In France, the names Mourvdre, Mourvedon, Mourves, Movede, and Mourveze that are used in Provencerelate to the color of the grape, as do the names Negron, Negre Trinchere or Trinchiera in the Drome. In Spain, it is called Monastrell and Mataro. The name Mourvede is derived from the town of Murviedro in Valencia and the name Motaro is derived from the town of Mataro in Catalonia. The grape was brought to France in the 16th century and arrived inCalifornia in the 1860’s. Mourvedre breaks bud late and requires considerable heat to adequately ripen, thus it does well in our hotter climate. New vineyards planted in high density seem to be very productive with yields of 5 to 6 tons per acre. Mourvedre is used to make concentrated brick-red wines with strong tannic structure and is great for blending. Mourvedre provides structure, backbone and aging potential. It tastes of ripe plum and strawberry, with animal flavors of red meat and mushrooms when young, and leather and truffles as it ages. Mourvedre grapes have a dark purple-black color.
Syrah or Shiraz
Our clone is a Shiraz FPS 07. The true origin of Syrah has been shown through DNA testing to be a cross between two French varieties, Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche. Dureza is an obscure black variety and Mondeuse Blanche is a minor white variety, both of northern Rhone origin. Syrah is very vigorous with a spreading growth habit and a tendency to produce long, trailing shoots. A versatile variety, Syrah is well adapted to a wide range of viticulture temperature regions, winery uses and wine styles. It has good blending qualities with deep color and is not overly tannic with fruity aromas, producing many popular blends. Syrah provides firm tannin and aromatics, as well as blackberry and currant fruit. It tastes of smoke, tar, and black pepper. Shiraz has an intense dark blood red color.
A French nurseryman by the name of Durif first propagated the variety in the 1880s in the RhoneValley. Recent DNA research at UC Davis indicates Durif to be a cross between Syrah and Peloursin. In California it is mostly known as Petitie Sirah. The vines are moderately vigorous and relatively weeping. The fruit tends to sunburn and raisin, therefore canopy management is very important. Durif produces a full - bodied red wine with deep color and long aging potential. It is often used as a blending wine to add color and body to lighter red wines.
Historians have long debated where this varietal originated, but recent DNA testing has it found in Croatiafrom an obscure variety called “Crljenak Kasteljanski”.
The variety is most likely a selection from Northern Spain, but some believe that is originated in Southern France as a natural hybrid of Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. Tempranillo seems to grow well where Zinfandel does well. Vine appearance is very similar to Zinfandel however it is very resistant to bunch rot, fruit color is better and the grapes develop more uniformly. Acid level will be low and PH marginally high in warm climates. Tempranillo produces excellent quality wines with good color at lower crop levels, particularly on steep, rocky soils. It is a great stand alone varietal and is good for blending.
A classic white Northern Rhone varietal, Marsanne vines have a spreading habit with high vigor, and is susceptible to powdery mildew and bunch rot. It produces wines with distinct melon and mineral flavors and rich mouth feel. Marsanne produces an early harvest from mid September to early October. The berries are golden and medium size when ripe. The varietal has a proclivity for absorbing the mineral flavors of the soils in which it is grown and fermenting in stainless steel showcases these qualities. It produces wine with a light straw color, almost green with moderate acidity and excellent mid-palate richness. Its mineral flavors and aromas make it an ideal blending grape usually blended with Rousanne and Viognier.
The variety’s origin is uncertain. Since the 18th century it has been known in southwestern France. Malbec is a minor variety in Bordeaux. It is a vigorous variety adaptable to a wide range of soil types. Clone selection is very important for this variety as many will produce poor fruit set. Malbec is usually used in small amounts to blend into Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot wines. As a varietal, it makes a softer red wine with limited ageing potential but very high quality.
The origin is Medoc in southwest France. The vines are medium to high vigor with adaptability to both cool to warm regions. Harvest is late September to late October. Petite Verdot is mostly blended with other Bordeauxvarieties for color, tannin and complexity, but is often produced as a single varietal wine in California.
Viognier’s origin is the Northern Rhone Valley. It is highly aromatic, with a nose of peach, apricot and violets. In California, it produces richer, more tropical wines, often low on acidity. The vine has low to moderate vigor. In Franceit is planted on steep slopes. Viognier is an early ripener, similar to Chardonnay. It is sometimes blended with Syrah to give the wine more fragrance, elegance and a darker color. Some French Chateau Viogniers are considered to be among the best and most expensive white wines in the world.
Roussanne’s origin is also from the Rhone Valley in France. The varietal takes its name from “roux”, the French word for “russet”- an apt description of the grapes reddish gold skins at harvest. The vines are moderate in growth, and produce early bud break and ripening. Roussanne needs a sunny dry climate to ripen. It has a reputation as a difficult varietal to grow. Wines made from Roussanne are rich and complex, with distinct honey, floral and apricot flavors. Fermentation in French oak provides a structured richness and enhances the rich texture of the wine, while stainless steel emphasizes the minerality of the wine and heightens the floral aromas. Unlike most white wines, Roussanne ages very well due to its unusual combination of richness and balancing acids, and can be enjoyed up to 15 years after bottling. In France, Rousanne is usually blended with Marsanne or Grenache Blanc. Roussanne is also blended with Syrah in France to soften tannins and intensity.
Picpoul Blanc is one of the lesser Rhone varietals, but with a tremendous future in California. Literally translating to “lip stinger”, Picpoul Blanc produces wines know in France for their bright acidity, minerality, and clean lemony favor. Native to the Languedoc region. It is not a difficult variety to grow, bud break is early and it ripens relatively late; usually the end of October in California. In California, Picpoul maintains its bright acidity and develops an appealing tropical lushness, a rich mouth feel and a long finish that is delicious on its own but also an excellent blending component with other white Rhone varietals.
Grenache Blanc produces rich, full wines with bright flavors and crisp acidity. The nose has bright green apple and mandarin orange aromas with clean flavors of more green apples, mineral and touch of peach. It has a long lingering finish. As the name suggests it is related to the more widely know Grenache Noir. It is drought -resistant, vigorous, easy to graft and ripens fairly early. Grenache Blanc originated in Spain and still plays a role in the wines of Rioja and Navarre. Grenache Blanc shows well even when highly chilled as most restaurants seem to serve white wines. Although it can stand alone on its own, its crispness and long finish make it a tremendous blending component.
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