All I Want for Christmas

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Found a 1999 Mourvèdre in the cellar the other night, a bottle I had completely forgotten about. I must have picked it up during a swing through Paso Robles, because it was from a Ken Volk second label, one used for Rhône-style wines before he sold his Wild Horse Winery. When I see varietal Mourvèdre –meaning a bottle of wine with that grape on the label, meaning it’s at least 75% Mourvèdre – I buy it. Doesn’t matter who made it, or when, or where.

And you thought I was really selective, right?

Well, this habit of mine really is an example of high selectivity. Years ago, in the first wine class I ever took, the instructor poured a Mourvedre during a session on California Rhones. He didn’t know the wine himself, because he had picked it up in a shop on the way to class. I remember the look on his face as he took a quick sip himself while the wine was being poured for the students in the room. His eyebrows went up. When the pourers got to me, I asked for a little extra.

That wine was Ancient Vine Mourvèdre from Cline Cellars, and I went out and bought some the next day. Started buying Mourvedre whenever I saw it. Still do. The reason? That grape just happens to fit my palate perfectly.

You might say the grape selected me, because when I discovered that I liked it I had very little knowledge of French or Californian wine. In other words, I didn’t decide that I liked it for any particular reason, because I didn’t know what the reasons were for liking wine. I just… liked it.

Today I have more knowledge, but it doesn’t change what my palate wants. I know that Mourvèdre’s long ripening cycle means it’s can’t become a super-ripe fruit bomb, its acid structure means it’s always going to have some grip in the texture, and its berry size means it’s going to have pretty good color. Turns out I like these things in all red wine. Mourvèdre just happens to have them in spades.

In fact I still have that empty Equus bottle on my desk as a reminder. Because the holidays are approaching and I now see that I can give my family and friends a very short, bullet-proof wish list. Doesn’t matter who made it, or when, or where. Just give me a bottle of Mourvèdre.

- Thom Elkjer
Check out my regular wine coverage at www.winecountry.com.

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