What is Mataro Wine?
Hot climates are required to grow Mataro grapes as well as plenty of water. Mataro is often used to make blended red wine, fortified wine and rosé. There are also some very fine examples of single-varietal Mataro wines from South Australia and New South Wales. The history and origins of the grape are uncertain but it is generally associated with Spain where the Mataro grape, known as Monastrell, is one of the most widely planted varietals.
In Australia, Mataro has been a workhorse grape used as an unnamed component in blended cask wine and port-style fortified wines. Some Australian winemakers have begun to label wines as Mourvèdre, to take advantage of the popularity of the grape under its French name. Australian winemakers have had success with the highly popular blend of Grenache Shiraz Mataro or ‘GSM’ following the Rhône-style blends.
One of the most en vogue styles of wine in Australia is GSM. The style follows that of the of blended wines from Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Rhône region of France. Winemakers in Australia have achieved commercial and critical success with the GSM blend. This label stands for ‘Grenache Shiraz Mataro’ or ‘Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre’ depending on the marketing position of the winemaker. Brands like Grant Burge, Penfolds, Torbreck, Henschke are all in on the GSM trend as well as John Duval and Rockford; a pioneer of the GSM blend.
Common Mataro Wine characteristics
Mataro wine is medium to full-bodied with a dark purple colour. On the nose there will be herbal notes as well as spice, licorice and leather. Dark fruits like plums and dark cherries are apparent on the palate with an obvious savoury presence with spice and leather. The firm tannic structure makes Mataro an excellent blending partner to add weight to Grenache. Notable producers of Mataro include McGuigan, Soul Growers, Woods Crampton, Rusden and the excellent Caillard.
Pairing food with Mataro Wine
Mataro is a great match for duck but it will also pair well with a beef stew. Barbecued red meats will match well with the tannins in the wine, as will char-grilled Portobello mushrooms or meaty sausages. A rich beef pie will also take advantage of the tannins in Mataro wine. GSM, being fruitier, will match with a Sunday slow-roasted shoulder of lamb or char-grilled steak.
Both Mataro and GSM will work well with goat’s milk cheeses. The straight Mataro tannins and herbs will match the grassiness of the goat’s milk cheese where the fruitier GSM will delight in the lightness of the cheese.
Notable Mataro Wine regions
Mataro, known as Monastrell in Spain, is widely planted in the country’s eastern wine regions. Mataro is used in red blends in controlled regional wines as well as in table wines throughout Spain. Some of the best Mataro wines come from Alicante and Jumilla with fine and accessible examples from winemakers such as Alma de Casa in Yecla.
The southern Rhône region of France is warm enough to satisfy the heat requirements of the Mataro grape which is known locally as Mourvèdre. Mataro grapes are mostly used in red blends and are most famously a constituent part in those from the controlled region of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
James Busby introduced Mataro to Australia in the 1830's. Both New South Wales and South Australia produce GSM to a high standard. Though the greatest volume of big name GSM's come from South Australia, particularly the Barossa Valley.
The future of Mataro Wine
Mataro is increasingly recognised for the value it brings to Australian winemaking. The popularity has brought with it a branding conundrum with some winemakers using the French name Mourvèdre for the varietal and shedding any negative historical association with the grape. The three-letter-acronym adroitly gets around any confusion or difficulties with pronunciation of grape varietal. Given this and the flavour profile, GSM continues to grow in popularity in Australian and international markets.