07/29/09 – Tempranillo

By Jesse on July 27, 2009

Over the years, the LA Winos have been pretty good about covering all of the major grape types in dedicated single-varietal tastings. Why, then, we’ve never hosted a Tempranillo shindig is one of the great mysteries of our age. Rather than dwelling on the past, let’s concentrate on fixing the situation, in order to create a better future for our children.

Until the last decade or two, Tempranillo basically meant one thing: Spain. More recently, other regions around the world have gotten on board the Tempranillo express, and the grape is now produced in numerous countries worldwide. The most legendary plantings, however, are still found in the Spanish regions of Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Hopefully we’ll get a cross-section of regions and styles to try at this meeting.

–Tempranillo has long been the star red grape of Spain’s Rioja region, where it makes medium-bodied wines of great structure and character. Traditionally, it’s blended with small quantities of several other grapes you might’ve heard of, including Garanacha (aka Grenache), Mazuelo (aka Carignan), and Graciano (aka Graciano). More recently, the slightly warmer region of Ribera del Duero has been clamoring for attention with its dense, rich bottlings of Tempranillo, some of which have a percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon blended in. Please feel free to bring a bottle from anywhere in Spain, as long as you’re sure it contains majority Tempranillo.

–Some Tempranillo is grown over the border in Portugal (although much of it is used to make Port). In that country, they call it Tinta Roriz, so look for that name on the label.

–The grape is catching on in California as well. It was originally used to make jug wine in the Central Valley, but serious winemakers soon realized it does a lot better in a slightly cooler climate. Read this article to find out more (or this longer article if you’ve got more time).

–Finally, Tempranillo can be found in South Africa, in Argentina, in Chile, and even in Australia. The Winos tasted an awesome Australian Tempranillo last year when Justin from Samuel’s Gorge brought us a couple of bottles. Watch for that Aussie Temp… it’s delicious!

We’ll be meeting at Nick’s place in West LA. The RSVP system functions like this: if you want in, you click on this link and tell me so (don’t forget your full name, e-mail address, and a cute message conveying to me your intentions). If you’re denied entry due to a meeting exceeding capacity, don’t worry — you’ll be at the top of the list the next week.

Once you’ve gotten your confirmation e-mail, go out and find yourself a bottle of Tempranillo from somewhere (or bring a $10 donation, if you prefer). See you Wednesday night—