I love the celebration of wine grapes! Why? First of all because I love wine, second because I love the communal spirit of everyone sharing and sipping the same grape on the same day, and third any reason to have a glass of wine works for me! So won’t you please join me tomorrow in raising a glass in celebration of the wonderful grape Tempranillo?!
That’s right, tomorrow is International Tempranillo Day. This day began in November 2011 and is held the second Thursday of November each year. The Tempranillo Advocates, Producers, and Amigos Society (TAPAS) felt it was about time Tempranillo, and all its regional representatives, joined the international stage of wine grape celebrations. In my opinion the timing is perfect because Tempranillo is a great wine for fall cooking, smoking, and barbequing.
Tempranillo is a medium to full body, red wine offering general flavor profiles of red fruit, spice, tomatoes and leather. It tends to have full flavor with a smooth, lower tannin, lower acidity texture. However, old world Tempranillos do vary a bit in color, flavor and body from its new world counterpart due to differences in the winemaking techniques and terroir. The name Tempranillo translates to “early” because this grape tends to ripen earlier on the vine than other Spanish grapes; even thriving in shorter growing seasons. If you have ever had Spanish red wine chances are good you’ve had Tempranillo; it is blended or bottled by itself in the majority of Spanish reds from the most expensive to simple table wines. Today, Tempranillo, an indigenous Spanish grape, is grown in 14 countries, utilizing over 500,000 acres of the world’s vineyards, making Tempranillo the fourth most planted grape in the world! Tempranillo thrives in the Lodi and the central coast regions of California and grows so well in the Texas High Plains it is considered the Texas state grape. Sounds like enough reasons for an international celebration to me!
Great news, if you did not know tomorrow is International Tempranillo Day you still have time to visit your favorite local wine retailer or order online for overnight shipping to join the global celebration. Here are a few awesome Tempranillo suggestions from California, Texas, Idaho, and New Mexico to get you started:
2012 Vara Wines Tinto Especial Lot #012 New Mexico USA ($24): This unique wine was crafted of 60% Tempranillo, 28% Garnacha, 7% Syrah, and 5% Monastrell; a complex nose billows inviting notes of black cherry, blackberry and plum marmalade wrapped in earth notes of savory herbal notes, black pepper, smoke, and toasted walnuts; well-balanced wine with a slightly rustic mouth-feel, round acidity and dusty yet integrated tannins coat the mouth, leaving a lasting, earthy finish; this wine was crafted from grapes grown in the New Mexico desert; recommended serving temp is 67° F.
2012 Bodegas Paso Robles Viva Yo Paso Robles USA ($33): This wine was crafted of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon from grapes cultivated in Santa Ana Valley and Paso Robles; traditional fruit notes of black cherry, blackberry and plum were met with a touch of cassis, spice notes reminiscent of Chinese 5 Spice crossed with baking spices, and a trail of smoke; an elegant earthy wine that was full in body yet well-structured and balanced on the palate, tannins fairly integrated, lingering finish.
2013 Harney Lane Tempranillo Lodi USA ($26): This wine was crafted of 100% Tempranillo; aromas of dried plums and figs were met with penetrating spice notes, smoky leather, fresh tobacco leaves, and a trail of dried red floral notes with vanilla; a complex wine with layers of flavors that mirror the nose, bold yet elegant, full body, tight tannins, long finish; this wine will age very well; great now paired with food.
2014 Becker Vineyards Texas Tempranillo Stonewall Texas USA ($24.95): This wine was crafted of 100% Tempranillo; aromas of black cherries, blackberries and plums take the lead while notes of dried violets, spice and a slight hint of dark chocolate and smoke linger in the background; the palate is slightly softer than the CA, NM, and ID Tempranillos, yet still full-body with round acidity and firm tannins that coat the palate, an earthy wine with a long, dusty finish. And a beautiful Texas Longhorn on the label!
2014 Cinder Wines Tempranillo Snake River Valley Idaho USA ($29): This wine was crafted of 100% Tempranillo and my first taste of Idaho wine; subtle fruit aromas of black cherry and plum were met with a pleasing funk aroma of damp underbrush, notes of baking spice leading with cinnamon, allspice, and cloves, and a trailing hint of slightly toasted cedar and vanilla; bold on the palate with rich texture and penetrating tannins that wraps the palate, round acidity, lingering, bold finish; a nice introduction to Idaho wines for me in a traditional Tempranillo with a little added funk; very nice.
2014 Pedernales Cellars Texas Tempranillo Texas USA ($20): This wine was crafted of 100% Tempranillo; lively aromas of red and blue berries were met by candied violets, spice notes, black pepper, and smoke, all resting on a firm bed of minerality; lightest of this group, elegant and subtle with layers of flavors wrapped in a delicate mouth-feel, well-structured with dusty tannins and round acidity, creating a full body wine with a long, pleasing finish; I have been known to tell anyone who will listen if you are ever in or near Fredericksburg, Texas you must visit Pedernales, if not order the wine online!
Food pairing suggestions for Tempranillo include all forms of red meat smoked, roasted, grilled, braised, barbequed, with lots of earthy spices such as Herbs de Provence, Chinese 5 Spice, Casablanca Ras El Hanout African Spice blend, or Greek Spice blend. Bacon, chorizo, kebabs, lamb chops, or any kind of smoked meats will sing when paired with Tempranillo!
*Disclaimer: These media samples were sent to me from TAPAS, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Please join the International Tempranillo Day fun by sharing your Tempranillo pictures on social media using #TempranilloDay and /or #Tempranillo. Also, please tag me in your photos so I can see how you are celebrating. There are many fun International Tempranillo Day events taking place at wineries in California and Oregon. Finally, Lodi is hosting a Tour of Tempranillo Weekend November 11 – 13 featuring Tempranillo from 17 different Lodi wineries! Please check the TAPAS web site for more details on the all these great celebrations!