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Rhone Rangers Varietal Nights – MOURVEDRE (This Newbie Cali Girl’s FAVORITE Rhone Varietal)

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On May 6, I had the pleasure of attending the Mourvedre Varietal Night at Tablas Creek Vineyard, just one event of the Rhone Rangers’ 2014 Varietal Night Series.

During this event (along with the others in the series), patrons have a unique opportunity to celebrate and taste Rhone-varietal wines poured by local wineries, sample artisan cheese and small bites served to pair with the wines and enjoy live music.

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Brief History of Mourvedre
Mourvedre happens to be my favorite of all wine varieties. Pronounced More-VEHD-ruh, this wine has a mid-palate depth and a structural bass-note compared to other GSM blends. It is native to Spain, where they call it Monastrell. It was well-established in the Roussillon region of France most likely by the 16th Century, later spreading east towards Provence and the Rhone.

Mourvedre’s Aromatics, Flavor & Mouthfeel
A Mourvedre often offers more savory notes than fruit notes, and has been described as “meaty,” “earthy,” and “herbal.” Its aromas can include coffee, pepper, cured meat, licorice, wild mushrooms and tobacco. Its mouthfeel could be described as plush and full-bodied with a long, velvety finish.

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My Tasting Experience with the Mourvedre
Although I did not have enough time to taste every wine at this event (I struck up conversation with several of the vineyard representatives), I was pleased with the varieties I did taste. I would still like to venture out to the remaining wineries I missed to taste their Mourvedre, and then do a follow-up article to this one, so stay tuned for that.

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My Tasting Notes…
Cass Vineyard and Winery
Wine: 2012, 100%, neutral oak
Winemaker notes: “I’m a farmer. I want you to taste what I grow, not what I can do to what I grow.”
Aromatics: Tart fruit, pomegranate.
Flavor: Pure, Smooth, bit of spice (baking spices).
Pairing: “I would suggest enjoying this wine with rack of lamb.” – (from the winemaker) or “Come visit the veranda because we serve food until 5 p.m.!”

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Adelaida

Wine: 2011, 100%
Winemaker notes: “This is a darker, more serious blend. I like Mourvedre more fruit-forward.”
Aromatics: Fruit-forward, fig or raisin, hint of warmth, like an afterthought of spice.
Flavor: Myrrh/Incense, smoky but smooth on the first sip, black cherry in the middle with a warm candied finish.
Pairing: I paired with Tartufo charcuterie, and the wine definitely woke up the truffle/yeast mushroom flavor of the meat…like nutritional yeast. Do not pair with plain bread, as it almost makes bread taste bitter.

 

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Anglim
Wine: 2011 just-released, 100%
Winemaker notes: “Pair with ahi tuna, beef, lamb shank or herbed Chevre.”
Aromatics: Spicy and warm, cedar, yet noticeable red fruit.
Flavor: Complex, spicy, heat/kick to it, cardamom, pepper, oaky. You get a recognizable forest floor, red berries, mocha and the cedar that was on the nose.
Pairing: I paired with bread and cranberries with olive oil, as well as a bite of plain Chevre, which smoothed out the wine and brought out the fruit of it.

 

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Kenneth Volk Vineyards
Wine: 2010, 100%
Aromatics: A bit sour, tart and pungent.
Flavor: Very blackberry, hint of spice, somewhat underwhelming with a dash of strawberry.

 

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Cypher
Wine: 2011 “El Pelon,” 100%, only made 303 cases.
Aromatics: Spicy and complex, heavy and dark-red fruit.
Flavor: Smooth, clove, good mouthfeel, bay leaf and herbs with hint of dark fruit.
Pairing: I paired with boar, which brought a buttery softness to the complexity of the wine. Bread with olive oil took its personality down a notch.

 

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Tablas Creek Vineyard (the host)
Wine: 2011 Estate, 100%
Winemaker notes: “Tablas Creek actually started the Rhone Varietals on the Central Coast. This wine had a soft, wet, long and lush year. Chateau de Beaucastel (sister winery) sent the Rhones from France to California in 1990.”
Aromatics: Subtle fruit, darker and fresher.
Flavor: Wetter, cooler taste to it, with earthy, blue fruit.
Pairing: I paired with bread, cranberry and chevre, which brought out the earthy/bitter/gamey-ness of the chevre.

 

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Thacher Winery and Vineyard
Wine: 2011 “Controlled Chaos”47% Mourvedre, 33% Zinfandel, 20% Grenache
Winemaker notes: “We haven’t done a 100% Mourvedre since 2009.”
Aromatics: Summery strawberry/rhubarb (Grenache).
Flavor: Hint of spice/warmth, more medium-red fruit with a cherry aftertaste…hint of pepper (the Zin).

 

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Sculpterra
Wine: 2011, 100%, only made 200 cases.
Aromatics: Spicy, earthy, peppery, bitter.
Flavor: Spicy, notes of black cherry, very earthy and full-bodied, great stand-alone.
Pairing: With Fisalini cheese, the wine is sweeter and smoother.

 

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Minassian – Young
Wine: 2010, 100%, 14.4% ALC
Aromatics: Tart, but rich and fruit-forward.
Flavor: Medium-bodied, darker red fruit, hint of warmth and spice, smooth finish.
Pairing: I paired with bread, cranberry and Chevre, which brought out the earthy/bitter/gamey-ness of the Chevre.

 

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Pomar Junction
Wine: [YEAR?] – Grenache – 30%, Syrah – 30%, Mourvedre – 40%
Aromatics: Tart, but rich and fruit-forward.
Flavor: Medium-bodied, darker red fruit, hint of warmth and spice, smooth finish.
Pairing: I paired with bread, cranberry and chevre, which brought out the earthy/bitter/gamey-ness of the chevre.

 

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Pomar Junction #2
Wine: “Train Wreck” – Cabernet Sauvignon (25%), Zinfandel (25%), Mourvedre (25%), Syrah (12.5%), Petite Sirah (12.5%)
Aromatics: Fruity/Jammy, spicy with black berry and a hint of jalapeno.
Flavor: Leather, spice, jalapeno, black currant, cherry and blueberry, tobacco; excellent as a stand-alone.

 

FOODS
Foods that were available to pair with the wines were as follows:

  • Chevre plain: fresh and soft goat’s milk, creamy in texture with light citrus notes.
  • Manchego: delicious Spanish hard cheese made with sheep milk, aged for six months to give it a nutty, caramel flavor.
  • Fisialini: hearty, nutty cow’s milk with no rind, creamy white, firm and crumbly fresh.
  • Prosciutto: Italian ham cured by drying, served in thin slices.
  • Tartufo: a sausage made with black summer truffles with a delicate, earthy aroma.
  • Finnocchiona: Tuscan seasoned sausage flavored with fennel seeds and black pepper.
  • Wild boar sausage: artisan, gamey and earthy.

 

Wines I Have Yet to Taste

  • Alta Colina
  • Venteaux
  • Vines on the Marycest
  • Lone Madrone

 

Overall, it was a wonderful event with amazing wines, and excellent opportunities to meet the people who know those wines the best. It also saves the time of driving all over the county to find your favorite wine of a certain variety by bringing them all to one place to learn about and sample.

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For more information on this event and others Rhone Rangers events like it, please visit www.//rhonerangers.org/calendar/chapter.php or email pasovarietalnights.@gmail.com. Discover the American Rhone wines of Paso Robles…

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