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The deep, savoury hum of mataro is often the perfect foil to fruit-driven shiraz and high-toned grenache, the reason this variety – thought to be Spanish in origin but most notably from the Rhône and Southern France – performs so well in a blend. Now, winemakers across the land are taming its tannins and celebrating its hauntingly earthy, gamey aromatics – if not occasionally inspired by the rustic wines of Bandol then always exhibiting a distinct regional touch. We blind-tasted two dozen Aussie and international examples, finding wines of great intrigue and drinkability. Here is our top 12, in no particular order.  

2021 LS Merchants Wholebunch Mataro, Margaret River, A$45
This isn’t a variety typically associated with Margaret River but Dylan Arvidson and Taryn Hogan aren’t here to play the regular game. 100% whole bunches, it’s bright and fragrant with musk, stalky herbs, raspberry and sweet florals. Vibrant and earthy but very clean-cut.

2021 Seppeltsfield Barossa Mataro, Barossa Valley, A$27  
This is unmistakably Barossan with its notes of fresh-ground coffee and fruits of the forest, but boysenberry yoghurt, tapenade and tilled earth characters take it on an unexpected, slightly more exotic course. It’s both fleshy  and refreshing with great tannin structure.  

2019 Aphelion The Emergent Mataro, McLaren Vale, A$35
A wonderfully complex and energetic example from day-to-day grenache hero Rob Mack. Black fruits intertwine with bresaola, cherry stone and graphite-like mineral acidity. In some ways, it feels more like Cru Beaujolais than McLaren Vale. A real experience.

2019 Domaine Tempier Cuvée Classique, Bandol, France, A$85
Arguably the Old World benchmark for mourvèdre, bolstered by small amounts of grenache and cinsault. Dense black fruit, raspberry and liquorice aromas with a subtle ‘barnyard’ note (this is Tempier, after all). It’s deep and saline with sheets of fine, velvet-like tannin; perhaps not the wild (often brett-infested) Tempier of old but damn, it is good.

2021 Poppelvej Zoonotic Spillover, McLaren Vale, A$33
Just on the borderline between a rosé and a light red, this juicy number is bright with blackcurrant flavours, zippy acidity and surprisingly serious tannin structure. Pinot-esque in a way, but a totally singular example.

2018 John Duval Wines Annexus Mataro, Barossa Valley, A$70
This is a strikingly beautiful wine. It’s medium- to full-bodied and brooding, with tar, blackcurrant and coffee grounds. A refreshing thread of acidity makes way for ripe, chewy Barossa tannins. Balance and class.  

2020 Vanguardist Blewitt Springs Mourvèdre, McLaren Vale, A$56
Michael Corbett’s grenache wines have achieved cult status in recent years but this is equally worth seeking out. Violets, fresh red berries, meaty notes and a deep graphite minerality with plum skin-like tannins.  

2020 Yelland & Papps Second Take Mataro, Barossa Valley, A$45
The Second Take wines always offer an interesting perspective on the Barossa staples. Notes of cherry cola and damp earth, dried spices and black fruits. Lightly chill for the most rewarding experience.  

2018 Hewitson Old Garden Mourvèdre, Barossa Valley, A$88
From the world’s oldest mataro vines, Hewitson’s Old Garden is the variety’s Australian yardstick. It’s dense and rich with cassis, red fruits, pepper and violets; full-bodied and intense with an old-school feel.

2021 Condie Estate Schoolhouse Lane Mataro, Heathcote, A$35
A great approachable example from Heathcote stalwarts Richie and Rosanne Condie. Black fruits and deep floral notes; cola and black cherries. It’s zippy and vibrant with super fine tannins – and positively food-friendly.

2018 La Violetta Bloodshot, Western Australia, A$35
A deliciously wild, modern blend of mataro and shiraz here. Charcuterie, alpine herbs and brambly notes render it aromatically complex but it’s fine and free on the palate. Pink salt acidity and finely etched tannins. Excellent.

2019 Tim Smith Wines Mataro, Barossa Valley, A$42
Pours deep, dark and dense. Inky black plum, iodine, menthol and raspberry aromas lead to a fleshy yet lithe palate; salty and cool with fresh acidity and peppery tannins. A great example from one of the masters.