Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tempranillo Day Cometh

One of the best red wines you never heard of, Tempranillo is one of California's great unknown successes. Its producers celebrate Tempranillo Day on Nov. 13.

Only a few brave souls grow it, but once you've experienced a good one, you'll bow down to their wisdom.

Originally from Spain, this is a grape that's far more appropriate for California's climate than many of the more widely grown varieties planted here.

There are five pioneering vintners with organic vines who make Tempranillos. Surprisingly, three are from San Luis Obispo County from vintners in Edna Valley and Paso Robles.

Wines I Know

1. Verdad, $30*

My hands down favorite Tempranillo, this is made with Biodynamic grapes from the vintner's estate vineyard in Edna Valley (in San Luis Obispo County). I've even found it at the hipster Cafe 123 in Berkeley on tap.

Says wine critic Stephen Tanzer in his review of the 2009: "Musky red berries, cherry and herbs on the nose...lively red currant."

2. Martian Ranch & Vineyard, $35

A great winemaking team at Martian produces just 200 cases of this Tempranillo. It's made on native yeasts.

Wines I Know Of

1. AmByth Cellars, $45

This natural wine producer adds no sulfites to its tiny lots of wines. It's also a Biodynamic grower and it  makes all of its wines in the Biodynamic Wine category.

2. Castoro Cellars, $24

Castoro Cellars is one of the largest organic growers in the country. It makes 300+ cases of this organically grown Tempranillo from its Whale Rock Vineyard in Paso Robles.

3. Upper Five Vineyards, $28

This Oregon vineyard is tiny - just 5 acres - but is located in the hot, sunny Rogue Valley in the southern part of the state. About 150 cases are made. Most is sold locally, including at the Ashland Food Coop.

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