Thanksgiving is a busy time for wine geeks, with Tempranillo Day on the second Thursday in the month (today!), Beaujolais Nouveau Day on the third Thursday, and, of course, Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday. Here’s what I enjoyed for Tempranillo Day this year.
1. 2012 Valdubón Cosecha, Ribera del Duero. 13% ABV. $15.
Earlier this year, I reviewed the 2007 Valdubon Reserva, so I was excited to try this one. Unlike “Reserva,” though, “Cosecha” doesn’t mean much when it comes to aging time in barrels–in fact, it simply means that 85% or more of the grapes that went into that particular bottle must be from the year stated. (Reserva red wines must be aged for at least three years, with at least one year in oak.)
Dark garnet. Bright, cedar, cigar box, slightly medicinal nose with a surprisingly round, fruity, gentle (almost soft, but in a nice way), powerful taste. Mouth-watering, then a mildly tannic finish. I was surprised to learn that it spent zero time in oak.
“Bright fruit flavors of black cherry and boysenberry, with vanilla accents, are supported by light, firm tannins and citrusy acidity in this round red.”
– Wine Spectator, November 2014
“Dark violet, blueberry and earthy black plummy fruit greets the nose along with streaks of licorice and medicinal spice. Tight, focused and just a bit tart on entry, this open nicely on the palate featuring soft, almost plush fruit underpinned with firm, slight rustic tannins. There’s some nice fruit here, blueberry and plum toned, but the emerging savory nuance adds attractive complexity. It’s a pretty well behaved wine showing a hint of sophistication yet retaining the rugged character of Ribera.”
– Snooth, March 2014
2. 2011 Vaza Rioja Crianza, Laguardia in Rioja Alavesa. 14% ABV. $19.
I’ve tasted two other incarnations of Vaza Rioja, both in Spain last April when I visited Barcelona and the Priorat region courtesy of Freixenet. One experience of it, the 2010 Crianza, was in connection with a cooking class in Barcelona. The other experience, the 2011 Cosecha, was during our first dinner of the trip.
Deep violet garnet. Dusky fruit and oak, vanilla. Blackberry, licorice, spice and everything nice; a complex acidity that is mouth-watering first and then dry on the finish. Aged in French and American oak for 12 or more months, as is required in order to be a Crianza.
ANOTHER REVIEW: “The Vaza Crianza is fresh and fruit forward with attractive dark red fruit notes. While modestly concentrated, it is very pleasant drinking, with dry firm tannins on the finish.”
– International Wine Review, July 2014
3. Mia Red, NV, Spain. 14% ABV. $12.
This summer, I attended winemaker Gloria Collell’s launch of her Mia brand in Ft. Lauderdale, and I tried a number of sparkling and still wines that evening that were all marvelous and approachable. And this one is another Tempranillo that wasn’t aged in oak! However, in this case, unlike the Cosecha (#1), I wasn’t surprised–it has a softness and purity that is appealing.
Dark violet. Clean cherry aroma. Full of fruit and brilliance. Mouth-filling, beautifully soft wine with the most pleasant and rich cherry taste ever. With 14 g/l residual sugar, this would be characterized as off-dry, although it doesn’t come across as “sweet” at all.
Winemaker Gloria Collell writes:
“Mia red highlights all the qualities of Spain’s classic grape variety–Tempranillo. As I wanted the pureness of the grape to shine through, the wine isn’t barrelled in oak.
“The colour of the wine is a deep ruby red with a slightly violet blue touch, which is typical of a young Tempranillo. And if you put a glass of our red to your nose, you can smell a real earthiness, plus hints of plums, violets and even orange.
“When you come to taste it, I think you’ll find the wine rich and fruity, with hints of plum and red berries. It’s a little spicy as well and has a taste that lingers in the mouth.
“I think my Mia red is perfect to drink with white meat, beef and lamb, as well as pasta and vegetables. You can also enjoy drinking it slightly chilled if you prefer.”
Of these three Tempranillos that I enjoyed last night and tonight, it was difficult to select a favorite, as all of them had tremendous appeal and differences. And if you can’t find any of these three wines, I would also recommend any vintage of Marques de Riscal, because every vintage has been delicious and a little different, and the wine is easy to find anywhere, even in higher-end grocery stores. Samples sent for review.