Welcome to the weekend! Here is your new wine quiz you’ve been waiting for so hard (yeah, okay, I know I’m pushing it, but may be at least a bit?)
And yes, we are continuing the grape trivia subject – by the way, if you are tired of it, do tell me – I will come up with something else. Just to let you know, we have two more red grapes to go through, and then we will switch to the whites for may be 8 different white grapes – then will see where we will end up.
Today’s subject is – Tempranillo! Just saying the word Tempranillo makes me very excited, as Rioja, one of the most well-known wines made out of Tempranillo grapes, are some of my all time favorites.
Tempranillo is indigenous grape originating in Spain, with more than 2000 years of history. It is black, thick-skinned grape, capable of surviving temperature swings of Mediterranean climate, with very hot days and cool nights. Tempranillo grapes are naturally low in acid and sugar content, so they often rely on blending partners to complement on both. Flavor profile of Tempranillo typically includes berries, leather (so famous in Rioja wines) and tobacco. Most famous Tempranillo wines come from Spain, from Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions, but Tempranillo is successfullygrowing in many other regions, including Portugal, California, Texas (up and coming star), South Africa, Australia and others.
And now, to the quiz!
Q1: What is the meaning of the name Tempranillo?
Q2: Name 3 grapes, traditional blending partners of Tempranillo
Q3: What is common between Bodegas Muga, La Rioja Alta, Lopez de Heredia and Vina Real outside of the fact that all four are very famous Rioja producers and of course make wines out of Tempranillo?
Q4: Tempranillo is used in production of the wine outside of Spain, which is at least equally famous to Rioja. Do you know what wine is that?
Q5: Name two producers of Tempranillo wines – one is the most famous and another one is probably the most expensive.
Enjoy the weekend and good luck with the quiz. And don’t forget to celebrate Dad tomorrow – Father’s Day, yay! Cheers!
This past weekend was filled with different wine events, which I want to share with you. First and foremost – arrival of the No Girls wine. No Girls wine is made by Christophe Baron, the wine maker behind Cayuse – one of the cult wineries from Washington state. What is so special? No Girls wine is available only through the mailing list. If you ever dealt with winery mailing lists you probably know that before you get on the mailing list, first you spend time on the waiting list for the mailing list. It took more than two years for me to move from waiting list to mailing list with Turley, makers of the great Zinfandels. I think for more than 3 years I’m still on the waiting list for Alban, Cayuse and Carlisle. With No Girls wine, despite the fact that I signed up literally on the same day as the offer came in, initially I got an e-mail that I didn’t make the mailing list, with the follow up e-mail in a couple of month saying that I got an allocation.
Hence the excitement and anticipation associated with arrival of No Girls wine – 2008 Grenache and Syrah from La Paciencia vineyard in Walla Walla. I can’t tell you anything about the wine itself – I plan to give it some time first. However, even packaging alone can make you excited – and to explain what I mean, here are few pictures for you.
Very bright and clever – what do you think?
Now, on the subject of the wines I actually tasted over this weekend, there were few I wanted to talk about.
First one is a Spanish wine 2010 Laya D.O. Almansa (14.5% ABV). This wine is a blend of Garnacha (70%) and Monstrell (30%). When you open the bottle and take a first sip, it comes out very grapey and young. It took this wine 3 days to develop a nice undertone of richness, with some ripe red fruit, a touch of spices and smokiness. Considering the price ($7.99) this is a great everyday wine (Drinkability: 7+).
Next one is a 2009 Textbook Cabernet Sauvignon Fin de journee Napa Valley (14.5% ABV). I had this wine for a few months, waiting for the right moment to try it and building up expectations – somehow the name “Textbook” caused a lot of warm expectations, especially with the back label promising a “textbook Napa Cabernet”. The wine had a nice nose of the dense black fruit, not too jammy, but present. On the palate, the fruit grew together with nice tannins and silky texture, only to somehow stop short of delivering the “oompf”. Almost like watching the golf ball slowly rolling after the putt “almost, almost, almost, ahh”. Signature black currant was almost there, but didn’t really show up in its clean beauty. Don’t get me wrong – for a $20 Napa Cab, this was a good wine, but it had to battle my inflated expectations… and lost. Drinkability: 7+.
Last but not least was 2009 Catastrophe Red Cattail Creek Estate Winery, Four Mile Creek VQA, Canada (12.5% ABV). We brought this wine back from Canada after the last year’s trip. It is a blend of Gamay Noir, Merlot and Cabernet. On the nose, it has a bright red fruit. On the palate, there is more red fruit, such as sour cherries, hint of earthiness, good clean acidity, very balanced. Medium body and very easy to drink. This wine also would be a great food wine – too bad, I only brought one bottle back. Drinkability: 8-.
That’s all folks. Don’t forget that April 25th is a Wine Blogging Wednesday, with the theme “Barossa Bumerang” – find a bottle of Barossa wine from Australia, enjoy it, and write a blog post or at least leave a comment here. Have a great week! Cheers!
Once again, we got together with the group of friends to play a fun game of blind wine tasting. This time the subject was Spain (in the past we had a lot of fun blind tasting Pinot Noir and Sparkling wines – you can read the posts here and here).
Why Spain? Spanish wines are getting a lot of recognition among wine lovers of all walks. On average, they deliver the best quality for the price (QPR) among most of other wine regions, and in the end end of the day they simply taste great and deliver lots of pleasure. So the theme was set, the bottles wrapped (every participant have to bring a bottle wrapped in paper bag) and opened, and the numbers are randomly assigned to the bottles.
