The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2011

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Page 108 of 132

WHAT WE’RE DRINkING Tempranillo is Trending THE SPANISH WINE CELLAR & PANTRy SHOWCASES SPAIN’S fINEST WINES AND fOODS by Daedalus Howell / photos by kent Hanson est we forget that parts of America were once Spanish colonies, a cav- alcade of Spaniards descended upon the stately Bently Reserve in San Francisco in a collective effort to repatriate our wine cel- lars. The West Coast iteration of the annual Spanish Wine Cellar & Pantry (a contemporaneous event is held in New York) presented more than 30 wine producers and half as many food companies showcasing their wares for a brisk four-and- half-hour afternoon this April. If the event is any indication, America can expect a tidal wave of Tempranillo to come crashing onto our shores. The flagship variety of Spain, often called the country’s “noble grape,” has made some inroads with California, Texas and Oregon growers in recent years, but Spanish producers, of course, would prefer we import wines resulting from their Tempranillo. This dominant variety, known for its earthy, rustic characteristics and light berry notes, has been capably handled for centuries by the Spanish, who frequently blend it with Garnacha (aka Grenache). These days, however, it’s finding wide appreciation on its own, which is how Sara Agos, Brand Manager of Bodegas Riojanas likes it. “Tempranillo is obviously becoming very trendy here in the U.S. market,” says Agos, who was pouring a trio of Tempranillos at her bustling table. “Tempranillo is becoming a favorite around the world. It’s something that, right now, I think that can be best marketed by opening a bottle and enjoying it.” Agos reminds us that the flavor profile of Tempranillo differs from region to region, and she makes no apologies for touting the Rioja region of northeastern Spain, where the Tempranillo in her wines are grown, as one of the best. “Even though it’s the L Alan Kuper and Sara Agos Olano of Bodegas Riojanas. 108 / the tasting panel / may 201 1

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