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Celebrate Tempranillo!

November 11, 2015 2 comments

I hope you are done with that celebratory bottle of Merlot from the last week, as a brand new grape celebration is upon us. This time, it is about the grape which is not as widespread as Merlot, but still a foundation of some of the absolutely best wines in the world – dark skinned grape called Tempranillo. On Thursday, November 12, we will be celebrating International Tempranillo Day, with festivities around the world as you can see at the TAPAS web site.
First and foremost, Tempranillo means Spain – Rioja, Ribera deal Duero, Toro and many other regions in Spain craft world class wines which rival in their longevity wines of Northern Rhône and Bordeaux (but still quite affordable, opposite to the latter).
Of course Tempranillo’s success is not confined to Spain only – Texas makes excellent Tempranillo wines, with some interesting efforts in California (for instance, Irwin Family – delicious!), Washington, Oregon and Australia. Tempranillo also shines in Portugal under the names of Tinta Roriz and Aragonez.
I can spend hours going through my favorite Tempranillo wines and experiences – just search this blog for “Tempranillo”, you will see what I’m talking about. Instead, I want to mention just my most recent encounter with Tempranillo wines from two weeks ago – Ramón Bilbao Rioja.


2011 Ramón Bilbao Rioja Crianza (13.5% ABV, $14, 100% Tempranillo, 14 month in oak) – open inviting nose of the fresh dark fruit with touch of cedar box. Fresh, firm, well structured on the palate, nice core of ripe cherries, eucalyptus, pencil shavings and touch of espresso, good acidity, overall very balanced. A perfect example of wine which is drinkable now, and will gladly evolve for the next 10–15 years. Also at the price – very hard to beat QPR.
What are your Tempranillo experiences? Got any favorites or celebration plans you care to share? Please do so below. And until the next grape holiday – cheers!

Celebrate Tempranillo!

November 14, 2013 9 comments

Tempranillo_AutoCollage_29_ImagesToday is an International Tempranillo Day 2013!

Tempranillo is an indigenous grape originated in Spain (by the way, do you know that Spain has the biggest area of grape plantings in the world?), 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. Name Tempranillo comes from Spanish word temprano, which means “early”. Tempranillo typically ripens two weeks earlier compare to many other grapes.  Tempranillo also one of the most widely planted red grapes in the world, with about 500,000 acres planted world-wide.

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 successfully growing in many other regions, including Portugal, California, Texas (up and coming star), South Africa, Australia and others. It is also interesting to note that Tempranillo is known under lots of different names (and as such, can throw some curve balls to The Wine Century club aficionados) – it is known in Spain as Tempranillo, Tinto Fino, Ull de Llebre, Tinto de Toro (this grape actually has clonal differences, similar to Sangiovese/Sangiovese Grosso), Cencibel and many others. It is known in Portugal as Tinta Roriz, Aragonez and Tinta Aragonez. But for the rest of the world it is simply known as Tempranillo.

So what is so great about Tempranillo? It has a few qualities which squarely set it on the line with the bets of the best in the wine world.

First, it has a great affinity for oak – Tempranillo wines can age and improve for the very long time in the oak barrels, and the resulting wine will pick up subtle nuances and complexity from that oak.

Tempranillo wines are very good at ageing. Best Tempranillo wines will rival best Bordeaux and Burgundy when it comes to improving with age and maintaining its youthful character. I have a first-hand account I can share with you – here is my experience with 1947 Rioja Imperial.

Last but absolutely not least in my book – Tempranillo wines are affordable! You can drink absolutely fabulous wines in the price range of $20 to $50, occasionally going into the $80+ – can you say the same about California Cabernet, or Burgundy, or Bordeaux? Not really… But with Tempranillo wines you do have this luxury. Of course there are  Tempranillo wines which will cost $600+, but those are the exception, not the norm.

So what Tempranillo wines should you be drinking today, or any other day for that matter? I would love to give you a variety of recommendations, but come to think of it, I can only mention a few names coming strictly from Spain. There is nothing I can tell you about about Portuguese Tempranillo wines, as Tinta Roriz is typically blended with other grapes to produce Port. And while Tempranillo wines are made in Texas, California, Oregon, Washington and probably other states in US, most of those wines are available only at the wineries and rarely leave state limits.

But – when it comes to Tempranillo from Spain, I got favorites! Let me give you a few names of the producers – all the recommendations are personal, as I tasted many of their wines.

Rioja: La Rioja Alta, Bodegas Muga, Vina Real, Lopez de Heredia, Cune Imperial

Ribero del Duero: Emilio Moro, Vega Sicilia, Hasienda el Monsterio, Bodegas Alion

Toro: Teso La Monja, Numanthia

DO La Mancha: Bodegas Volver (one of the singularly best wines money can buy for around $15)

So I think it is the time to have a glass wine. Before we part let me leave you with a few interesting resources:

A vintage chart of Rioja wines, going all the way back to the 1925

A general vintage chart of Spanish wines, starting from 1992

A map of Spanish wine regions

And we are done here. Ahh, before I forget – Tempranillo Day now has a permanent spot in the calendar! It will be celebrated every second Thursday in November. Have a great Tempranillo Day and cheers!

