Although I’m not quite finished with the Chardonnay Challenge, I’m going to interrupt that series to take part in Wine Blogging Wednesday.
I’m so excited to be taking part in Wine Blogging Wednesday (WBW). Although it’s my first, this is WBW #35 and the theme is Spanish Wines for under $10. One month after I started this blog and they pick Spanish wine under $10… that’s my niche! It’s like they knew I was coming. And to make even more of a coincidence, WBW is hosted this month by wine-girl.net — another wine blogger right here in Cincinnati.
I’m a huge fan of Spanish Wines, they are perfect for a bargain wine hunter like me. Just last month I posted Project Garnacha and Mas Garnacha, my review of various Grenaches (mostly Spanish). Be sure to check out those posts if you’re looking for some good, cheap Spanish wine. As you’ll see, I like to explore a variety in depth versus just doing single random posts on whatever I pick up.
But alas, I can’t just milk that post for this event, I need to drink more wine! And so it’s on to Tempranillo.
Tempranillo is native to Spain and is the main variety in Rioja wines. It is typically not produced as a single varietal, but rather is bottled in blends. Nonetheless, I wanted to explore Tempranillo in its pure form. I found six different brands of 100% Tempranillo to taste (all under $10).
Part of the challenge presented for WBW was to try wines other than those from Rioja. The Tempranillo I tasted was from Catalonia, Castilla-La Mancha, La Rioja, and Valencia. A nice broad representation of regions.
My overall verdict is that Tempranillo should be consumed in blends and not as a stand alone varietal. By nature it is not a very acidic wine, nor is it high in sugar content. The result is a mediocre and rather boring wine. I much prefer the fruit-forward taste of Grenache, but then again that can be too much of a fruit bomb. Blend the two and chances are you’ll have a nice wine.
One bottle did stand out as quite enjoyable: Raimat 2003.
Raimat is from the Costers del Segre Denominación de Origen, where Raimat has a single-estate subzone. This is a nicely balanced wine with smooth tannins. While not overly fruity, it does have an enjoyable plum and black cherry flavor. The finish was a bit quick. I rated it an 89 and I would buy this again. It would have scored better with a longer finish and that was my biggest disappointment with this wine… I wanted it to last longer.
At $9.99, it was one of the more expensive bottles I tried. But I think it’s worth the price.
Best Value Pick
My pick for Best Value was Protocolo 2004. Protocolo is from Castilla-La Mancha in central Spain. It shouldn’t be new to anyone who has looked at low priced Spanish wine before. It has nice chocolate and black cherry flavors with a spicy finish. Surprisingly complex for $6.99, but I would gladly spring the extra three bucks to upgrade to Raimat. I gave Protocolo an 85.
The other wines I tasted were fair to poor. Cortijo III 2005($8.99) also rated at 85. Cortijo was a bit more fruity than Protocolo, but not overly so. Codice 2004 ($9.99) was also fair and earned an 83 with its chocolate and black currant flavors. Codice also stood out with a nice long finish.
Not so good were Finca Solano 2003 ($8.29) which was slightly off balance and got a 78 and Manoamano 2004 ($9.99) which was simply horrible (oxidized, metallic, brown) and came in with a pitiful 57. It always bums be out when a ten dollar wine sucks. You could argue that it was just a bad bottle, but my response is that if the producer wanted to ensure quality they would switch to screw caps. (Yes, I just said that… corks are romantic and a fun part of the wine ritual, but they are subject to failure and I will always fault the brand in general when that happens to me.)
More Spanish Wine Ratings to Come (shameless plug)
At risk of having to rename this site spanishwineratings.com, I have still more Spanish Wine Ratings in store. When I shopped for this Tempranillo post I also picked up some Tempranillo Blends. I’ll be posting a rating of those in the near future and I can’t wait to taste them. Also, I have another follow up to Project Garnacha pending. I’ve found a few new Grenaches that I didn’t try in the original post, plusI’ve picked up recent vintages of my top Grenache picks to see if they hold up.