Though best known today for its presence in southern France, this red-wine grape is Spain's second most widely planted red variety after grenache, and is called Monastrell in that country. Mourvèdre produces good-quality, garnet-colored wines with spicy, peppery characteristics. They can, however, be a bit tannic and hard and are at their best when blended with other grape varieties. In red winessuch as those from côtes du rhône and châteauneuf-de-papeMourvèdre is used to improve color and structure. Although there's recently been renewed interest in California, only small amounts of this variety are currently grown in California and Australia, where it's also known as Mataro.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.