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Same grape, different names

Gérard Bertrand is famous for his organic and biodynamic wines (Photograph supplied)

You might call this grape mourvèdre if you are referring to its use in France, or monastrell in Spain, and if you find yourself in California or Australia you quite likely would say mataro.

This thick-skinned grape is known for its extreme colour and strong tannins, in fact the French sometimes jokingly refer to it as étrangle-chien (dog strangler). Don’t let that put you off though, as I am about to mention a few lovely wines that include it in their production.

Casa Rojo Bodega y Viñedos was founded in Spain in 2009 by Jose Luis Gómez and his wife Laura Muñoz-Rojo, with the goal of making high-class wines. He says of his winery team: “We know that individually we are just drops. Together we are an ocean.”

We lead off with their 2019 Casa Rojo Machoman Monastrell from Jumilla, a small region on the south east coast. The name they give it aptly represents the black cherries, plums, and ripe forest berries with hints of cinnamon, cloves, balsamic, dark chocolate, and anise that you just might detect. This hearty wine is just waiting for a very flavourful meat dish or a hard cheese. $35 (Stock #9361).

Without doubt, one of our planet’s finest rosé wines is from Domaine Tempier, and we have their 2021 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé that is a certified organic blend of mourvèdre, grenache and cinsault. Parker’s Wine Advocate, which once called it the finest rosé in the world, has this to say about their 2021: “Not included in the blind tasting at the local syndicat, Tempier's 2021 Bandol Rosé nevertheless looked good when I tasted it at the estate. It's a very fine, elegant example of Bandol rosé, with notes of passion fruit and pink grapefruit leading the way in a tightly-knit, medium-bodied package that adds promising hints of white peach and anise on the lingering finish. 93/100.”

The Wine Spectator came in with 92/100 and this: “Tightly coiled and dense, this is still inviting and begins to unfurl with time in the glass. This has a beautiful range to the ripe red berry and sweet currant flavours, which are set against savoury, salty, fine-grained mineral and crushed dried thyme accents. A stunning rosé that's built to last. Mourvèdre, grenache and cinsault.” $36.55 (Stock #7076).

The 2018 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge Cuvee Classique is an organic blend of 75 per cent mourvèdre along with grenache, cinsault and carignan. There is something about the dark, inky mourvèdre, plus the salty sea air caressing the vines every night, that typifies classic Bandol. This wine is complete, and ready to serve, cooled down a touch. Critic James Suckling has this to say, “Aromas of dark fruit with plums, blackberries, and some iron and black cherries. Bark, too. Full to medium body with concrete undertones to the dark fruit. Delicate centre palate but finishes creamy and flavourful with light chewiness and dusty texture. Drink now.” $41.70 (Stock #7921).

This is what respected Canadian writer Natalie MacLean has to say about 2018 Gérard Bertrand Corbières: “91/100. Gérard Bertrand 2018 grenache, syrah, mourvèdre is a full-bodied and silky GSM from the Corbières, Languedoc wine region. Supple and smooth on the palate with ripe dark fruit, blueberry, plum, cedar brush and smoky pepper spice flavours vibrant on the palate. Drinking beautifully now but could easily cellar for two to three years. Enjoy with a sausage and bean casserole. Grenache, syrah, mourvèdre food pairings: meat lover's pizza, chicken mole, roast duck.” $24.50 (Stock #7294).

Gerard Bertrand's wines show off the unique character of microclimates throughout the South of France. His 2018 Château L’Hospitalet Grand Vin La Clape biodynamic wine is sourced from his estate, Chateau l’Hospitalet, nestled in the heart of the rocky massif of La Clape in the Languedoc. The La Clape appellation is a 600-foot-high limestone plateau that was once an island in ancient times and is now part of a nature preserve. The cooling effects of the sea and altitude allow the grapes to ripen fully but slowly, retaining excellent balance. Gerard Bertrand farms all these vineyards biodynamically. Decanter Magazine scored this wine 95 points saying, "Fabulous smoky liquorice, molasses and tar contrast beautifully with lush bright fruit characters; enticing and persistent with a mouth-watering texture and a long, powerful finish."

James Suckling scored it 93/100 saying, "Black fruit, smoke, bay leaves and black olives on the nose with spicy undertones. Full-bodied, textured, and structured, with firm tannins. Rather complex on the palate with a core of black fruit and a savoury finish with length. A blend of syrah, grenache and mourvèdre. From biodynamically grown grapes with Demeter certification. Drink or hold." $49.90 (Stock #7284).

Wily readers will know that Gigondas can challenge Chateauneuf du Pape in style and quality, but at a lower price. Take, for instance, 2016 Laurence Feraud Gigondas that hails from Domaine du Pégau, a great producer of “the Pope’s wine”. Critic Jeb Dunnuck writes, “I was also able to taste the 2016 Gigondas from Laurence, and it’s another terrific, incredibly Provençal wine. Spiced red and black fruits, sandalwood, and pepper make up the bulk of the aromatics, and it hits the palate with medium to full body, a ripe, rounded mouthfeel, and a great finish. I’d happily drink a bottle." This is a blend of syrah, grenache and mourvèdre. $35 (Stock #7911).

The winery describes their 2020 Chapoutier Gigondas Les Jocasses as “having beautiful, graceful chord sound shades of berries and fruit interwoven with hints of tobacco, pepper and smoke” and, they even add, “naughty touches of ground pepper and leather combined with woody nuances that give the wine a special noble charm and elegance”. Do you get it? I am not sure if I do, but I have always trusted Michael Chapoutier to be a dedicated and very talented maker of fine wine. His Gigondas are constantly a treat. $39.50 (Stock #9424).

This column is a paid for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. written by Michael Robinson. He can be contacted at mrobinson@bll.bm. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East. 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits are available online at www.wineonline.bm.

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Published February 24, 2023 at 7:49 am (Updated February 24, 2023 at 7:49 am)

Same grape, different names

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