Mourvedre Wines will move you

Mourvedre is one of those wines that wind up in the back of a country’s list of popular wines with maybe a couple of paragraphs. Like Aglianico in the Campania District of Italy, Mourvedre tends to get lost and labeled as a blending grape with its more-well-known companion in the south of France, Grenache. Although Grenache would be my first choice for a worldwide breakout, lip-smacking sultry Mourvedre (pronounced more-vehd-ruh) with its rich, visceral taste, could very well be the next big thing in the southern Rhone Valley. 
Talk to Ted Plemons, a partner at Cass Vineyard and Winery in the Paso Robles district in the Central Coast of California, and he will underline that prediction. “We bottled the 2008 Mourvedre in January of last year and it surprised us how fast it sold out at $38 a bottle,” he said. 
At the recent Family Winemakers of California event in Del Mar, he unveiled a large box container with a faucet that was filled with a blend called Flying Nymph. This sultry combination is the essence of southern Rhone, with Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache. The vintage is 2009 so it’s still flying around with ripe cherry, strawberry and currants.
A 750 ML bottle is $12.50 and the box, which is 18 liters of wine, goes for $100. That means with a 4-ounce pour, you could get 124 pours. The fruit is all estate and made by the Cass winemaker.
Just to set the record straight, Mourvedre is really native to Spain where it is called Monastrell and second to Granache (Garnacha in Spain) in importance. It was brought to the south of France in the 19th century and shortly after, found its way to California where there is now about 400 acres grown.
Mourvedre seems to balance out at 15 percent alcohol. It is a late-ripening varietal that loves heat and produces high sugar. Tablas Creek is another Paso Robles vineyard that focuses on Mourvedre and the Chateauneuf-du-Pape southern French style of winemaking. Their version has very thick skins and dark-as-night coloration, typically picked in November.  Their club member price is $28.
Find out more about Cass at casswines.com. The Tablas Creek website is tablascreek.com.
Firefly revisited
Jim Barrasso, the cordial restaurateur of Firefly, that anchors the string of comfortable wine bar-restaurants along the El Camino Real Corridor in Encinitas, recently introduced his new chef with a Ferrari-Carano paired wine dinner. Paul Rinaudo, now creating entrees for Firefly, came from the Gaslamp San Diego, J-Six Restaurant. 
On this night, his main course was a Roast Pork Prime Rib that matched up with one of my Top Ten Wines from last year, the Ferrari-Carano Tresor 2007 Bordeaux style blend from the Alexander Valley in Sonoma ($58) Firefly’s next event is the Tolosa Winery dinner on April 20. Check out others as well at fireflygrillandwinebar.com, or call (760) 635-1066.
Wine Bytes
— Bacchus Wine Market  in the Gaslamp Downtown San Diego has all new releases from 4 to 8:30 p.m. March 25. Try seven for $15. Call (619) 236-0005 for details.
— Meritage Wine Market has a lineup of “tooth-stainin’ reds for you to try from 4 to 7 p.m. March 25 for $20. RSVP at (760) 479-2500.
— Vigilucci’s Seafood and Steakhouse in Carlsbad at the beach has an Antinori Italian Foie Gras Wine Dinner at 6:30 p.m. March 25. Wines include the prestigious Bolgheri Super Tuscan 2007 and the Tuscan Brunello Di Montalcino 2005. Don’t miss this. Cost is $120 per person. Call (760) 434-2580 to reserve.
— San Diego Wine Company has a Saturday tasting from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. March 26. It’s all Italian wines for $10 each. Call (858) 586-9463 for details.
— San Diego’s newest winery is Lenora Winery in Ramona. Every Saturday and Sunday five wines are poured from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., including a souvenir wine glass. Call (760) 788-1388 for details.

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