Selections for October 2017

Two Looks at Tempranillo

2008 DEHESA la GRANJA by Alejandro Fernandez – Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León, Spain

This wine stinks – at first!

Tempranillo is one of those wines subject to the quality of reduction.  Is ‘stinky’ a QUALITY?  Yes.  The reason why you can enjoy this nearly-decade-old red is because it wasn’t over-oxidized during winemaking and barreling.  All it needs now is a breath of fresh air to reveal its well-preserved nature.  Swirl this for a couple minutes and the more mature yet fully intact smells and flavors of Tempranillo reward you for understanding.

It’s happening right here at my desk.  The sense of ‘poop’ has left the building.  Now I’m finding a nearly-Bordeaux-like panoply of sweet leather, stewed plum, dry thyme, and graphite in the nose.  The palate is soothing and rich with dark fruit followed by serious acids and tannins.  Address this final effect with food.  In this part of Spain such wines would never be drunk alone.  A favorite treatment would be lamb in one of two forms; a chop quickly grilled or a shank slowly roasted.  Either has the capacity to ‘lubricate’ your palate and prepare it for this generous yet grippy wine.

If you’re a Spanish wine geek you might note this boldly rustic red’s resemblance to the Tempranillos of Toro and we’d applaud your observation:  This vineyard resides just outside that appellation’s boundary.  The great Alejandro Fernandez brought cuttings here from his famous Pesquera estate in Ribera del Duero.  This less expensive real estate allows for a lower-priced wine value which often sees 90+ ratings from the likes of Robert Parker, while comparing with the more pricey places of Toro and Ribera del Duero.            

Here is a true “wine club wine” chosen for those who read their notes and react to them.  To review:

Point #1:  Understand “Reduction”; why it is good and how to cope with it.

Point #2:  Honor wines like this with the right food pairing.

Finally:  Rejoice in your accessing a fully intact OLDER wine for a nominal price.


The flip side of Tempranillo        

2015 PAGO de los CAPELLANES ‘Joven’ ‘Roble’ – Ribera del Duero, Spain

This wine is grown less than 50 miles from the “nearly Toro” described above.  Once again, the grape at play is Tempranillo.   So how is it a “flip side” of the former?  Youthfulness. 

This is a full seven years younger than Dehesa.  ‘Joven’ translates to ‘Young,’ meant to tell you this is the winery’s less serious, early-released rendition of Tempranillo.  ‘Roble’ is Spanish for ‘Oak’.  Some ‘Jovens’ never see a barrel, so the additional term indicates this one did (five months in French casks).  Like the Dehesa la Granja, Capellanes sports an abundant display of dark fruit.  The DIFFERENCE of youth is a fresher version of fruit plus provisions of violets and just-ground coffee bean.     

This was the best-selling wine at the Ribera del Duero / Rueda event held here earlier this week.  Folks obviously appreciated its affordability but more importantly recognized how much wine they were getting for its low price.  Of the two lamb treatments described above I’d choose the quickly-grilled chop for this, following my rule of thumb of addressing young reds with rapidly-rendered steaks and such, and doing older reds with slow-cooked (roasted or braised) proteins.  

We’ve heard the wholesale price for this is rising soon.  Our retail rate will have to reflect that with a hike of its own.