Sunday, January 15, 2012

A touch of Tempranillo.

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.

11 comments:

Craig Justice said...

Greetings to everyone in Vinoland from London (yes, your home country) where I had a lovely wine tasting of English wines at Artisan & Vine (south of the River Thames). If you're on Twitter you may read all about it @bluemerlewinery or http://www.twitter.com/bluemerlewinery We've been so busy haven't had time to try to see the Archbishop (nor go to church) but at least we caught the last wine tasting before closing. About Tempranillo, that is one of OUR grapes, and it is growing "brilliantly" in San Diego (and tasting good also). Best wishes to Vino Girl, Vino Man and all the Vino fans. If any of them are in London, do let me know, and would be pleased to meet up with them for a pint Monday or Tuesday evening (as I do believe I'm being seduced by English Ale). Cheers mates!

Trish @ Mum's Gone To ... said...

Interesting you should mention Bardolino in this post. We stayed in Bardolino on Lake Garda a couple of years ago and I loved the wine. Couldn't beleive how reasonably priced it was back here in the UK. However recently the supermarkets don't seem to be stocking it; maybe not so good vintage? I'll have to hunt out the Tempranillo grape again; it's a while since I've slurped that!

Thomas said...

Vinogirl,

All you need to know when it comes to those confusing terms, branding, demand-pull, et al, is that they mean two things: get the most money for the wine that you can while your star lasts; find a way to make people think that they love it!

It's the Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio method, and it sure does work.

Thud said...

I looked at some brick samples...probably not as exciting.

Vinogirl said...

Craig: Sorry, only one cousin in London, but if you ever make it up north...
Enjoy your trip. English wine-tasting sounds interesting.

Trish: Welcome to Vinsanity.
Bardolino is a great quaffing, light red. I can't believe it's disappearing from the shops. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised seeing as all the shelf space is taken up with South American wines. Will have to investigate further when I am home in April.

Thomas: It all got a bit fuzzy...don't know if it was the marketing lingo or the 2001 Barolo I moved on to after the Tempranillo.
Anyway, the $50 plus price point they were deliberating over would put the Santa Margherita PG to shame. Even the $11 bottle of Campo Viejo looked a little dejected after overhearing such talk!

Thud: The 2001 Barolo I drank was a beautiful brick colour...does that count?

About Last Weekend said...

I've just written down the name of that last one to buy as a treat for my vino friends. Me and my husband spent many of our single days in Notting Hill drinking Rioja - maybe I should write to the company explaining they are responsible for four children. TMI?

Vinogirl said...

ALW: I would definitely recommend the Viader Tempranillo. It was a lovely wine that I think would please a lot of different palates.

Lord Roby said...

Vinogirl..I decided to try one of your 'Vertical Tastings'..so I bought a bottle of £3,£4 and £5 Asda swallie.Methinks it should be called a horizontal tasting..hic..LR1

Vinogirl said...

M'Lord, a vertical price tasting? Very novel approach.

phlegmfatale said...

I've always been partial to a Rioja, and I have always feared this was indicative of my middle- or (heaven forbid!) low-brow taste in wines. :P I think they are nice with the rich Mediterranean meals I often prefer. Anyway, it seems to me you can get a fair quality one for not a huge amount of money, which is more of a factor in my choices than I would generally prefer.

Vinogirl said...

Phlegmmy: Riojas can be, and usually are, very reasonably priced but when you add Napa to the equation, well...