Mourvèdre qualifies as one of the most incognito classic red grape varieties. Sturdy, aromatic and bursting with dark red-berry flavors, it’s largely an anonymous blending partner. It’s the most impactful ingredient in many high-quality Châteauneufs-du-Pape and other southern Rhône reds, as well as the backbone of Bandol from Provence. But it also makes sumptuous varietal wine in Spain, where it’s known as Monastrell, or in California, where it often goes under the name Mataro. Originating in Alicante, in southeastern Spain, it is a thick-skinned red grape that thrives in hot climates and, in fact, doesn’t taste fully ripe until sugars approach potential alcohol levels of 15 percent. These three are right at home alongside traditional feasts on your holiday dinner table.
Tarima Hill Old Vines Monastrell, Alicante, 2012
Spain remains the best place on earth today for delicious, reasonably priced red wine. A stunner in the deep-value category that tastes at least twice as expensive as its price, this Tarima Hill bottle should satisfy almost any red wine lover. Alicante’s vineyards experience vast day/night temperature differentials during the summer, promoting bold, ripe flavors as well as structure.
This big-boy red has a peppery, wild juicy quality, with notes of mocha, clove and licorice. Enjoy it with pork or with duck.
$18, The Wine & Cheese Cask, Somerville
Cline Ancient Vines MourvÈdre, Contra Costa, 2013
Hailing from vineyards that aren’t far from San Francisco, this is a meaty, flavorful and serious red with intriguing bay leaf, tobacco, floral and blueberry scents. Some jammy black-fruit notes and grippy tannins allow this brash California wine to stand up to that most American of holiday dishes, roast turkey.
$14, Cambridge Wine & Spirits
Artadi El Sequé, Alicante, 2010
Also from the birthplace of the grape, this is a lavishly flavored old-vine cuvee made by Rioja specialist Vina Artadi. It’s powerful and smoky, with savory herb and gamey notes, but the lingering impression is a combination of lush black cherry and blackberry fruit. With an estimated evolution of 10 to 12 years, this is still very young, but—if decanted and left to sit for an hour—it can be enjoyed now as a delicious counterpoint to the holiday roast.
$42, Boston Wine Exchange
Sandy Block is a master of wine and the vice president of beverage operations for Legal Sea Foods.