Posts Tagged ‘tempranillo’

Jake’s Corner: Tasting a Spanish Wine for Summer

June 26th, 2013 1 comment

Bodegas O. Fournier Urban Ribera 2009, TempranilloWith the prospect of long, warm summer nights stretching before them, many people automatically reach for a white or rosé, something chilled to counteract the day’s heat lingering in the air. But just because it’s warm outside doesn’t mean that you should give up on red wine for the season.

In fact, summer is a great time to enjoy red wine. Grilled food often calls out for a rich red that can match that deep smoky flavor. And those ruby colors look particularly pretty against the setting sun, too.

For me, the wine hit of the summer so far is the  from Ribera del Duero, Spain. We couldn’t stop opening bottles, so I ordered 4 more cases today.

Here’s what I think: This wine is a deep ruby in color with fantastic aromas of red fruits, cherry, raspberry and freshly-cut flowers. The palate leans to black fruits like black cherry and blackberries, with hints of oak and vanilla. There is a very noticeable minerality, soft silky tannins and a lively juicy finish. It’s also a top value pick at $15 a bottle.

Tempranillo is the most widely-grown grape varietal in Spain. The name “tempranillo” is derived from “temprano,” the Spanish word for “early,” and it’s so called because tempranillo grapes tend to ripen several weeks earlier than other Spanish red grapes. Tempranillo is an ancient varietal; it’s been grown since Phoenician times on the Iberian Peninsula. It is the main grape used to make Rioja, one of Spain’s most popular wines, and can also be used solo as in the Bodegas O. Fournier Urban Ribera. Once considered only fit for jug wine in California, Tempranillo grapes are now planted around the world, and Tempranillo is respected as a fine wine.

Tempranillos are often medium to full-bodied, with bold fruit flavors and mild acidity. Berry flavors such as those seen in the Bodegas O. Fournier Urban Ribera are common, along with plum, cherry, and strawberry. Many Tempranillos can also be described as earthy, and with mineral qualities. Tempranillo is considered a very food-friendly wine, pairing well with all kinds of food. It’s especially good with grilled fare, making it an ideal wine to enjoy with friends and family at your next backyard get-together.

Two Different Wines with One Similarity…

Perhaps you’ve read our previous post, Fooled by Numbers: Wine and You?  If so, this short comparison between two very different wines compliments it nicely!

I recently purchased, for the same price, a bottle of El Salegar Tinto Fino 2007 and a bottle of the Maison Elise Richard 2008 Corbieres Red Blend, without knowing at their ratings.

El Salegar Tinto Fino 2007, image courtesy of

Maison Elise Richard 2008 Corbieres Red Blend, image courtesy of

Made from a promising blend of Carignan, Grenache Noir, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, the Maison Elise Richard 2008 Corbieres Red Blend was extremely slow to open, and its nose was very closed.  Even after opening, this wine’s nose was stubbornly elusive, being somewhat acidic and only sharing hints of black fruit and prunes.  Though the wine’s texture was not unpleasant, it was not very firm.  Its taste was earthy, but not robust.  Prevalent with brown and black fruits, including prunes, the wine also contained an aberrant licorice flavor which seemed to be an irksome “streak of independence” that divided the wine, rather than unifying it.  Rich with tannins, this is a wine that works best if paired with various potato dishes; I did not find it fully convincing on its own (it also cries for decanting).

In contrast, the El Salegar Tinto Fino 2007 made from Tempranillo grapes, had a delightfully aromatic nose, a very nice body,  and good color.  Containing earthy, herbal flavors including cherries, plumbs, and even some licorice, this wine was pleasantly well-balanced, and offered a robust, satisfying finish.  Unlike the Maison, the El Salegar demanded my attention immediately, and also did not have to rely on food to be enjoyed.

Granted, these are two very different wines, but it is interesting to note that they both were rated highly at 90 points each!

