By K.L. Riley
This week I want to focus on the grape mourvedre. Mourvedre is a grape that is indigenous to the southern Rhone valley of France. One of the most famous wines from southern Rhone is Chateauneuf–du–Pape which is traditionally a blend of 13 grapes, primarily Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre (also known as GSM). The mourvedre grape usually adds tannins and some underlying structure to this blend. Yet, on its own it proves to be a statuesque varietal, rich in flavor that deserves to be honored in both forms. I was introduced to the Tablas Creek Mouvedre recently and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it ever since. Tablas Creek Winery is a relatively small winery located in Paso Robles California which is situated south of Napa valley on the coast. This region has a warm climate and rocky soil which lends itself for Rhone varietals because of its similarities to the Rhone valley.This 2003 vintage is ready drink and that is evident from the moment you smell the bouquet. I was overwhelmed with strawberries, cherries, red licorice, and black pepper. The fruit on the bouquet has a familiar aroma but you can’t quite narrow it down to one specific fragrance. The Deep rose color and the thick legs in the glass is an indication that the wine might have high alcohol content but it definitely doesn’t drink that way. On the palate it explodes with untamed fruit notes of cherry and it feels robust on the tongue. If a wine could be considered to be “round“, this is a great example. The spice and acidity grips the back of the tongue and the wine demands your attention. It is hard not to dive into this bottle head first because of its complexity. While I was drinking this wine I couldn’t help but think how similar in style it is when compared to a southern Rhone. Tablas Creek mourvedre is the yin and yang of fruit and acidity, both parts working together to produce a wine that can withstand time in the cellar, or if you are impulsive like me, ready to be consumed right away. This particular mourvedre is also what I like to call a “cross over” wine. One can enjoy a hearty steak or a delicately grilled halibut with this one. Hats off to this wine maker!
Another attribute to this bottle is the price; about 60 dollars in a restaurant and 15 to 20 dollars cost. When the economy is as bad as it is now, we “cork dorks” need to find value in our wines and this wine is a smoking deal. If you happen to stumble on this wine or any wine made by Tablas Creek, you are in for a treat! If you have had the opportunity to try this wine or any unique varietals please share them with me.