Thursday, November 5, 2015

On "Tempranillo Day" Remeber One Word: Rioja

Apparently every wine needs its own day. Grenache (a.k.a. Garnacha) Day was a lot of fun. I was too busy surfing to take part in any Champagne Day festivities. But, hey, here comes Tempranillo Day. 

Producers and trade groups have christened November 12
Tempranillo Day, a time to raise a glass to this unique grape.

Tempranillo is grown all over Spain (not to mention Portugal, California, etc.) but it is perhaps best known for its role in the famous wines of Rioja. In this famous region, Tempranillo is crafted into a wide array of styles, from the long-lasting, profound and expensive wines to the fun, daily-drinking, inexpensive bottles. 

I recently tasted through three Tempranillos from Rioja, all reasonably priced and all quite good for the money. Any of these would be a solid choice for Tempranillo Day, or any day for that matter.

2012 Artadi Rioja Vineyard Selection - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
Sweet darker fruit (black cherries, blackberries, some summer plums) on the nose, with mocha, some charcoal and pencil shaving notes. Full-bodied, rich but velvety tannic structure, medium-low acid, an almost chewy texture with sweet black cherries and plums, matched with a blend of tree bark, coffee, vanilla, some underlying hints of clove and earth. Seductive and delicious, good structure but a wine to drink in the next few years it seems. 14% alcohol, 100% Tempranillo. (87+ points)
2012 Ontañón Rioja - Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
Lots of spicy notes on the nose (pepper, cedar shavings, clove) along with sweet darker fruit and roasted coffee. Medium bodied, medium-light strength tannins, moderate acid, showing some freshness and rustic earthiness in its approach. Plenty of black cherry, plums, some tart blueberries. Lots of smoke, cedar, vanilla bean and pine sap as well. Plenty ready to drink but it opens a lot with air so might be a good one to try and cellar for two years or so. 13.5% alcohol. (87 points) 

2005 Bodegas Ramon Bilbao Rioja Gran Reserva - Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
Deep ruby-auburn color. Smooth and complex aromas, full of rich and saucy black and red berry fruits, along with tobacco, cherry wood, dusty earth and clove notes. The aromas get more and more open with air. Full-bodied, the tannins are woven in well, providing structure but smoothness, while moderate acid carries it forward and keep it fresh. Juicy black cherries, plums and currants play off of complex dusty soil, sweet pipe tobacco, tar and fallen leave elements. Very expressive yet smooth, lots of complexity comes out with air. Ready to drink now but will improve a lot over the next five or six years. 14% alcohol, 90% Tempranillo and 5% apiece Mazuelo and Graciano. (90 points)

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