Some of the greatest wines I’ve ever had have been tempranillo-based. They’ve also all been from Spain, where I think the grape really seems to shine. Why then, did I make one myself? The honest answer is that I was looking for another red grape that I could maybe make a bit more of. The grapes came from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA, and the vineyard lies on a south-facing slope a few miles from the Columbia River.
The fruit was gorgeous, hardly any desiccation and no rot. 85% was de-stemmed and it went into open-top fermenters. After alcoholic fermentation it was gently pressed to a settling tank before going to three French Oak barrels. Two were neutral and one was from 2009 and had only seen pinot noir. I wanted to create a tempranillo that had some richness yet was also balanced by plenty of acidity. In this I think we succeeded.
There is a lot of red and black fruit on the nose, a testament to the ripeness of the 2012 vintage. I also particularly like the subtle savory note that is persistent yet delicate. It’s like a cross between soy, dried herbs, and ripe cherries. Well integrated acidity helps to hold back some of that ripeness, allowing a balanced mouthfeel. Plenty of tannin – it is tempranillo after all – make this a great steak wine. The finish ends with a burst of bright cherry and oak, lightened by the acidity.
After watching the Tempranillo come to life, I would suggest that it could benefit from a bit of rest in your cellar. If you do decide to open one within the next year or two, I recommend a hearty decant and some rich, meaty food.