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The last time I was in the Southwest Wine Center tasting room, Phil and Michael said they had something special to share with me. Lo and behold, it was their 2016 Mourvèdre, and they asked if I would be kind enough to review it prior to its release sometime this October. Since I love this grape, and how it expresses itself in our high desert landscape, I couldn’t say no, especially since no other grape so typifies fall to me in the way pumpkin spice does for others. (If I had to pin down just why, I would say it has to be the rich, spiced scent of so many wines made with this grape.) So, I went out into the desert and poured myself a glass to welcome the first day of fall.
The Wine: The 2016 Mourvèdre from the Southwest Wine Center is made from… 100% Mourvèdre. The grapes were sourced from Al Buhl Memorial Vineyard, in the heart of the Willcox AVA. The grapes were harvested on September 1st, and fermentation for this vintage took place in open-top fermenters. The resulting wine was aged in neutral American oak for about 9 months. This Mourvèdre is a little lighter in color than some other vintages made from this grape here in Arizona: a translucent garnet hue. (This makes sense, as it feels to me a little lighter-bodied.) All wines offered at the Southwest Wine Center are made by students of the Yavapai College Viticulture and Oenology program.
The Nose: The 2016 Mourvèdre opens with aromas of boysenberry, cherry, cedar, vanilla, and strawberry, which intermingle with rosemary and rich, dusty earth. As the wine opens, additional notes of allspice, fennel, and tobacco emerge.
The Palate: As I mentioned above, this particular Mourvèdre is a lighter-bodied wine when compared to many of its brethren, with medium tannins and nice acidity. This vintage opens with notes of cherry, juniper, strawberry, petrichor, and sage. The finish lasts for 41 seconds, filled with notes of flint, allspice, cherry, sage, and stonefruit.
The Pairing: I ended up pairing my bottle of the 2016 SWC Mourvèdre with my special pork pot roast recipe, which uses green chilis, red chilis, a lot of red wine, rosemary, and mushrooms. You could also easily pair this vintage with a similarly hearty venison stew. For a vegetarian or vegan pairing, a roasted veggie casserole will work wonders. Keep in mind that Mourvèdre is a great wine to pair with fall comfort foods in general!
Impressions: As I mentioned above, no wine signifies fall for me more than Mourvèdre, and this 2016 offering from the Southwest Wine Center is no exception. Since this vintage is lighter-bodied, it will be more easily approachable for the average consumer than some of the other, far more tannic, examples this state has to offer. This makes the SWC Mourvèdre a no-brainer for fall family affairs. This does mean that it will not age nearly as long, however, so I would recommend cellaring this vintage for no longer than three years. If you must decant this wine, do so for no more than a half hour before serving, but this isn’t a necessary step.
Personified, the 2016 Mourvèdre is feminine, with a penchant for wilderness camping and a degree in microbiology. She is geeky enough to have her favorite soil bacteria.