Posted on 09-10-2017
Author: Danny Rodriguez
Mourvedre’ has been a production in both France and Spain. The varietal has been an integral part of a French Rhone blend along with Grenache and Syrah. Its lineage is likely of Spanish origin, where it goes by the name Monastrell. Its inherent gaminess brings layers of character that are balanced by lush fruit and firm tannins. To bring the food pairing full circle, I paired a cranberry chutney glazed game hen with a 2010 Crystal Basin Mourvedre of El Dorado County California.
The Crystal Basin Mourvedre received Best in Class at the 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Tasting and proved to be well deserving of that award. The wine possesses fantastic food pairing capabilities. The game hen worked seamlessly as the wine broke down the fat of the game hen, which in turn, helped the wine to blossom and show all of its character. The herbal gamey expression of the tannins came into focus and integrated with the unique character of the game hen. A key component that was used was the cranberry chutney which served as a bridge that brought food and wine together. It is a small addition but when the hen, chutney, and wine came together, the experience was phenomenal.
Rich wild rice served as the stuffing for the hen and it was a wonderful rustic addition to the pairing. I enjoy a yellow squash and zucchini with fowl, and so both were had, with sautéed mushrooms added to the mix. A wine of balance and age, the Mourvedre worked beautifully. Crystal Basin brought the wine to balance by using some neutral oak in the aging of the wine and let the true character of the grape shine through. Oak was not a major factor in the food pairing, enabling the focus to be the food and wine.
I made sure to decant the wine three hours before service, which was more than enough time for the wine to aerate and for the tannins to soften. The beauty of the wine made the food pairing one to remember. Quality wines that are meant for drinking at an early age, have a structure and acidity well set for food. A wine that is meant to cellar for years, will not have that same sense of balance when young.
Enjoy lighter varietals such as Mourvedre with food, and each will bring you joy.