Usted no necesita hablar español aprender el valor de vinos españoles. During the Society of Wine Educators Conference in Sonoma last month, Master Sommelier, Sara Floyd and Billington Import's Jorge Liloy shared with the group the great value and character of Spanish wines. Tempranillo, according to Jancis Robinson's Concise Wine Companion, is Spain's answer to Cabernet Sauvignon. After spending a couple of hours tasting these wines I heartily agree. The Tempranillo, like the Cabernet, offers structure and helps Spain's reds last. It is a thick skinned grape and is found primarily in medium to full bodied blends. The complexity and depth of color in the wines presented were amazing.
Once upon a time, Chilean and Argentinean wines were my personal everyday favorites; those wines that I felt provided great taste and value. Something I could open every night and not worry necessarily about the price. Finding great wines in the under $15 range is something I always strive to do. The wines from Spain reminded me of the South American wines because of their value, range of complexity and mystique.
The wines we tasted were tantalizing and approachable on every level. These wines had immense color ranging from purple/ruby to garnet and mahogany. There was a range of fruit such as cherry, dark berries, as well as spice, vanilla, lavender. The supple tannins, weight on the palate, and range of finishes were nothing less than refreshing.
If you are looking for Tempranillo you might want to know that it has a few nicknames depending on the location. Cencibel, Ull de Liebre, Tinto Fino, Tinto del Pais, Tinta Madrid, Tinta de Toro, and Tinta Roriz are synonyms for the varietal. It is the primary varietal blended with Garnacha in Rioja wines. Typically these wines are best when they have experienced some oak aging.
Just as there are different names for Tempranillo, there are different categories of wines based on the amount of time the wine ages and spends in oak barrels. Vino Joven wines spend no time on oak and are made for immediate consumption, while Crianza ages for at least two years and spends at least six months in oak. Reserva wines age for at least three years and at least a year in oak is required. Gran Reserva ages for at least five years and requires at least two years in oak. Gran Reserva wines are only for the best vintages.
All wines are aged in the bodega or wine cellar. Once appropriately aged,
Spanish wines are definitely destined for your cellar. Keep in mind Vino Joven wines are made for immediate consumption so do enjoy.