While attending the Crux Winery GSM Blending Trial, co-owner and winemaker Steve Gower said to us “Mourvèdre is a hard varietal to describe. If you can think of a good way to do it, let us know.” Challenge accepted, Steve.
About the Wine: Mourvèdre is a funny grape. It thrives in warm weather, is a late bloomer and, thus, is usually the last variety picked in the vineyard (and is often the bane of a grape grower’s existence). What’s more, the grape clusters are quite compact, making it more susceptible to disease and mildew. But it’s these somewhat frustrating qualities that give the Mourvèdre wine its signature tastes and textures: high alcohol and high tannins. Wonky and somewhat imbalanced on its own, Mourvèdre tends to serve best as a blending ingredient (most notably as the M in Rhone-inspired GSM blends). But every once in awhile, if the weather and the harvest are just right, vintners can craft a Mourvèdre that can stand on its own.
Crux Winery 2014 Mourvèdre is made from 90% Mourvèdre (from Windsor Oaks Vineyard, Russian River AVA, Sonoma County) and 10% Syrah (Atoosa’s and Estrella Vineyards, Russian River AVA, Sonoma County). The Mourvèdre was aged in neutral French oak while the Syrah sat in barrels that were 33% new. The aged wines were blending right before bottling.
Flavor Profile: The moment you pull the cork from the Crux Winery 2014 Mourvèdre there’s an immediate aroma of, what I’m going to call, earth-berries. Think the slightly bitterness of lingon or goji berry that’s fallen to the ground just below the bush and has become crushed, enmeshed into the soil. Earth-berry.
In the glass, the wine is a beautiful crushed velvet as royal purple kisses rosebud red. It’s clean on the swirl — leaving no trace streaks or residue.
The nose of the wine takes you further into the forest scene, emitting aromas of sage brush, hints of mint, and a subtle background of damp bark.
And is it that squashed earth-berry or that damp bark that gives the initial taste of the wine a farm-like funkiness? But it’s a refreshing funk, as if the earth has been drenched with river water after a flood. The initial texture plays to this point, as it has a clear-like watery quality. This quickly subsides and the mid-palate brings a bit of spice and a bit of grip to the tongue. This leads to the finish which is a solid and complete one: The tannins are present in a way that rounds out the wine, but they are small, little specks — as if painting the wine’s portrait with pointillism.
Food Pairing: Play to these textures. I enjoyed Crux Winery 2014 Mourvèdre with a pepper crusted filet mignon cooked med-rare. The juiciness of the meat paralleled that refreshing quality found in the initial palate of the wine; the steak’s crusty exterior played up that mid-palate spice and grip; the hardiness of the meat, in its entirety, is the solidity of the wine’s finish.
I paired the filet mignon with an herb-based salad, which pulled out those herbaceous aromas. The salad was tossed with fresh blueberries and blue cheese. While the blueberries did their obvious part to enhance the Mourvèdre’s fruit flavors and aromas, it was the blue cheese that really showcased the terroir of river-drenched funky farm.
Perfect pairing? I’d say so.
More Info: If you haven’t yet read the Crux Winery review, please do so — it includes a complete list of my wines to try. I received Crux Winery 2014 Mourvèdre as a gift. (Cheers Steve and Brian!) Retail: $42. For more information about Crux Winery and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Crux Winery website.
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