Music to my ears - November 14th - #TempranilloDay

Spanish Guitar - Photo by Adri Tormo on Unsplash

Music to my ears!

#TempranilloDay will be upon us on the 14th November

In my opinion, the grape that makes the best "all round" red wines (and the occasional white one, too).

Known as the #1 variety in the wines of Rioja, the #Tempranillo grape can be used to make young, drink now styles ("Joven") that you'll find in every tapas bar in Spain. These wines generally see no oak ageing, or sometimes, just a few months. Fresh and fruity with a savoury, vanilla note on the palate and still available at sensible prices.

Try some of the (now organic) Bagordi Cosecha 2017 for just over £8 a bottle.

Traditionally, #Tempranillo based Rioja wines are all about how long they've been barrel aged. 

You'll see the "style" characteristics "Crianza", "Reserva" and "Gran Reserva" on most labels, although the latest regulations now permit additional terms, normally associated with French labelling laws, such as using a single vineyard name, a village, or regional designation as to the source of the fruit.

Normally, most wines just give the name of the producing Bodega and the "style" that you should expect.

As you move from Crianza through to Gran Reserva the amount of time, both in barrel and bottle, increases, along with, hopefully, the quality and, unfortunately, the prices!

The character of the flavour changes from red, fruit-driven, to more leathery, spicy and savoury/balsamic, aged notes and the wines become much more complex. Gran Reservas are produced only in the best vintages and are only released when ready to drink; often over 10 years' old, but still with plenty of life left in them. 

Try buying quality, mature Bordeaux for less than £30. You will struggle!

Just arrived at Frazier's #WineStudio in time for the Christmas festivities are two new wines from #Urbina

The winery is located in the small town of Cuzcurrita de Rio Tiron, west of Haro, in the Rioja Alta.

Top of the range is the 25 year old Gran Reserva Especial

Officially, 24 months ageing in oak, followed by 48 months in bottle (and then some!).

This wine is from the exceptional quality 1994 vintage and the wine is supremely well balanced and elegant to taste.

Flavours of cherries, plums, dark chocolate, mushrooms, spice, earth and leather combine to produce a Rioja (90% Tempranillo, 5% each Graciano & Mazuelo) that's simply all about harmony and a "wrap-around" velvety softness.

A spectacular bottle for a mere £30 

Highly recommended by numerous critics and by ourselves. Go on, treat yourself!

If the "Especial" is out of reach, why not go for the 15 year old Gran Reserva ?

For a little bit less, £25, you can still have some wine from the excellent 2004 vintage.

Here, the wine also has 24 months in French and American oak, followed by 36 months in bottle before release.

Rich and ripe fruit. Intense, but with finesse. I just can't get enough of good, aged Rioja.

You can have it with just about any dish made with lamb. It's a classic combination that's always a winner.

Tempranillo is also known by many other names around Spain:

Tinto Fino, Tinto del Pais in Ribera del Duero (famous examples include the wines of Vega Sicilia & Pingus)

The Ribera wines tend to have a more black fruit character with a very dense texture that requires years to soften.

Well worth the wait. 

If you want to try some younger Ribera, go for some Prios Maximus Roble Bodegas de los Rios Prieto, 2017

Only £12 a bottle.

Other variants of the #Tempranillo name include:

Cencibel in Valdepenas (south of Madrid),

Tinto de Toro in Toro (The 96 point rated Numanthia springs to mind)

Ull de Llebre in Penedes/Catalonia

Even though its home is in Spain, #Tempranillo is starting to spread around the globe. A good thing!

In Portugal, it's known as Tinta Roriz in the Douro and as Aragonez in the Alentejo.

Also grown for some time now in New World countries such as Argentina, Australia and the USA where it is just #Tempranillo!

Running With Bulls is from the Barossa Valley, Australia. It's a modern, juicy, fruity style with a deft use of oak, where the floral, violet aromas and flavours of cured meats, black olives, cherries/blackberries/plums work really well with smoked meat dishes done on the barbecue. A good future lies ahead for the Tempranillo variety in Australia.

£16.99 a bottle puts it firmly in the same price bracket as many a "Reserva" Rioja. Good value!

There is relief if you don't like reds, but still want to experience #Tempranillo

It can also be used to make a white wine.

The 2017 vintage of Rioja Vega Tempranillo Blanco Coleccion has been voted "Best White Rioja" and "Best White Wine From Spain". You really couldn't ask for more than that. A knock down bargain at £14.

Tropical fruits, white flowers and a touch of herbs on the nose. The palate is both silky-textured and unctuous with a delicious, peachy flavour and rich, lees-ageing character from 6 months in French oak.

Drink it with lobster or oysters, or with hard cheeses. It's really surprising how well a dry white will partner cheese!

So, you thought #Tempranillo only meant Rioja? Well, now you know how versatile it can be.

Can you hear the "thrum" of a Spanish guitar on the evening air? I thought so!