The Rise of Mourvèdre: A Texas Wine Renaissance

The story of Mourvèdre is as rich and complex as the wine itself. This journey from obscurity to popularity isn't just about the grape but also the evolving palate of wine lovers and the innovative spirit of Texan winemakers.

The story of Mourvèdre is as rich and complex as the wine itself. Originating from Spain, where it’s known as Monastrell, this grape has traversed continents and centuries to find a surprising stronghold in the soils of Texas. This journey from obscurity to popularity isn’t just about the grape but also the evolving palate of wine lovers and the innovative spirit of Texan winemakers and the Texas Wine they produce.

The Origins of Mourvèdre

Mourvèdre’s story begins in the Phocaean era, with its roots traced back to Spain. Its resilience and adaptability allowed it to spread across the Mediterranean, flourishing under various names: Mataró in Catalonia, Monastrell in the rest of Spain, and Mourvèdre in France, particularly in the Provence and Rhône regions. Its journey was marked by the rise and fall in popularity, overshadowed at times by other varieties, yet it remained a staple for robust, complex wines.

In the 20th century, Mourvèdre faced a critical challenge with the phylloxera epidemic and the subsequent shift in agricultural and viticultural practices. Its acreage diminished drastically, particularly in France, where it was once widely cultivated. However, the latter half of the century saw a revival of interest in traditional grape varieties, setting the stage for Mourvèdre’s renaissance.

Mourvèdre in the New World

As European immigrants settled in the New World, they brought with them their viticultural heritage. Mourvèdre made its way across the Atlantic, finding new homes in the United States, Australia, South Africa, and beyond. In each locale, the grape adapted, reflecting the terroir and winemaking practices of its new environment.

In the United States, Mourvèdre initially struggled to gain a foothold. It was grown in California, where it was known mainly as Mataró and used primarily in blends. However, the late 20th century saw a burgeoning interest in Rhône varieties, spearheaded by the “Rhône Rangers” in California. This movement brought renewed attention to Mourvèdre, highlighting its potential for producing distinct, high-quality wines.

The Texan Terroir and Mourvèdre

Texas might not be the first place one thinks of for wine, yet its wine history dates back centuries. The state’s vast and varied terroir, with its hot, dry climate, mirrors the conditions of Mourvèdre’s native Spain. As Texas winemaking matured, vintners began experimenting with grape varieties that would thrive in its challenging environment. Mourvèdre, with its heat tolerance and preference for dry conditions, emerged as a fitting choice.

The introduction of Mourvèdre in Texas is a testament to the state’s innovative and experimental approach to winemaking. Pioneering vintners recognized the grape’s potential, planting it in various regions, from the High Plains to the Hill Country. As they mastered the grape’s cultivation and vinification, Mourvèdre began to gain prominence, capturing the attention of wine enthusiasts and critics alike.

Mourvèdre’s Rise to Popularity in Texas

The popularity of Mourvèdre in Texas can be attributed to several factors. Its ability to produce full-bodied, complex wines with flavors of red fruit, earth, and spice appealed to consumers looking for bold, distinctive wines. Furthermore, its versatility in blends and as a varietal wine provided winemakers with creative freedom, allowing them to craft unique expressions of Texas terroir.

Texas wineries have not only embraced Mourvèdre but have also championed it, showcasing the grape at wine festivals, competitions, and tasting rooms. The grape’s success is reflected in the growing number of award-winning Mourvèdre wines hailing from the Lone Star State, establishing it as a signature variety.

Texas Wineries with Great Mourvèdre Wines

While there are a significant number of wineries in Texas producing Mourvedre or Mourvedre blends, I thought I would mention a few that stand out as exceptional.

William Chris Vineyards. The first Mourvedre I ever tried, and still one of my favorites. See Review.

Narrow Path Winery: A medium to full-bodied wine with a flavor highlighted by dark fruit and black pepper. I really noticed the black pepper and it was awesome. Also, one of my favorites. See Review.

Portree Cellars: The 2021 Mourvèdre is perfect for barbecue or rich meats. I really enjoyed this one and would consider it my second favorite. See Review.

Once you find your perfect Mourvèdre, you’ll need the perfect glass to drink it from. The combination of the right wine and the right glass will make your heart flutter with joy. I recommend you try Libbey for a great selection of wine glasses.

The Future of Mourvèdre in Texas

As Mourvèdre continues to thrive in Texas, the future looks promising. The state’s winemakers are continually refining their techniques, experimenting with different clones, and exploring new terroirs. The focus is on quality and expression, aiming to produce wines that reflect the unique character of Texas while honoring the grape’s heritage.

The rising interest in local and regional wines, along with the growing recognition of Texas as a quality wine-producing region, suggests that Mourvèdre’s place in the state’s wine industry is secure. As consumers continue to explore and appreciate the diversity of wines available, Mourvèdre stands out for its rich history, unique profile, and deep Texas roots.

In conclusion, the story of Mourvèdre is a narrative of resilience, adaptation, and resurgence. From its ancient origins to its reinvention in the Texan sun, the grape has traversed a remarkable path. Its growing popularity in Texas is more than a trend; it’s a testament to the state’s innovative spirit and the enduring appeal of this versatile, robust grape.

About the Author

A native of Texas, Ken “Texan” Pierce is a renowned alcohol aficionado with over 15 years of experience in the Texas wine, whiskey, and beer industry. With a vast number of alcohol production resources right in his back yard in the Texas Hill Country, Ken has made it his mission to promote and advance the Texas winemaking, distilling, and brewing industry across the country.  His uncanny ability to identify tasting notes and pairings makes him a respected authority within alcohol enthusiast circles. When he’s not reviewing the latest craft spirits, you can find Ken playing his guitar, trying to sing, and sipping on a Texas libation.

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