Mourvèdre, also known as Monastrell in Spain and Mataro in Australia and California, is a black-skinned grape variety that has been grown in vineyards around the western Mediterranean for centuries. Thought to have originated in Spain, it is now grown extensively throughout the Iberian Peninsula, southern France, California, and South Australia. The grape variety prefers warm and dry climates, and has small, thick-skinned berries that are ideal for making wines with intense color and high tannin levels. Its tannins are so strong that it earned the French nickname Étrangle-Chien (the dog strangler).
Mourvèdre's meaty, herby aromas and strong tannins make it a popular ingredient for blending with vibrant Grenache and structured Syrah. In France, it is a key variety in both Provence and the southern Rhône Valley, where it is a regular component in Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape blends. However, it was hit hard by the phylloxera epidemic of the 1880s and was largely eradicated from some vineyard areas. Today, it is still grown in the coastal hillsides of Bandol and forms at least half of the region's tannic, meaty red wines and gently spicy rosés. In Spain, Monastrell wines tend to be rich, dark affairs, frequently showing flavors of blackberry and black cherry.
In Australia and California, Mourvèdre is often called Mataro and tends to be richer and more fruit-driven than those produced around the Mediterranean. Growing this variety requires a great deal of patience as the vines take several years before they begin to produce fruit of any quality and are one of the last to be picked.