Problem children are often the ones who make you the proudest of what they have become. My problem child is Block 14, Mourvèdre. Difficult to pronounce (mohr-VED-dra also commonly shortened to mohr-VED), difficult to grow, and easy to love.
Mourvèdre is late to start in the season and prone to over exuberant growth. However, at the same time, it catches every cold in the school and it just won’t commit to maturity until well after the rest of my blocks are in the tank (“Did you hear? – the Cabernet kids got into tank one, they must know the winemaker!”). But when it does finally decide to mature it produces a wine of complexity and subtlety that can only be forged in the crucible of an adolescent fraught with struggle.
In “A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties”, Jancis Robinson described Mourvèdre as a “high quality, heat-loving, dark-skinned variety most valued for its heady, structured contribution to blends”. In the old world, it is often used as a blending varietal. However, here in California it develops such complex balanced nuances it is often vinted as a standalone varietal.
So, what does this have to do with Temecula? Grapes like it hot. Wine Grapes, vitis vinifera, evolved in what is now Iraq and Iran. Winemaking moved north because if a wine gets much above 60°F it is prone to turning into vinegar. Therefore, wine regions proliferated where the subterranean temperatures remain below 60°F.
Refrigeration changed everything. We are now in an era where the vine is allowed to find its home to express its highest genetic potential. And if you look at wine regions across the globe, Temecula is of premiere potential for varietals that previously had to struggle in climates not suitable for production of the highest quality. Mourvèdre has been waiting 700 years to find alternate homes to show you what it can do. Don’t make it wait any longer. This is a wine I love to swirl, smell, and sip for hours as its rich, ripe, fruit-forward palate evolves to expose the beauty of integrated tannins and balance.
As you prepare your kids to return to school, stock up on some Mourvèdre. Then when you return from the inevitable parent-teacher conferences you can relax with a glass of wine with such poetic maturity that will remind you that all this effort will eventually lead to an adult conversation with your matured child; who, like the Mourvèdre, may have struggled in adolescence but will eventually develop such depth of character due to their nurturing environment. When that time comes, I would suggest sharing a Mourvèdre.
To all young and seasoned scholars embarking on this academic year we wish you all wisdom and balance that can only be achieved by patience and struggle.
~ Cheers from the Wilson Creek Vineyard Crew!
Our 2015 Family Reserve Mourvèdre is now available for our Wine Club Members online and in the Tasting Room! It will be released to the public early September, so be sure to stock up on this delicious varietal while it lasts!