In an ideal world, I’d be happy with each of my posts, with the amount of effort that went into each and the reward I feel when each is finished. In truth though, I have at times written about wines which didn’t excite me, and which didn’t advance my cause of covering a wealth of different grapes, regions, and producers. However, today I get to write about a new grape and a producer I like, and so I am approaching this post as though the reward is in the writing, not in the having written. And the wine for today is the Barossa Muster M Barossa Valley Mataro 2007.
Grape names are a funny thing. While cultivation of varieties through the use of cuttings rather than seeds has quite ancient origins, the ability to distinguish different varieties, either at the vine or grape level, has only recently (19th century) become a science, Ampelography. It is only more recently still, around 1985 thanks to DNA profiling, that it has become something of an exact science. Prior to that many grape varieties made their way around the world, often picking up local names wherever they settled. I can understand that when varieties change countries, so Pinot Noir of France is Pinot Nero in Italy, but when it went to Germany they dropped the Pinot and called it the late grape from Burgundy, Spätburgunder. In Austria and Switzerland the emphasis is on the fact that it’s a blue grape, so there it is called Blauburgunder. Where it gets particularly confusing though is where the same grape goes by a different name from region to region, or town to town. There are more synonyms for Tempranillo in Spain than you could shake a stick at, and Sangiovese is the same in Italy. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there is an effort to have the grape Prosecco renamed Glera if it is used in wine from outside of the Prosecco regions, which I think is more than a little silly.
This wine is called M because they couldn’t decide if they should go with Mataro, Mouvèdre or Monastrell, though they did go with Mataro on the back label, hence its place in the title of this post. Mataro is the name for the grape associated with Australia, so I’ll stick with it throughout this post, but Mouvèdre is generally how it is known in France where it is found in wines in the south, including Provence, the Rhône, Languedoc and Roussillon. Monastrell is its most common name within Spain.
As a grape, it is red with small berries and thick skins. It needs a great deal of sun and heat to ripen, which it does very late. It has traditionally delivered uneven yields, though clonal selection has helped with that. It delivers high levels of alcohol, tannins and acidity, and is frequently part of a blend with Grenache, both in France and Spain.
Barossa Muster is a producer I know largely through their parent company, Muster Wine & Spirit Co. They produce the Barossa Muster wines and a line of Italian styled wines, but more importantly (to me at least) they distribute a range of wines, most of them brought in from overseas. So the Bogle, Muga, Furst, and Camino Del Inca wines I’ve written about were all distributed by Muster. So was my very first post, the Goats Do Roam, though it doesn’t seem to be in their catalogue at the moment.
Unfortunately, while I do really like Muster, there isn’t a huge amount of information available about the wine production side of their business. They produce five wines under the Barossa Muster label, a Shiraz, a Tempranillo, a fortified Pedro Ximenez, and a fortified tawny, as well as this Mataro. They also have two Allsorts wines, a red and a white, each a blend of few grape varieties available in the Barossa. It appears they buy in their fruit from northern Barossa vineyards from low yielding sites, but there’s not much detail as to the operation so I’m guessing it’s contract made for them.
This is the third wine from the Barossa I’ve covered, so ideally I should have said all there is to say, but looking over my past posts I haven’t really covered the basics. It’s a warm, Mediterranean climate, with little rain during the growing season and relatively mild but often wet winters. Irrigation of vines is common. The area has some of the oldest vines in the world, often over a century and some older still, as South Australia was not hit with phylloxera. While everyone in Barossa claims their vines are on some hillside or another, the valley as a whole is very flat, though some of the surrounding hills are under vine. The soil has low fertility, and ranges from clay loam to a variety of sandy soils. The acidity of the soil increases with depth, which puts a cap on vigor.
While culturally Barossa was settled largely by German immigrants, the grapes and wine styles owe more to the Rhône. Shiraz and Grenache, along with Mataro, form the wines for which the region is best known. While the region has a wide range of varieties under vine, the iconic wine of Australia could be said to be Barossa Shiraz.
That was the grape, producer and region, so all that leaves us is what’s in the glass. It’s clear and bright, with deep ruby colour, purple rim, and thin, pale, purple legs. On the nose it’s clean, developing, with medium plus intensity, and notes of plum/prune, blackberry, sweet spice, some oak and a bit of chocolate. On the palate it’s dry, with high acidity, medium plus alcohol, high mouth coating tannins, medium body, and high flavour intensity. The palate matches the nose with prune, blackberries, and chocolate, as well as some black pepper, and a hint of vanilla on the finish. It has a medium length.
This is very aggressive wine, but of good quality. It’s interesting as a varietal, as I more typically only see Mataro as a contributing player in a blend. I would have guessed Carignan given the attack. It’s pretty overwhelming on its own, but it worked really well with a full-on beef and pepper stew. It absolutely needs food, and I don’t say that often. It’s not a subtle wine. I’d be curious to see if age will teach it any manners, but I did enjoy it as a five year old.
Pin in the map is for their P. O. Box in Tanunda, as I don’t have any other address.