On Friday afternoon, I was very fortunate to be invited to participate in a blind tasting of Tempranillo. Well, it wasn't quite that way, I really just tagged along with Vinomaker whose presence at the tasting had actually been requested. The tasting was being hosted by a winemaker friend of Vinomaker's who has two vintages of a Napa Valley Tempranillo in barrel, a 2010 and now a 2011, but doesn't know quite what to do with it now that he has it. Therefore, the objective of the tasting was to get to know Tempranillo, discover the characteristics of this grape cultivar originating from Spain. Seven wines from various wine-growing regions, foreign and domestic, were up for evaluation so I dove in, nose first!
Growing up in England, I always liked the odd bottle of Rioja (wine from the Rioja region of northern Spain renowned for red wines predominantly made from the Tempranillo grape), as a nice alternative to the Bardolinos and Chiantis I generally preferred. So, being semi-familiar with this wine varietal's flavour profiles I had some preconceived expectations going into the tasting; strawberry, plum, licorice, acidity, minerality and well structured tannins.
The number 2 wine in the lineup was corked, so it was immediately disqualified. All the wines displayed many of the characteristics that I was anticipating, including the deep garnet hue one would expect from this grape variety. One wine was a little thin. One wine was a little reductive. One wine was too oaky, whilst another was too tannic (vintages varied from 2006s to 2009s and the tannic wine was a 2009).
At the conclusion of the tasting the scores we had given each wine were tallied up...and there was no real winner. Although, of the seven of us tasting, three (me included) chose as our favourite the Dare 2008 Tempranillo from Viader (retail price $40.00). It was, overall, a beautifully balanced wine with sublime acidity, nuances of baked plum and rhubarb tart, a hint of sweet vanilla-oak and the deepest red-purple, eye-pleasing countenance one could ever hope for in a glass of red wine. Yum!
Towards the end of the tasting the talk, somewhat predictably, veered towards pricing strategy and the subsequent marketing of the as yet unfinished wine (the winemaker now had a lot to ruminate on, whereas my, and Vinomaker's, job was done). Marketing phrases like branding, demand-pull, price points, profit margins and loss-leaders were bandied about the room (there were two CPAs in attendance) and it was all way over my head, so I just poured myself some more wine.
Cheers to the noble variety of Spain, Tempranillo.