It’s time for another installment of the Noble Grape Challenge. Last time around we hung out in Italy to learn about the Nebbiolo, and today we finally leave the Mediterranean to get acquainted with the Tempranillo.
About the Noble Grape Challenge
Wine Folly created the Noble Grape Challenge as a way to learn the spectrum of wine flavours found in red and white wines. Taking nine reds and nine whites, we’ll go through them from lightest to darkest, learning about the key characteristics and flavours of each.
Temps are most commonly grown in Spain but also grown in the US, Australia, and Argentina. Some of the most common flavours are cherry and plum with some leather, tobacco, vanilla and clove. Acidity and tannin is usually middle of the road, which can make Temps a bit smoother than other wines.
Oh, and one more thing! Since the word comes from Spanish, the double L at the end is a E sound, so it’s pronounced temp-ran-EEE-o and not temp-ran-ILL-o.
The Test Case
What a treat! I went home for the weekend a couple of weeks ago and discovered that my stepdad had brought a 2005 Zuccardi Tempranillo out of his cellar for me!
I couldn’t find this wine in the LCBO database (Ontario’s government-operated liquor-selling store), but I’m familiar with the maker and would recommend any of the wines the lcbo has brought in for our tasting pleasure.
Specifically, Zuccardi makes one of my favourite go-to wines – Santa Julia Magna. It’s a Cabernet Sauvignon, but is similarly full-bodied wine to the one I tasted for this post.
It’s also worth noting that this Tempranillo is from Argentina, even though Spain is more well known for this varietal.
Is this wine ever dark! It’s very dark in colour, and quite opaque. The colour is a little garnet-ish, but also has some of the beginnings of browning on the edges – a sign of its age. It has lots of legs and a fair amount of depth on the nose, though I had trouble identifying anything specific. Leather? Cinnamon and clove? Who knows! (Seems there’s always more tasting work to be done, more to learn…)
I may have had a hard time knowing what I did get, but I do know what I didn’t get. I didn’t notice any floral or fruity notes, nor any smoke. When I’m struggling a bit I find it helpful to come at tastings from the other side, finding out what’s in the wine by process of elimination. There are a bunch of handy tasting charts that can help with this.
When it came down to it I thought this wine just smelled warm and cozy. I can easily imagine having this wine on a cold winter night in front of a fire… so maybe I was smelling some baking spices, but more in an amorphous way. I also got some vanilla on the nose after the wine had opened up a bit.
The flavour was smooth, with some spiciness on the finish, and the warmth I smelled carried over. It was beautifully full flavoured, which I love – this is a confident wine!
I know it probably sounds pretentious, but I often swish the wine around in my mouth a bit to see what other flavours might present themselves when I do. When I did this with this wine I get some fruit! Dried red fruit I think – cherries or cassis maybe – definitely dried though, because the flavour tastes pretty concentrated.
Does this wine match up? Oh yes! Very pleasantly too – this wine smells and tastes like a textbook Tempranillo. I really loved it! I have a soft spot for wines that taste like a cowboy hanging out on a ranch, and this is definitely that.
I’m so grateful to my to my Stepdad for giving me this wonderful wine!
Next up – The beginning of the home stretch with Cabernet Sauvignon!