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Neyers Vineyards Bruce's Journal

Neyers 2021 Mourvèdre

By Bruce Neyers

Friday 26th April, 2024


It took me a while to fall in love with Mourvèdre, but now it’s one of my favorite wines. The many bottlings of Mourvèdre in our cellar naturally complement a wide range of foods. Their ability to improve over time makes them especially attractive. Our first bottling of Neyers Mourvèdre, in 1996, came from a small parcel near Oakley, just west of the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta, in northeastern Contra Costa County. The vines were over 100 years-old, and planted on their own roots. Over time we searched out other sources of Mourvèdre in northern California – and found vineyards from Mendocino County in the north, El Dorado County in the east, and San Luis Obispo County in the south. Wines from each region had their singular charms, and winemaker Tadeo Borchardt displayed a steady and talented hand with the variety. I became our biggest fan, after Barbara.


We ferment Mourvèdre retaining 100% of the stems. This adds an aromatic element we call ‘rusticity’. We use an open-top fermentation tank, then crush the grapes by foot, using the tradition French technique of pigeage, to avoid breaking stems. We ferment with the native, wild-yeast, trapped on the skins as the grapes ripen. The fermentation lasts about 45 days, then the tank is drained and pressed. The new wine is racked to 60-gallon neutral French-oak barrels, and aged one year, for natural clarification. We neither fine nor filter at bottling. The aroma at first seems like a cross between a ripe persimmon and a black truffle. With time, it develops more exotic fruit tones and a comfortable sense of earthy minerality. My daughter Lizzie – a Mourvèdre fan — once remarked that the aroma reminded her of the leather saddle room at the Hermès store in Paris.


Barbara approaches every bottle of Mourvèdre with enthusiasm. Her recipe for this colorful and delicious appetizer of bell peppers with fresh mozzarella comes from a dish we experienced ten years ago, at a restaurant in Cassis, on the Mediterranean Coast near Bandol. We later tasted a slightly different version in a Corsican Restaurant in Paris, and Barbara combined the two, then added her own touch. With a composed salad or a hot soup on the side, it could serve as a full meal.


Roasted Pepper Salad



  • 1 each red, orange, and yellow bell pepper
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • Mixed olives (Nicoise, Kalamata, Picholine), with pits removed
  • Diamond Crystal Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Arugula, for garnish




1. Place bell peppers directly on the flame of a burner on a gas stove. Let the skins blister and blacken. Turn with tongs to ensure the entire pepper is evenly blackened. Set aside.
2. Once the peppers are cooled, cut them in half from top to bottom and remove seeds and membrane.
3. Using a knife, scrape away the blackened skin. It’s best not to rinse the peppers. Wipe off char that cannot be removed using a knife.
4. Cut the pepper into long ½-inch wide strips. Place the strips in a bowl and season lightly with Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.
5. Mix the balsamic vinegar and olive oil together and set aside.
6. Arrange the pepper strips on a platter, alternating red, yellow and orange strips. Top with slices of mozzarella.
7. Drizzle a portion of the vinaigrette on top of the peppers and mozzarella.
8. Toss the arugula with the remaining vinaigrette.
9. Arrange the arugula around the peppers and mozzarella and place olives on the top of the mozzarella.

Mourvèdre is also known as Mataro. This parcel is in the Evangelho Vineyard, south of Oakley, in northeastern Contra Costa County. The photo looks to the northwest, towards the Carquinez Strait. These own-rooted vines were planted in 1888, and yield a crop now that is often only one ton per acre. The soil is a deep bed of sand, preventing the growth of phylloxera, hence the vines are long-lived.

A colorful assortment of bell peppers — roasted and skinned — with fresh Mozzarella, pitted olives, arugula, and a favorite olive oil fills the kitchen with enough Provençal style that a bottle of Mourvèdre is almost essential.

My favorite dish with Mourvèdre is leg of spring lamb, the way it was prepared by the late Lulu Peyraud of Domaine Tempier. Lulu would suspend the leg from the top of the wood-burning fireplace in her kitchen, and the heat from the fire would cause the leg to rotate slowly as it cooked. The drippings were caught in a pan below the leg of lamb. We lost Lulu in 2020. She was 102.

The end post marking the start of the Mourvèdre Vineyard at Evangelho identifies the variety, the size and spacing, with some other planting data. The clusters here are just about to ‘flower’, as self-pollination is called.

In addition to having a great grape harvest last year, we had the largest — and best quality — Fuyu Persimmon harvest ever. We have two trees on our ranch, and Barbara will typically make a persimmon salad, using six to ten of them. This year, the birds and other wildlife on the property are enjoying more than their normal share.

Neyers Vineyards Mourvedre label