 

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Global Champagne Day, Dishcrawl SoNo, Tempranillo Day and more

October 23, 2013 6 comments
Arrayán Petit Verdot, Spain

Arrayán Petit Verdot, Spain

Meritage time!

Let’s start from the answer to the wine quiz #78, grape trivia – Petit Verdot. In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions regarding the red grape called Petit Verdot. Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Explain the meaning of the name Petit Verdot

A1: Petit Verdot stands for the “little green”, as a reference to the small size of the grapes and the tendency to retain green (underripe) grapes even at the harvest time

Q2: Name four grapes, main blending partners of Petit Verdot in France

A2: We are talking about classic Bordeaux five here, the blending partners of Petit Verdot are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec

Q3: True or False: Australia’s plantings of Petit Verdot far exceed the plantings of Petit Verdot in France

A3: True. Australia embraced Petit Verdot starting from the second half of the 18th century, increasing its plantings, where Petit Verdot plantings in France had being on the downturn for a while.

Q4: While Petit Verdot is a difficult grape to work with, two events were major contributors to the demise of Petit Verdot in Bordeaux. Can you name those two events?

A4: Phylloxera epidemic in the late 1800s and the frost of 1956. As a difficult to grow and not essential grape, Petit Verdot followed the path of Malbec, with a dramatic reduction in plantings after the cataclysmic events.

Q5: While it is not impossible to find a pure 100% Petit Verdot wines made in Bordeaux, those wines are rather the exceptions. What is the typical percentage of Petit Verdot in Bordeaux blends?

A5: It is very often 1% to 2%, and in general stays under 5%. There are exceptions, of course.

Bonus question: what was your personal encounter with Petit Verdot? Do you have any memorable bottles?

Australia, Spain and [interestingly enough] Long Island, New York come to mind when I think of single-grape Petit Verdot bottlings. Some of the wines were just purely spectacular, like 2007 Jamesport Petit Verdot  from Long Island, or this 2007 Arrayán Petit Verdot from Spain.

I’m glad to report that we had a good participation in the quiz, and most importantly, we have a lot of winners! Patrick Kleiner (who has no web site), the drunken cyclist and Vino in Love are all correctly answered all 5 questions, so they are our ultimate winners and get unlimited bragging rights. Well done! I also want to mention Duff’s Wines and Eat with Namie as they both made only minor mistakes and got about 4.5 correctly out of 5, so they both get an honorable mention.

Now, to the interesting stuff around the web and the vine!

I don’t have much of the interesting reads for you today, so it is mostly various events announcements.

First, don’t forget that Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #4 (#MWWC4) is in its final hours  – it ends today, on October 23rd. The theme is “oops” – send your submission over to TheWineKat, and best to do it on Twitter with the hash tag #MWWC4.

Next, it appears that this coming Friday, October 25th, is a Global Champagne Day 2013 (I’m sure TheDrunkenCyclist is oozing with joy :- ) ). You have an option of finding a good place to celebrate in style, or just crack open whatever sparking goodness your heart desires, and celebrate the celebration drink!

While you still have time to get ready, don’t miss the International Tempranillo Day coming up on November 14th. There are plenty of Tempranillo events happening all over the country, and the good Tempranillo bottle is so easy to find nowadays, you have no excuse to miss this celebration.

Last but not least, at least for the local Connecticut foodies, Dishcrawl event is for South Norwalk (SoNo) will take place on November 20th. Based on my recent dining experiences in South Norwalk, this event shouldn’t be missed! For more details and to get your tickets, please visit Dishcrawl site.

That is all I have for you for today. The glass is empty – but refill is on the way. Until the next time – cheers!

Tempranillo and My [Successful!] DIY Experience

November 9, 2012 8 comments

I guess you are wondering what is the relation between Tempranillo and Do-It-Yorself, and if I started making my own wine. Rest assured – there are no plans for “Chateau Talk-a-Vino” in foreseeable future, no need to be scared. But – my “successful DIY experience” has direct relationship with wine, so let me tell you about it first, despite the fact that today is International Tempranillo Day and we actually have to be talking about Tempranillo wines.

About a week ago I noticed strange clicking sound in the kitchen. Something clicks, not too loud. Few minutes later, another click, and then again – I think you got the picture. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like any unexplained sounds in the house. If you hear something which you are not supposed to hear, that often means trouble. And somehow this clicking sound is associated in my mind with electricity, which I like even less.

Next day – the same story. I’m puzzled, but still, I have to let it go, as I have no idea what this can be.

Then, while sitting at the table, my eyesight stops at the wine fridge, and I see the temperature. Big red sign reads “75”.

75! Do you know the proper storage temperature for the wine? Yes, it is 55, not 75 at all! Do you want to guess the first word which comes to my mind? Yes, you are absolutely correct, that one and you are right about the second one too.

