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Mourvèdre (moor - ved - re)

Best pronounced if you channel your finest Dracula impersonation, Mourvèdre is not a red grape variety that immediately springs to mind. Its French nickname “the dog-strangler” probably doesn’t help, a moniker derived from the mouth-drying quality of its tannins! But if you like your reds with a full body and a bit of spice, then this one’s for you.

Like many of us, Mourvèdre is a serious sun-worshipper. It needs a lot of warmth to ripen its thick skins and can be found in France soaking up the rays in Provence, the Languedoc, and the Rhône valley. Not surprisingly, as the grape is thought to have first come from Spain, it also grows happily in the Spanish Med regions of Valencia, Alicante, and Jumilla (not to be confused with the early noughties pop singer) where it goes by the name Monastrell. And for long-haul destinations, South Africa, California, and Australia are natural homes (where it often goes by yet another name, Mataro).

So why isn’t Mourvèdre that well-known? Essentially because it usually plays a supporting role in reds such as Côtes-du-Rhone and Chàteauneuf-du-Pape, where it is blended with Grenache and Syrah. Not that you would know it as the French historically gave little detail about what grapes went into their wines and it took those straight-talking Aussies to nail it with their popular “GSM blends” (Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvèdre).

But Mourvèdre can be stand-alone star as well, and not only in its most famous home of Bandol in Provence. Typically, the wines are deep purple with punchy tannins and alcohol, and taste of blackberries. pepper and what is often described as a “meaty” flavour. No prizes to guess what they go with! Red meat in all its forms, especially barbecues, where the wines also work with roast mushrooms and smoky aubergines.

And if you want something lighter before hitting the big reds, Mourvèdre even turns up as a spicier, rosé alternative to its pale pink cousins in Provence and puts the pink in rosé Cava!

So, on the assurance that despite its nickname, no canines have been hurt in the making of these wines, why not try out one of our Mourvèdres.

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