Tempranillo blind tasting!

In Uncategorized on May 2, 2011 at 8:24 pm

So, one thing that’s always a danger when participating in a blind tasting is finding out that you don’t like a wine you thought you liked nearly as much as you thought you liked it. This happened to me tonight.

Tonight I sat down with 5 other wine industry folk and blind tasted 6 wines, all Tempranillo. Although it wasn’t specifically planned this way, we ended up with 3 of them coming from the Northwest and 3 from Spain.

And even though I frequently tout the objective value of varietal typicity and terroir, I found that the wines I enjoyed least were the two that were arguably the most classic examples of Rioja.

The wine at the top of my list did turn out to be Spanish, and it was fairly well received by the group as a whole, but there were two outstanding characteristics about it that raise questions when considering how typical it is as an example of Tempranillo. First was it’s age; it was the oldest wine in the tasting, a 2003 vintage. Next was it’s region of origin. If we’re going to talk about Tempranillo in it’s “classic” definition we would be talking about Rioja, but this Tempranillo came from Castilla y Leon, a growing area south of Riojoa, which is much warmer.

The next three wines on my list were from the Northwest, and two from Idaho; Cinder 2008 Tempranillo and Sawtooth 2008 Tempranillo. Both from the Snake River Valley AVA. While there were characteristics about both wines that made me inclined to guess that they were New World, I found them both immensely pleasurable, and I am drinking the Cinder Tempranillo as I write this post.

The two lowest-rated wines were the two from Rioja, one of which was my contribution. And while I did detect the ubiquitous ‘rubber tire’ smell from both wines, all members of the group agreed that both wines developed great character while in the glass, and both were too young. I would be very interested in trying both wines again with another 5 years of bottle age.

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