Mourvedre was planted at our Carmel Vineyard not just for it’s affinity to our warm elevated climate but also for it’s unique and savoury flavour profile. Our aim was to produce a wine with spicy, earthy and dusty flavour complexities. A wine that would compliment food.
When we first planted the Mourvedre most of our friends told us that we were fools, that it was poor man’s shiraz and it would never do any good. But we felt that the rustic, savoury elements of the Mourvedre as being great characters to work with to create a medium bodied food wine, something that would remind us of the Mediterranean reds we saw in Europe.
We went about planting the grape and making the wine. It’s been a huge success at cellar door for us.
We think of Mourvedre as the quintessential Mediterranean wine. It has medium body, it has savoury characters, it has some fruit weight and Mediterranean foods are a perfectly match for this wine.
In terms of cellaring, Mourvedre is a little bit of unknown quantity, we’ve only been producing it since 2006. Initially given its medium bodied palate, we were recommending cellaring for six to eight years. But having recently tasted the 2006, we’re thinking of revising that too much later, maybe eight to ten years. It ages very gracefully and bottle develops some lovely rich leathery characters, which are very attractive.
In the vineyard Mourvedre is an absolute pleasure to work with. It’s very upright in its growth habits, it sets a pretty good crop and is very drought tolerant, which probably goes back to its Spanish origins.
Mourvedre was planted on the lower slopes at our Carmel Vineyard in 2001 on a drought tolerant rootstock (paulsen 1103). On this warmer site the late ripening Mourvedre can achieve full ripeness. Due to the heavy gravel loam soils and the hardiness of the rootstock these vines typically go without irrigation.
Mourvedre is quite a forgiving grape variety in the vineyard, it has a broad picking window, but having said that, it ripens very, very late in the season. It’s typically the last grape we pick in the vineyard in any season
In terms of the wine that we make with Mourvedre, it’s a more of a medium bodied style, and we’ve work very hard to accentuate the rustic, spicy, earthy, dusty elements of the grape.
After hand harvesting the fruit is chilled and crushed into small open fermenters. At this point up to 80 litres a ton of juice is drained off the ferment to increase the skin-to-juice ratio. Typically a small portion (5-8%) of Touriga Nacional, the Portuguese grape is crushed and co-fermented with the Mourvedre. We find this helps to lift aromatics and moderate the harder tannin structure of Mourvedre.
Maceration on skins typically lasts 8- 10 days with the cap worked every 6 hours by hand. An aerated pump-over is performed once a day between hand plunging. Maturation is conducted in older French oak puncheons for 12 months – we’re looking to express purely the variety, the fruit and the vineyard. Minimal fining and filtration is performed prior to bottling.