We had total of six wines, all red. The idea would be may be to identify the grape (an added bonus, of course), but mainly to see a consensus as to which wine would be the most favorite of the group – blind tasting has a great leveling effect – you are not intimidated by the price or a label, so you can stay true to your taste buds. Just to set the stage as to what are the most popular Spanish grapes, I prepared the following cheat sheet, which I’m including here in its entirety:
Off we went, so for what it worth, here are my notes as I took them during tasting – no corrections afterwards:
1 brick dust on the nose, good acidity, pepper – tempranillo
2 young wine, good fruit, open – mencia, monastrell?
3 earthy, tame fruit, age, good fruit, dark color, great acidity, pomegranate, smokiness
4 feels like it is corked, but I hope it is not. Fruit at the bottom. Final verdict – corked.
5 beautiful, most balanced, good fruit, plums- Grenache?
6 classic Rioja, cherries, acidity, best of tasting.
So, reading the descriptions, what do you think those wines are? This is always not an easy guess, as your mind is racing trying to pinpoint taste, texture and any other sensations you are experiencing at the moment against your mental database of the wines you tasted (that database is either resisting and says “nothing found” or goes all the way and says “it is similar to all 10 of these”).
And here are the actual wines:
1. 2004 Bodegas Muga Rioja Selection Especiale
2. 2009 D. Ventura Vina Caneiro Ribeira Sacra DO
3. 2005 Arrayan Syrah, Mentrida DO
4. 2004 Bodegas Ondarre Rioja
5. 2009 Emilio Moro Finca Resalso, Ribero del Duero
6. 1994 Campillo Rioja Gran Reserva
Now for the popularity vote, here is how it works. Everybody can vote for up to two wines (but don’t have to). If there will be one wine which will receive a majority of the votes, it will be declared a winner. If two bottles will receive the same number of votes, we would vote again for the one favorite out of the two.
Can you guess which wine won? If you guessed “Bodegas Campillo” (as the very least judging by the label to the left), you are correct. It won by the unanimous vote – everybody liked it. Distant second was Arrayan Syrah (half of the group voted for it). Bodegas Campillo was classic and pure Rioja, with all the clean flavors of cherries and cedar box, great acidity and very fresh, not even a hint of 17 years of age. Arrayan Syrah was probably the most unusual and unexpected wine in the group – beautiful, balanced, and very pleasant to drink. But just to give due respect to all 6 wines we tasted, all except the corked bottle were very good wines, worthy of being in the competition.
If you feel encouraged to try blind tasting on your own, I would suggest to avoid doing it for the whole country. Single region or a single grape (or a stable blend, such as GSM or Bordeaux) would work much better to showcase the range of possibilities. But other than this remark, I think blind tasting is the best way to learn about your wine preferences, to have great experience and to have fun! If you got blind tasting experiences of your own – please share them here! Cheers!
About 10 days ago, I attended Spanish Wine Festival, organized by PJ Wine in New York. I can give you a summary of the event using only one word: Overwhelming. It is challenging to produce any kind of detailed summary, because there are literally no bad wines in such a well organized tasting event. There are some wines which will leave you indifferent, then there are some which are great, but not ready, and then there is great amount of wines where you go from “wow” to “wow, this is great” and to “wow” again. Therefore, I will simply give you a report in pictures. No, I didn’t get a picture of each and every wine I tried. All the wines shown below are personal favorites, and they are all highly recommended. And the good thing is that PJ Wine regularly carries most of them.
Well, let’s go.
1999 Vega Sicilia Unico and 2000 Vega Sicilia Unico, from Ribera del Duero. These are the wines to be experienced – balanced and luscious:
2006 Clos Mogador, Priorat – powerful and balanced:
Lopez de Heredia Vino Tondonia Rioja – 1976 Gran Reserva, 2000 Rosado and 1993 Blanco: 18 years old White Rioja and 11 years old Rioja Rosado – both are fresh and vibrant. Wow! And Gran Reserva – beautiful and mature wine, which will still keep going for a while.
Bodegas El Nido line, including flagship 2006 El Nido – gorgeous layered and balanced, and requiring another 10 years to really blossom:
Emilio Moro Ribera del Duero, including full Malleolus line – wines of incredible balance and elegance:
More Rioja – Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva 1995 and 1999, as well as CVNE Vina Real Gran Reserva 2001 -
1997 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904, 1995 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 890 and 2001 Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial – probably the best Rioja wines. Period. Classic and amazing.
Representing Toro: 2007 Numanthia and 2007 Termanthia, silky smooth, balanced and powerful:
More Rioja – 2004 Martinez Lacuesta Reserva, great wine from the great year:
Starring Garnacha from Campo de Borja – 2008 Alto Moncayo and 2007 Aquilon – beautiful, soft and spicy:
Jerez, a.k.a. Sherry is coming back – take a note of it. All Barbadillo wines were simply delicious, and Colosia Amontillado was also right in the league:
I would like to thank PJ Wine folks profusely for arranging such an amazing line up of wines for the event. And if I can make a suggestion, myself (and I’m sure, hundreds of other wine lovers) would really enjoy PJ Wine Grand Tasting event in the Fall – we can only hope that PJ Wine will be kind enough to organize one…