I unplug the fridge, wait a few minutes, plug it back – no effect, and then I hear the clicking sound. Okay, so as it always goes in life, I just got good news and bad news at the same time. Good news – the source of the clicking noise is discovered. Bad news – my wine fridge is busted. It is not new, okay, but it holds about 60 bottles of wine… And new fridge is definitely not budgeted 😦

Okay, google to the rescue. Fridge is unloaded, and I start trying different suggestions from internet. I even found an official troubleshooting guide for my Vinotemp VT-60, and went step by step as recommended. No, it is not the control card, and it seems that the next suggestion from the troubleshooting guide simply recommends replacing the compressor, which not only requires a new compressor, but also some good welding skills and equipment, which is definitely out of my league. Not good. Need better advice, please!

I decided to start looking for just troubleshooting around different parts. LG compressor. Found full spec and the manual – no help. Okay, what is this little cover on the side? I guess it is the relay some people referred to in the posts I saw. I see the part number (P6R8MC), put it in google, and… this blog post comes up, where someone named Chad Munkers is talking exactly about my fridge! Okay, step by step, similar to what I did, yes, the relay and overload protector, and if I will disassemble this small part, take a little disk out, flip, put it back it will magically work? Seriously? Another 15 minutes, put the plug back in – ahh, I love that sound! This is how working wine fridge sounds like! Here are some pictures for you  – these are just random, and all the actually useful pictures can be found in the blog post shown above:

Wine fridge – view from the back

some tools

 

and some parts…

Sorry for sharing in such a detail – a lot of my DIY, or may be rather FIY (Fix-It-Yourself) projects are not so successful – for instance, I fully disassembled our Nintendo Wii (twice), cleaned it up and then even replaced the laser head – only to throw it out later, still not working. So you can see how successful revitalization of the wine fridge made me happy.

And now – to the wine! My Tempranillo wine for today’s International Tempranillo Day was 2004 Bodegas Ondarre Rioja Reserva DOC ($16.98, 13.5% ABV). 2004 was outstanding year for Rioja, one of the best vintages ever. This wine was perfectly drinkable from the get go – nice dark fruit on the nose, the same on the palate with some cherries, raspberries, touch of plums and cedar box notes, perfect acidity and soft tannins. Very balanced and enjoyable. The wine was practically unchanged on the second day, so I’m sure it will last quite well in the cellar. Drinkability: 8-.

That’s all for today, folks. Hope your Tempranillo Day experience was great, and I would love to hear about it. Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Thursday(s) Celebrations and more

November 7, 2012 7 comments

Meritage Time!

It seems that the weeks are flying – I know that I prefer them at the crawling pace, but – not much I can do, right? Okay, let’s start with the answer to the Wine Quiz #35, What is missing. The wine quiz was dedicated to Tempranillo as we will celebrate tomorrow (November 8th) an International Tempranillo Day, and it was asking to fill the gaps in the group of numbers which were related to Tempranillo.

Of course it was obvious that the chain of numbers represented years. And both  VinoinLove and thedrunkencyclist figured out that the years represented the best vintages of Rioja – however, they both only got one of the “best vintages” correctly. The 2001 was a great vintage, absolutely, but the vintage of the last century was 1964, not 1970. Here is the reference to the best Rioja vintages from the Vibrant Rioja web site, so you can check all the great vintages for yourself. We don’t have a winner this time, but hey, there is always a next time…

Now, I need your help with something. If you read the Meritage post from the last Wednesday, I mentioned that I’m fighting the writer’s block and trying to write a post for the wine blogging competition. So I managed to overcome the block and wrote the post (here is the link) – and if you like it, I need your vote! You can vote for it here –  just scroll down to the bottom of the page and find the link to my blog there. Thank you!

Now, let’s proceed with “interesting stuff” part of the Metritage. First, the next three Thursdays, we will be celebrating different holidays – of course, they are drastically different in scale, but nevertheless, they all fall on Thursday. Tomorrow, November 8th, we are celebrating International Tempranillo Day. It is very easy to take part in the festivities – just find a bottle of Tempranillo wine (Rioja or Ribera del Duero from Spain, or may be some Texas wine?), pull the cork and enjoy (and if you really like it, write a blog post about it or tweet about it, or leave the comment in this blog).

The next Thursday, November 15th, is Beaujolais Nouveau 2012 Day. This year will actually mark 30th anniversary of the Beaujolais Nouveau celebration – you should definitely look for the festivities around you, and as usual, get a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau (I have to say that the wine had been steadily improving its quality over the past few years) and enjoy!

And then the Thursday after that, November 22 is…what, Thanksgiving is already here? Yep, Turkey day is arriving in mere two weeks. There is always a question of wines for the Thanksgiving celebration, so here is my post from the last year – I’m sure the actual wines will be different this year, but the ideas will be the same.

Last (but may be not least) – do you think wine reviews can get you sued? Here is the post by Steve Heimoff – if anything, it is an interesting read.

That’s all for today, folks – the glass is empty. Cheers!

 

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