2017 Halcon Vineyards, Mourvèdre, Halcon Estate Vineyard, Yorkville Highlands, Mendocino County.
The unbelievable and thrilling dark and spicy Halcon 100% Mourvèdre , which Paul Gordon crafted from his own tiny parcel at the Halcon Estate at 2,500 feet up above Mendocino’s Yorkville Highlands, one of California’s most dramatic terroirs, makes for an exceptional and extreme example of this grape. These conditions with the elevation and cool long growing season make for a big challenge for Gordon, known for his fantastic Syrah, who says – at times it feels like he and wife Jackie have to spend more time nurturing the one acre of Mourvèdre than the rest of our 15 acres combined! Mourvèdre ripens very late, but seems to thrive on the meager topsoil over the broken shales and schist allowing transparent flavors, slightly lower natural alcohol with this vintage coming in at just 12.5%, plus it shows delicate floral notes and mineral tones. This 2017, a warm year, gave Gordon some fabulous fruit and he made the most of that gift from nature with this limited bottling of Mourvèdre that shows loads of black fruit, whole bunch crunch, peppercorns, violets and a light gamy note led by blackberry, black cherry, mulberry and plum preserves along with tangy herbal essences, sandalwood and grilled fennel. This medium to full bodied and with fresh acidity along with fairly firm, but fine grained tannins, it is a wine very much in the house style, so those like me that love their Syrah will be wonderfully excited by this northern Rhone style (unique for Mourvèdre) wine, which is more Cornas in style, rather than Bandol, maybe the greatest region for this grape.
The Mourvèdre vines here are maybe some of the rarest, in this location, being what could be the coldest area with this varietal in the world, with Halcon’s temperatures, as Paul notes, closely matching what Ampuis or Côte Rôtie historically sees in average, meaning that these vines are on the very edge of ripeness for Mourvèdre, which means lots of tender love and care or hard work! In order to ensure fruit maturity the Gordon’s prune their Mourvèdre rows back to 3-4 spurs per plant, which leads to just eight or so clusters per individual vine. That said, in 2017, yields were such that Halcon was able to do a single varietal bottling, and it turned out fantastic. Usually all the Mourvèdre goes into their GSM Esquisto, which has a ratio of close to 20% Mourvèdre in the blend. The 100% Mourvèdre, came in at 22.1 brix and was picked in mid October, early for Halcon, which can see November pick dates. Gordon used a healthy 50% whole-cluster fermentation with good extraction and what was a high level of stem inclusion for Mourvèdre, which shows in the wine’s dynamic and vivacious personality, texture and an earthy/leathery edginess or tension on the intriguing palate. The Halcon Mourvèdre was aged over a year in neutral French 500L puncheons and, like all of Paul’s wines, it was fermented with native yeasts and saw a gentle regime of hand pilage. Just 70 cases were produced, so it will sell out fast, though the 2018 should be available soon, it should be easily as good or better considering the high quality of the vintage, and as I say every time I review one of these wines, it is highly recommended that wine enthusiasts join this mailing list.
($35 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive