Mataro Made Easy

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Here’s a quick run-down of the little-known variety known as Mataro or Mourvedre

  • It is a red grape with thick skin, which means it makes full-bodied wine, often with a lot of tannin
  • It is most often found in a GSM blend (with Grenache and Shiraz)
  • It is also known as Mourvedre (in which case the GSM blend may stand for Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre)
  • Wine growing regions in southern France are responsible for this variety's popularity as a blending component, together with Shiraz and Grenache
  • It contributes tannin and colour to the typical GSM blend
  • Flavours associated with it include plums, cherries, sometimes even raspberry lollies and Ribena-like aromas
  • It is named after the town of Mataro near Barcelona in Spain
  • It is thought to have been brought to Spain by the Phoenicians around 500 BC
  • It was one of the earliest varieties planted in Australia
  • It was used mainly for fortified wine (e.g. Port-style) in Australia until the popularity of GSM blends grew during the past 20 years
  • Much of the Mataro vines were removed from Australia in the 80s, but the Barossa Valley now contains most of the oldest plantings
  • The Barossa Valley is a good place to grow Mataro as it has a hot and dry growing season (this really brings out the best in the variety)
  • It has 99 other names (which will not be listed here!)
  • It will generally age well for 5-15 years, but can often be enjoyed upon release (usually around 2 years after vintage)
  • The single variety bottles of Mataro are not usually cheap (around $30-$40), but worth a try if you find one
  • An excellent example of a great-value Grenache Shiraz Mataro blend is the Turkey Flat Butcher's Block Shiraz Grenache Mataro, which is available for under $20.
  • The best GSM blends will generally be found from Barossa Valley vineyards (mostly from very old vines which adds to their depth and complexity). 

Hopefully this has given you a quick overview of the mysterious Mataro gape variety – especially good as a winter warmer!