The red grape variety comes from Spain. The 100 or so synonyms testify to its great age and wide distribution. The most important of these are grouped alphabetically by country (the other main names are in bold) Mataro(Australia, California); Balsac Noir, Balthazar, Balzac Noir, Beausset, Bon Avis, Catalan, Clairette Noire, Espagnen, Espar, Marseillais, Morvede, Mourvede, Mourvedon, Mourvèdre, Murviedro, Plant de Ledenon, Plant de Saint Gilles(France); Negria(Greece); Rossola Nera(Corsica); Alcallata, Alcayata, Alicante, Benada, Benadu, Berardi, Garrut, Gayata, Gayata Tinta, Mataró, Monastre, Monastrel, Monastrell Garrut, Morastrell, Negrette, Negre Trinchiera, Ros, Tintilla, Torrentes, Trinchiera, Verema, Veremeta, Vereneta(Spain).
The variety was already mentioned in 1381 in Empordà (Catalonia) by the monk Francisc Eiximenis (1340-1409), together with the Bobal, as the most important varieties in Valencia. The name probably derives from "monasterio" (monastery). This could be an indication that the variety was first cultivated and spread by monks. The exact origin is probably the area around the city of Sagunto in the province of Valencia. Sagunto was an important wine port north of Valencia and was called Murviedro in Catalan until 1877, from which the main French name Mourvèdre probably derives.
Although it appears to have synonyms or morphological similarities, it should not be confused with the varieties Bobal, Graciano (Monastrell Menudo), Moristel, Négrette or Rossola Nera. The French variety Mourvèdre (Mataro) is identical, which was doubted for some time by a misinterpreted DNA analysis. According to analyses carried out in 2010, Graciano and Monastrell could be siblings (same parents), but a parent-offspring relationship between the two can be ruled out. It is also suspected that they are related to the Italian variety Vermentino Nero. In probably natural crosses she was a parent of the varieties Bourrisquou, Epero de Gall, Gorgollasa and Pascale. She was also (as Mourvèdre) a crossing partner in the new breeding of Mourvèdre Hichle.
This very late-maturing, low-yielding vine is sensitive to drought, susceptible to both types of mildew, mites and Esca, but resistant to botrytis and black spot disease. The thick-skinned berries produce red wines with a high alcohol content, dark colour and rich in tannins, with aromas of blackberries. The variety is not unproblematic, as it likes "the face in the sun and the feet in the water". So it needs a lot of sunshine, but also a good water supply. In any case, it is excellently suited or dependent on the Mediterranean climate with long, hot summers and mild winters.
By far the largest quantity is found in its country of origin, Spain, where it is cultivated mainly in the centre and along the Mediterranean coast in the south-east of the country. The largest areas under cultivation are in Castile-La Mancha with numerous DO areas and in the Levant with the DO areas of Alicante, Jumilla, Valencia and Yecla. It is mainly used as a blending partner with the Bobal variety, among others, but is also increasingly developed as a pure variety. In 2010, a total of 58,406 hectares were recorded in Spain with a declining trend.
The variety was probably introduced to the south of France as early as the 16th century and was named in Provence after the above-mentioned port city of Mourvèdre and in Roussillon after a town called Mataro located between Barcelona and Valencia. It was then widespread in France before the phylloxera and powdery mildew catastrophe, but was then extremely reduced (in the 1950s there were only a few hundred hectares left). In 2010, it covered a total of 9,257 hectares in the regions of Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence, the southern Rhône and on the island of Corsica, and the trend is still upwards (ten years earlier it was 7,634 hectares).
This rapid upswing is also demonstrated by the extensive use of the variety in countless French appellation wines. Mourvèdre is often blended with Carignan(Mazuelo), Grenache Noir(Garnacha Tinta), Cinsaut and Syrah. It is also used in the wines of Bandol, Cassis, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Corbières, Côtes de Provence, Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Roussillon, Faugères, Fitou, Gigondas, Les Baux-de-Provence, Lirac, Luberon, Minervois, Palette, Saint-Chinian, Tavel, Vacqueyras, Ventoux and Vin de Corse. Especially in Languedoc, there are also single-variety Mourvèdre wines.
There are further stocks in Turkey (4 ha) and Cyprus (172 ha). The variety is much more widespread overseas. There are cultivated areas in Algeria, Argentina (8 ha), Australia (692 ha), Chile (59 ha), South Africa (403 ha), Tunisia (337 ha) and Uruguay (1 ha), as well as in the USA (404 ha) in the states of Arizona, California, Oregon, Texas, Virginia and Washington. In 2010, the variety occupied a total of 69,748 hectares (ten years earlier it was 76,304 hectares). This puts it in 14th place in the global grape variety ranking.
Spring: Wine Grapes / J. Robinson, J. Harding, J. Vouillamoz / Penguin Books Ltd. 2012
Pictures: Ursula Brühl, Doris Schneider, Julius Kühn Institute (JKI)