Oct 05 2010

Tempranillo Territory?

Published by at 10:32 AM under Red Wines,Spain

I spent this past weekend going through a few of the other wine stores in downtown Chicago—I always like to see what everyone else has on their shelves, and talk to the salespeople—I either learn something new, or feel secure in the wine knowledge Just Grapes has bestowed upon me!

One place I browsed had an extensive domestic Pinot Noir section. While I was eyeing the shelves and talking to the salesperson, a customer came up and asked where the Oregon Tempranillo was. The salesperson looked puzzled, and I said Tempranillo was a Spanish grape. The customer looked at me like I was an idiot, and said, “I know that. But there’s Tempranillo made in Oregon.”

“Interesting,” I thought, and I left the salesperson with the customer. I know this store didn’t carry Oregon Tempranillo, and I haven’t seen it yet here in Chicago. When I got home, I did a little research. It turns out there are a handful of small vineyards in Oregon producing Tempranillo—arguably the most Spanish of Spanish grapes, and the signature of the Rioja Valley.

The most prominent Oregon Tempranillo comes from the Umpqua Valley—an area where I used to work in the early 90’s (around Roseburg on the map above.) Back then, it was known for producing microbrews, but today, it’s known for producing wine as well as beer.

The Oregon Tempranillos are something to keep an eye on, but for now, we’re sticking to the original Tempranillo Territory: Spain. Here at Just Grapes, we carry some spectacular bottles in every price range, and below are just a few. Be sure to stop by and check out our entire selection—just don’t ask where the Oregon Tempranillo is… yet.

2009 Venta Morales Tempranillo, La Mancha, Spain [$6.39]
The 2009 Venta Morales is a phenomenal value. Sourced from a 32-year-old vineyard with tiny yields of two tons per acre, the wine was fermented and raised in stainless steel. It reveals a remarkably deep color for its humble price, fragrant black cherry aromas, ripe, round, savory fruit on the palate, and excellent depth and length. It over-delivers in a very big way.

2007 Senorio De Pecina, Rioja, Spain [$14.99]
Light, bright red. Smoky red berries and cherry on the nose, with hints of leather and cured meat. Spicy redcurrant and strawberry flavors are complemented by floral pastille and herbs, with silky tannins adding firmness. Gains weight with air and finishes with lingering cherry and blackberry flavors.

2007 Teso La Monja Almirez, Tinta de Toro, Toro, Spain [$25.59]
91 Pts – Steven Tanzer

Vivid ruby. Very pretty, focused aromas of raspberry, rose, minerals and Asian spices. Sweet red and dark berry flavors are complicated by graphite and candied floral qualities reminiscent of pinot noir. The finish features smoky minerals and leaves behind sweet red fruits. This lively wine is balanced to reward aging, and will continue to evolve for 4-7 years.

2006 Pingus, Tempranillo, Ribera del Duero, Spain [$649.99]
99 pts – Robert Parker

Limit one bottle per person
The flagship 2006 Pingus is a spectacular effort. A glass-staining saturated opaque purple, it delivers an other-worldly perfume of smoke, lavender, mineral, scorched earth, and an amalgam of kinky black fruits. Voluptuous on the palate in a measured way, it has superb balance, layered, complex flavors, ripe tannin that is entirely covered by the fruit, and a decade of aging potential. This monumental wine will evolve effortlessly for 10-15 years and offer prime drinking from 2016 to 2030+.

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