Tessier Gold Bud Vineyard Mourvedre 2017
The 2017 Mourvedre from the Goldbud Vineyard has a deep violet hue and exotic, heady aromas of lilacs, lavender, mulberry and boysenberry, black pepper, anise and petrichor. The palate shows a brilliant range of flavors from plum skin and candied violets to ginger, lacquered apple and Chinese Five Spice.
Tessier is the result of Kristie’s passion for the art and science of winemaking. She began handcrafting small lots of Pinot Noir and has added Grenache, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Gamay Noir and Mourvedre. Kristie’s appreciation of French wines — especially those from Burgundy and the Loire and Rhone valleys — has shaped her winemaking choices. Pinot will always be her first love, and in 2017, Wine & Spirits awarded her 2014 Saveria Vineyard Pinot Noir 96 points, the highest score for that variety in the past year.
With a background in microbiology, Kristie is fascinated by the cycle of life; each vintage of Tessier wines captures and reflects one year in the lives of the vineyards she works with. She sources high-quality fruit from a strong network of farmers in the Russian River Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains and El Dorado foothills. She then uses minimal-interventionist winemaking techniques to showcase the unique characteristics of the grapes and the vineyards. For Kristie, sustainability is a priority — not only with the vineyards’ farming practices, but also by having long-term relationships with her growers and customers. With an annual production of 750 cases, Kristie is able to give unparalleled attention to each wine.
As home to California’s highest altitude vineyards, El Dorado is also one of its oldest wine growing regions. When gold miners settled here in the late 1800s, many also planted vineyards and made wine to quench its local demand.
By 1870, El Dorado County, as part of the greater Sierra Foothills growing area, was among the largest wine producers in the state, behind only Los Angeles and Sonoma counties. The local wine industry enjoyed great success until just after the turn of the century when fortune-seekers moved elsewhere and its population diminished. With Prohibition, winemaking and grape growing was totally abandoned. But some of these vines still exist today and are the treasure chest of the Sierra Foothills as we know them.
El Dorado has a diverse terrain with elevations ranging from 1,200 to 3,500 feet, creating countless mesoclimates for its vineyards. This diversity allows success with a wide range of grapes including whites like Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as for reds, Grenache, Syrah, Tempranillo, Barbera and especially, Zinfandel.
Soils tend to be fine-grained volcanic rock, shale and decomposed granite. Summer days are hot but nights are cool and the area typically gets ample precipitation in the form or rain or snow in the winter.
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.