TAPAS (Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society) hosted the annual Grand Wine Tasting at the Golden Gate Club at the Presidio on Sunday, April 26. TAPAS is an association of domestic wine producers who focus on wines utilizing Spanish and Portuguese varietals such as Tempranillo, Albariño, Graciano, Garnacha and Verdelho.
At the TAPAS Grand Wine Tasting consumers had the opportunity to sample wines from 35 participating wineries from California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Many of these wineries are limited-production, family-owned wineries so this was a rare opportunity to try some very unique wines.
The event started with the Tempranillo Shootout, a blind tasting event that pits domestic Tempranillos against Spanish Tempranillos. The moderator was Patrick Comiskey, Senior Correspondent for Wine & Spirits Magazine. Panel members included Drake McCarthy, Director of Sales for Golden State Wine, Jodie MacKensie of Darioush Winery and Joe LaVilla, Dean of Academic Affairs at the Air Institute of California.
Tempranillo is the second most planted grape in Spain and there are over 1000 acres planted in California. Drake calls it, “A Chameleon grape that is dependent on where it grows and how it is farmed having a profound effect on the result.” Joe LaVilla states that, “Tempranillo has shyness and neutrality as its strength and is not shackled to a specific style.”
A few examples of the great selection of Iberian varietal wines available are as follows:
Bokisch Vineyards – Markus Bokisch has been a leading advocate of Spanish varietals for years, producing a wide range of grapes at his vineyards in the Lodi area. He brought his 2014 Albariño from Terra Alta Vineyards to the event, a 2014 Verdelho from Borden Ranch and the 2014 Verdejo from Clay Station Vineyard. The 2012 Monastrell was delicious and the Bokisch 2012 Graciano has always been a very popular wine from Bokisch and this vintage continued to provide the dark purple color, dark fruit aromas and the flavors of blackberry jam, black cherry, anise and even a touch of cocoa.
Irwin Family Vineyards – This winery was a particularly pleasant surprise. Winemaker/owner Dereck Irwin operates his own consulting firm to advise other winemakers and vineyard managers. The Irwin Family owns a vineyard in Nevada County outside Grass Valley that lies further north than most Sierra Foothill vineyards. This has a tendency to cool off at night and ensures the grape’s natural acidity will remain high as the grapes mature. The results are wonderfully balanced wines. The 2013 “The Bull” is a blend of Tempranillo, Malbec and Petite Sirah. It is packed with flavors and aromas of black currants, pomegranate, blueberries, cedar and black cherries with a touch of cocoa and lots of spice. The 2014 Verdejo has excellent acidity and vibrant flavors of kiwi, green apples and kumquat. The 2012 Tempranillo has been aged in French Oak for 2.5 years and loaded with aromas and flavors of plum, black cherry, boysenberry and pomegranate.
Cinder Wines – Are there wineries in Idaho? There sure is and Cinder Wines out of Snake River delivered a Tempranillo for TAPAS Grand Tasting. Cinder, named after the volcanic soil around Boise, was started in 2008. The 2012 Tempranillo is a bold, spicy and earthy wine that reflects the hot dry vineyards of the Snake River Valley. It has aromas and flavors of red currant and tobacco with black olive and raspberry qualities. The 2013 Reserve Tempranillo expresses a great elegance and complexity of flavors and aromas, adding in more spice and fruit qualities.
Martian Ranch & Vineyard – This winery located in Los Alamos in Santa Barbara County and has extensive vineyards of Iberian and Rhone varietals. It was founded by Nan Helgeland and the name is a combination of her son’s names, Martin and Ian. The 2013 Uforic Albariño has a great minerality and acidity reflecting its Spanish past along with refreshing apricot and spicy qualities reflecting its California base. The 2012 Gravitas Tempranillo has dark fruit flavors of cherry and raspberry along with blueberry hints. The smoke and spice adds to its food friendly style.
There were many other excellent wines at the event but the best way to learn about these Spanish and Portuguese varietal wines tis to taste them. Check out the TAPAS website and fine the winery near you or look for them at your local wine shop.
For more information: TAPAS Society