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New World Tempranillo? Why bother.

2009 February 19

Yesterday on twitter, @Williger asked for recommendations for tempranillo. This made me realize that even though I’ve been on this Spanish wine kick for the last few weeks, I haven’t had the opportunity to taste very many different ones including many New World tempranillos, but I already have distinct opinions and some favorites.

Granted, there aren’t many producers of this varietal here in the U.S. Vineyard land in the more prestigious growing areas is expensive and planting a grape variety that has been associated with inexpensive Spanish wines and a blending variety for jug wines here in the U.S. probably isn’t an easy business decision. After all, one of the appealing characteristics of Spanish wines in general is the price. Even if you can manage to grow it here in the U.S., will people be willing to spend quite a bit more for a wine that the Spanish has perfected for less?

That being said, some wineries here on the West Coast have decided to grow and bottle this varietal with great success.  Here are a few domestic ones that should be given a taste if you can find them:

Abacela Vineyard Roseburg, Oregon – Earl and Hilda Jones produce several award winning tempranillos including a reserve and estate. They’ve been growing tempranillo since 1995 and it is their signature wine. They were one of the first to realize the true potential of tempranillo beyond a variety for jug wine blending.  Prices from $20 to $65 a bottle.

Goosecross Cellars Yountville, California – The Goosecross 2006 Tempranillo is sold out for this year and only available for wine club members.  It was $34 a bottle.

Core Wine Company Santa Maria, California – Dave Corey is the brother of one of our wine club friends and produces the 2006 Core C³ Tempranillo.  At $18 a bottle, it’s one of the least expensive and the one I like best for a New World wine.

Hands down, the Spanish produce the best tempranillos for the money.  After all, they’ve been doing it for hundreds of years and have elevated it to an art.  But up until the late 90’s we probably weren’t even aware that we’ve been drinking this varietal since it was often blended with other varietals to make Rioja.  Lately, tempranillo has been making a name for itself on its own and more Spanish producers are recognizing this widely-grown, yet humble grape and bottling it.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Copyright © 2009, Eric Hwang and BricksOfWine. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eric Hwang and BricksOfWine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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