share. Most people establish some level of tolerance for acidity and most people like sweet food. There are even a small percentage of people who cultivate a liking to bitterness. Accordingly, consider the following basic guidelines; use them as a starting off point then follow your own personal palate preferences:


Intensity: match intensity of wine and food (i.e. light wine-light food, heavy food-heavy wine)

Spicy food: pair spicy food with high acid, off dry, medium-sweet wine – try brut Rosé, Albarino, Riesling, or fight fire with fire and pair with a high alcohol spicy wine like Syrah or Zinfandel

Fatty food: pair fatty food with a high acid wine like an Vinho Verde, unoaked Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, or a tannic red like Mourvèdre, Cabernet Sauvignon or Tempranillo

Salty food: pair salty food with a high acid wine or wine with a bit of sweetness – try something sparkling like Champagne, a crisp Falanghina or a tawny port (think pretzels dipped in caramel)

Sweet food: pair sweet food with wine that has a high level of sweetness or fruitiness – try a late harvest wine, Ice wine, Moscato d’Asti, which has a slight effervescence, or for something fruity try a newer vintage Shiraz or Petite Sirah, these will probably be best for those dark chocolate pairings.

My ultimate advice is to acknowledge and embrace your individual tasting preferences. If you want Chardonnay with your steak and your friend prefers Cabernet Sauvignon…congratulations, you have both nailed your pairing!

~Drink what you like, like what you drink!~