As you can tell by the look of the label, this wine has been a long-time member of my personal stash — a souvenir, if you will, from a somewhat impromptu pass through Paso Robles. When I ran into Maggie Tillman, the awesome chica who co-owns the winery with her father Bob, at a recent conference, she was so sweet to still remember me. I told her I still had the wine, that it was so special to me. She advised drinking it soon — her and Bob had recently opened one and it was just at the peak of its awesomeness. “Ah, well, I kind of want to save it for a special occasion,” I said. “Yeah, or a Tuesday,” replied Maggie. “When you’ve just had a day and need a goooood glass of wine.”
Yeah, life has been a roller-coaster lately. And Maggie was right. It wasn’t the day, the time, or the place that was of import. It was that I was able to chill-ax with my partner in wine (and life) crime and enjoy a solid Mourvedre, a delicious meal and, at least for a moment, forget about the twist and turns to come.
Thanks, Maggie. You be a wiiiiiise woman.
Earthy, muddy, murky, funky. These are the words I think of when I think of Mourvedre and the qualities that endear the variety to me. Even in its rosé form, there’s something rustic, even animalistic, about it.
As my winemaking friend Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines notes, “Warner always produces a darker, more brooding style of Mourvèdre…this ‘funks’ the wine up a bit and gives it spice and structure.”
And yet my winemaking friend Steve Grower from Crux Winery said, “I’ve been tempted to say ‘Mourvedre has a je ne sais quoi‘ to avoid having to actually describe it.”
Indeed to pin Mourvedre down to a single style — well you shouldn’t tame a wild thing I suppose. All I can say as an introduction to this Mourvedre based on my experiences…
Now for something completely different…
I was extremely excited when I opened my package from Stinson Vineyard to find a rosé of Mourvèdre. Ever since I’ve tasted the version created by Larry Schaffer of Tercero in Santa Barbara, California, I’ve been in love with this kind of wine innovation. A rustic red turned rosé? Yes please. But to taste something from the other side of the country, from White Hall, Virginia, was to taste something completely different.
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.
As a vintner, when you find a vineyard site you love, it’s truly something special. You come to know the lay of the land, the quality of the fruit, and can taste — even at bud break — the potential for the wine you want to create. As a vintner, when you find a vineyard site you love, you’ll do everything in your power to keep the relationship with the landowner, ensuring that year after year you can keep on creating. As a vintner, when you find a vineyard site you love and the landowner decides to sell — this can be a tragic change of events. Unless you decide to purchase it. Which is exactly what Andrew Tow did.