Alban Forsythe Vineyard The Mason Mourvedre 2011
Alban Vineyards is the first America winery and vineyard established exclusively for Rhone varieties. Conceived at a time when there were virtually only two "flavors" of wine produced in the U.S., they set out to introduce wine grapes that would offer oenephiles a new world of possibilities. Pioneering Roussanne, Grenache Noir and Viognier to go along with meticulously selected clones of Syrah, Alban Vineyards has guided consumers and producers to the enormous potential of Rhone varietals in California.
California’s coolest wine growing area, Edna Valley excels in the production of high quality Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Rhône Blends and aromatic white wines. It has a cool Mediterranean climate and an incredibly long growing season, giving late-ripening varieties plenty of opportunity to develop great phenolic complexity.
Its northwest to southeast orientation creates a direct path for cool Pacific air and fog to penetrate the valley from the Los Osos and Morro Bay area inwards. Low hillsides of both calcareous and volcanic soils are home to much of the vineyard acreage of the Edna Valley.
Full of color, ripe fruit, plenty of texture and earthy goodness, Mourvèdre is an important grape in many key regions in the south of France, as well as in Spain and the New World. Mourvèdre is actually of Spanish provenance (there known as Monastrell or Mataro) and is the key variety in Alicante, Jumilla and Yecla. It truly thrives, however, in Provence’s Bandol region, where it shines on its own as a single varietal red and in Southern Rhône where it palys a major part in blends . It is also of great importance in the Southern Rhône alongside Grenache and Syrah—and in California and Australia, as a single varietal wine or in Rhône blends.
In the Glass
At their finest, Mourvèdre wines are robust and full of brambly red and black fruit, and aromas and flavors of herbs, leather, earth, dark chocolate and licorice. Well-aged examples can show an impressive degree of elegance and an attractive perfume. In blends with Grenache and Syrah, Mourvèdre provides fleshy texture, tannic structure and deep color.
This earthy Mediterranean variety loves rustic food—think cassoulet, wild boar ragu or smoky ribs. Mourvèdre’s tannins are bold but not bitter, lending both weight and texture.
Mourvèdre used to have significant plantings in California, but the vine lost popularity during the 20th century in favor of other varieties. However, in the 1980s, a group of California winemakers inspired by the wines of the Rhône Valley have been working to bring the variety back into the spotlight. Plantings have since increased and Rhône blends are now a highly-regarded specialty of the Central Coast.