Mourvédre, or Monastrell as it’s called in Spain, is a grape we don’t usually get to enjoy without accompanying grapes—like a good friend who never rolls alone.
Very important as a blending associate in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and other Rhône blends and accessible for a good price out of Spain, especially the Jumilla region, with its new-age, contemporary wines and labels that perform very well at parties. I can only recall trying one other 100% Mourvédre wine from California—an Ancient Vines from Cline. Where the Cline steers more toward the Spanish model in concentration and intensity, Bonny Doon’s Old Telegram no doubt skews Rhône.
Far from tannic, not a hint of alcoholic heat, and very subtle game and pepper flavors. Just when I thought I was gaining on the varietal characteristics of Mourvédre, I realize why I have 200 pounds of wine books: because vino is friggin’ complicated, and there are ten times as many exceptions to the rules than actual rules. But that’s the fun part.
I would describe this wine as gentle, but not weak. Peace through strength. Nothing out of place—nothing overdone, overindulged, overexposed, overly complicated, or overly oaken (oaken? apparently it’s time to add oaked to the spell check).
Almost a decade old, the ’01 Old Telegram appears healthy—not a hint of sediment, nowhere near candle colonoscopy age—polished, and surprisingly transparent, flushed with red tones. It’s just starting to pick up a hint of rusty rose tones. From the notebook:
Incredible nose—engaging and involved. Cherries and blackberries upfront, just a hint of dark chocolate. Heavy, rainy minerals, gravel and chalk, which becomes even more apparent on the palate. Fragrant dried floral notes—perhaps violets or lilies.
I had a South African wine recently that would be described as having an earthy quality. To expand upon that I would say: soil. Rich, dark—almost black— Moo Mix, bottom of the compost pile, potting soil. I would also say this wine is earthy—but in a less histrionic fashion. Just a bit dusty, like the smell that hangs in the air when you live on a dirt road. A big difference.
There are times when I really wonder how many of the wines we drink are enjoyed too soon, even less expensive bottles. Lately I feel like hoarder, gathering up those bottles that are just too old for a wine store to sell. They go on sale, and I swoop. I recommend this tactic.
Waiter: Would monsieur care for another bottle of Chateau Latour?
Nathan Johnson: Ah yes, but no more 1966. Let’s splurge! Bring us some fresh wine! The freshest you’ve got – this year! No more of this old stuff.