Tapas stands for Tempranillo Advocates, Producers, and Amigos Society. Some 50 wineries poured Tempranillo and other Spanish and Portuguese varietals at Fort Mason’s Herbst Pavilion this past Saturday, June 5th. It was a pleasant but somewhat eerie atmosphere in the Herbst Pavilion, with wineries spread out along the perimeter walls. We are used to four times as many wineries and a ton of trade and media representatives packed like sardines at Fort Mason tasting events. At the Tapas we had plenty of elbow room and, best of all, many opportunities to talk to the winemakers and winery owners.
We spent four weeks in Spain in 2007 and explored the Toro, Ribera del Duero, and Riojo wine regions where Tempranillo is king. Ever since that visit, we have been constantly on the lookout for great-tasting Tempranillo wines. The Tapas tasting is the perfect opportunity for wine lovers like us to discover Tempranillo and other Spanish varietals.
As we chatted with the various wine makers one thing became very evident. They love making this wine but it is a tough sell. They have the belief that once wine drinkers taste this wine they will come back for more. Collectively these Tapas wineries are on the move to introduce this food-friendly varietal to the American wine drinker. Something must be working because this year they moved to the big Herbst Pavilion, as opposed to the small Conference Center they used last year. They were expecting a crowd of 1200 wine drinkers to the public tasting following the trade and media session.
Our Favorite Temprnaillo Wines at TAPAS
2007 Yorba Vineyards from Sutter Creek in Amador County. This was our favorite by a landside. The old saying the wines are made in the vineyard could not be truer for this wine. Ann Kraemer is the vineyard manager and along with her family the owner of this winery. She hands off her winemaking duties to Ken Bernards in the Napa Valley. But it is her expertise in the vineyards that makes this wine what it is. We know this because we’d visited her Shake Ridge vineyards in February and Ann took us on a memorable vineyard walk. The wine sells for $37 and there are fewer than 300 cases of this wine. It will sell out quickly.
Truchard 2005 and 2002 from Carneros region. Tony Truchard says his Tempranillo ages very well in the bottle. That is why his current release is a 2005. But it was the 2002 that he poured that we thought was amazing – so elegant and so good!
Parador Napa Valley was a great little discovery for us. Winemaker Steve Ventrello has a small plot of Tempranillo vineyards in the Napa Valley and he is planning to expand. This guy makes terrific blends of Spanish varietals. The Reserve 2003 is another example of how Tempranillo ages in the bottle. Ah, so good!
Yet another great find was the Core Wine Company in the Santa Barbara wine country. Dave and Becky Corey are the winemakers. All the wines were excellent but standing out was the 2006 Ground Around, 39% Grenache, 36% Tempranillo, and 25% Syrah. Too bad this wine is out of our price bracket at $47.
We also rated these Tempranillo wines as very good.
”¢ Fenestra Winery 2007, Alta Mesa, Lodi
”¢ Harney Lane Winery 2007, Lodi
”¢ Red Lily Vineyards, 2006, Rogue Valley, Oregon
”¢ Red Lily Vineyards, 2007 Red Blanket, Rogue Valley, Oregon
”¢ St. Amant Winery 2007, Lodi
”¢ Tejada Vineyard Company, 2005 Reserve Tempranillo, Lake County
”¢ Tejada Vineyard Company, 2006 Tempranillo/Garnacha, Lake County
Next post, we discus the AlbariÃ±o wines that were poured at the TAPAS tasting.