Salad Dressing With Red Wine: A Colorful Recipe

April 11th, 2011 No comments

I was recently exposed to a surprisingly flavorful salad dish prepared by a friend.  It’s finally warming up, and there’s nothing  quite like indulging in a cool, crisp, hearty salad.  My friend was not sure where she picked it up, but it was good enough to inspire me to share it with you.  Although a variety of spices are required, healthy “foodies” will probably have many of them on hand.

Here’s how you can create this delicious cocktail of flavors to drizzle over your salad:

Add the following to a saucepan and bring it to a boil: 2 cups (or three!) of good Temperanillo wine, 2-4 cloves, 1/8 cup of lemon peel shavings (plus a spritz from the fresh fruit), 1 cinnamon stick, 3-4 star anise pods, 2/3 cup sugar, one teaspoon of fennel seeds.  Keep boiling for about 20 minutes; the dressing will reduce in volume, but do not fear!  You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture becomes very, very thick.  Allow your dressing to cool, then use a strainer to get rid of the solid matter.

Prepare your salad as usual, but the addition of a few strategically-placed mint leaves compliments this dressing very nicely.  Add a pinch of salt on top, if desired.  Serve, and enjoy!


Tempranillo Vines (image from Wikipedia)

Simple Label, Complex Wine: the Cahuin Winemaker’s 2008 Select Red

March 21st, 2011 No comments

Cahuin Winemaker's 2008 Select Red

Never judge a book by its cover, or a wine by its label.  The somewhat plain, non-memorable label on the Cahuin Winemaker’s 2008 Select Red gives credence to this old adage.  This delightful, earthy and rich red consists of a fine blend of Sangiovese, Tempranillo, and Malbec.  (The Malbec provides exceptional body, with earthy flavors including blackberries and plums.)  In fact, this wine recently took home the Bronze in San Francisco’s International Wine Competition in 2010.  I personally would rate it 91 or 92 points, though it received an “official” rating of 90 points.

Blends such as this, when successful, are so because the balance of varietals is just right; they work together to bring out the best flavor inherent in each.   This well-balanced red pairs particularly well with salads that include Thousand Island dressing, Russian dressing, and meals that may include pasta with rich sauce, pastrami, corned beef, whole potato fries, and caramelized onions.  Even mushroom burgers make a nice pairing, particularly with a bit of bleu cheese is melted atop the mushroom.  And, naturally, this wine goes well with a good cut of steak, like most wines from Argentina.

If, at first, you’re not as taken with this wine as I, have no fear; this is one of those wines that takes time to open up.  After a good 10 minutes, you’ll experience this wine in all its glory. Decanting it would be an excellent plan; I like this classic decanter by Riedel and it’s currently on sale for less than $40!

While it is not a wine that will call to you from the store shelf with an intriguing label, the Cahuin Winemaker’s 2008 Select Red will certainly dress up one of your meals!

Wine Review: 2008 La Cocina Tempranillo

February 1st, 2011 No comments

la cocina tempranillo

To me, there’s nothing like a good Tempranillo.  Tempranillo is often referred to as Spain’s “noble grape,” and it is used to make bold wines with lots of character.

Tempranillo is one of a combination of wines that makes Rioja, the famous red wine of Spain.  But Tempranillo is wonderful by itself as well.  It’s a full-bodied red wine that is well-balanced by a signature dusty, earthy taste.  It’s a great sipping wine, perfect for sharing amongst friends.

The 2008 La Cocina Tempranillo is a great wine for red wine lovers in search of a good deal (and who isn’t?)  For around $10 a bottle, it’s a great weeknight wine.  This is a ripe, rich wine that would pair equally well with a simply grilled steak or pasta in a simple tomato sauce.  It’s got a pleasant earthiness that’s reminiscent of dust and leather backed up by juicy raspberries.  It’s a no-frills wine perfect for a night of toasting good times with friends and family.   Pick up a bottle and savor it.