2019 Rosé of Tempranillo by Passaggio Wines, Treasure Island, San Francisco

Tonight’s Occasion: 2019 Rosé of Tempranillo (Clarksburg) by Passaggio Wines, Treasure Island, San Francisco

Crisp, clean, slightly weighty, viscous mouth feel. Crisp dry, firm finish. Good balance. Dry cherries, raspberries and gentle floral aromas.

Perhaps my shortest review yet but for good reason. I was under the illusion I could actually pull it off in the hot tub. Needless to say it’s a challenge to do anything other than just kick back with this Rosé by one of my favorite winemakers off the beaten path. A perfect way to end the week. Nicely done Cindy!

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2017 Tempranillo Reserve by Polynesian Girl, Sierra Foothills, California

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Tempranillo Reserve by Polynesian Girl, Sierra Foothills, California

Ripe plums. Right out of the bottle, a prominent red vines licorice. A very subtle dusty, decomposed granite and wet wood linger in the back. A restrained sense of place. A subtle buttery oak and cedarwood complements very nicely. An very faint herbal note I can’t quite pinpoint lingers.

The nose can be deceiving. Body greets with a big (albeit restrained), weighted, fine grained dusty, highly integrated, tannic mix . It is very dry. Measured oak helps soften and mask this wine’s massive stance. Dry dark plum dominates the expression. A subtle citrus emerges midway and lingers up to the finish As it opens up and the fine grained tannins precipitate, the palate is rendered dry and under an ever intensifying grip. A gentle warmth lingers down the chest.

This is a beautiful execution of a Tempranillo from this region. It has a great sense of place. A massive wine, with with a gentle disposition and fidelity. I thoroughly enjoyed her Tempranillo but I must say I am enjoying this Reserve even more. It is very rich and really embodies everything I love about this region and the artisan winemaker. Nicely done Tatiana.

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2004 Rioja (Gran Reserva Especial) by Bodegas Urbina, Cuzcurrita, España.

Tonight’s Occasion: 2004 Rioja (Gran Reserva Especial) by Bodegas Urbina, Cuzcurrita, España.

Clear intense color. Out of the bottle, soft notes of slightly ripe plum and driftwood leather. Ripe dark cherries, red vines licorice, cola and subtle rocky mineral essence linger in the back. Swirling unlocks puffs of sweet fruit essence and earth notes. As it breathes, mild butterscotch and crisp eucalyptus emerge, so subtle you’d likely miss them. Ahhhhh… Yes.

Body shows good balanced. Subtle acidity brings a slight tension. This is immediately countered by thin dry plum that forms an unobtrusive structure. A barely noticeable touch of oak vanilla further softens the already well integrated tannins to create a slightly silky mouth feel while elevating the fruit. This successfully masks an otherwise dry body. A faint spice momentarily ponders it’s appearance before receding with the rest of the body. This marks the transition to finish as a wet wood leather grows more prominent, ending in moist lips, gentle tannic grip and subtle spice tingling. As it opens up, the body becomes slightly chewy.

This is how Tempranillo was meant to be enjoyed. It needs time, a lot of time. It has had time to integrate nicely and find its balance. I would venture to say it is at its peak expression. This is a fantastic example from a stubborn winemaker who insists on serving wine when it is ready and not a moment sooner. I looked at the 1994 Gran Reserva and recall it was enlightening experience that changed the way I look at Rioja and Tempranillo at large. This wine is currently available for a bargain. The 2000 Seleccion vintage is also available at a head scratching price. Check the WineSnob Watch List for more hidden gems.

Reader Tasting Notes

One of my favorite WineSnobs, Jeremy was kind enough to share his thoughts and notes on this wine. I love it! Enjoy!

Out of the bottle…”effin Yummy!” 😂 let’s see how this develops… 🤔… as I suspected, still effin yummy!!!

Aright…honest initial impression.

Color is striking. It’s bright and translucent, garnet color. Very appealing in the glass.

Nose on first pour was raspberry and cherry cola. Almost tickles the nose with fizziness. Swirl and sit for 15 minutes…if you can wait that long…leather and caramel. Subtle though. There’s something dark creeping that I can’t identify. A little funky…mossy or muddy? Mushroom maybe?

Taste is medium, almost light bodied. Very bright and acidic for a wine of this age. Perfect balance. Fruit is secondary. Rich cherry almost like an old fashioned with a smoky ice cube. Leather. Something that burns the throat a bit, in a nice way. A little peppery. Tannins grip after 30 minutes. A pleasant bitterness on the back that lingers with the spice. (Minty?)

This wine is so good you could brush your teeth with it.

It’s not mouth puckering like a beaujolais, but makes me think that direction.

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2018 Tempranillo by Bumgarner Winery, El Dorado, CA

I am pleased to present you with the 2021 Winemaker of The Year – Bumgarner Winery, Fair Play, El Dorado, CA. There’s a WineSnob TV segment coming but for now we look at one of their current releases.

2018 Tempranillo by Bumgarner Winery, El Dorado, CA.

Dark semi-opaque color. Big black plum and blackberries on the nose. A touch of buttery vanilla and anise lingers in the back. Great sense of place. Swirling vigorously intensifies the star anise, old wet wood and dusty granite leather. As it breathes a subtle ripeness develops in the background likely due to oxidation/caramelizing of those big tannins.

Body greets with a slightly acidic attack, introducing good firm tension to the palate. This is quickly countered by tart dry black plums, blackberries and a crisp caramel, immediately lending firm structure and full mouth feel. A slow burning spice heat works its way through all corners of the palate and down to the chest. Dusty, fine grained tannins precipitate, further anchoring the palate and asserting this wine’s character. Subtle, crisp caramel re-emerges momentarily signaling curtain call. Transition to finish is swift, leaving the palate bone dry, lips parched shut, tingling.

This a massive wine that shows some restraint. Good balance and execution renders it approachable to a broad spectrum of palate. However the finish give its youth away. This wine, while beautiful now, is just barely getting started. Another decade should reveal the true gem within. Get yours now but don’t drink it all. Lay the rest down and forget about it. You’ll thank me later. Nicely done Brian, Jennifer and the entire Bumgarner family!

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2017 Tempranillo by William Chris, Texas High Plains

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Tempranillo (Last Draw Vineyards) by William Chris, Texas High Plains

Dark, semi-opaque color appears unfiltered. Not surprising the nose greets with leathery essence of wet wood and damp fine almost loamy sand soil with hints of granite. Restrained plum skins submit to this terroir expression, almost becoming secondary. An unmistakable licorice is clearly secondary. Swirling vigorously unleashes a punch of licorice, slightly ripe dark cherries, spice and wet soil. Let it sit a moment and pick up a minty eucalyptus herbal essence. A banana peel lingers so faint you’d likely miss it. Impressive.

Body greets with a punch of acidity in the attack. Plums lazily roll in, bringing good balance and structure. Shortly after, ripe dark cherries and a touch of oak vanilla bring volume and a warm soft mouth feel. A spice heat then emerges to dominate the experience gradually intensifying through transition to finish. This has the effect of raising the heart rate and warming the chest. The palate is left under an endless rotation of tingling spice, firm tannic grip, bitter cola and slight palate watering effect likely due to minerality.

This is a powerful Tempranillo. Highly terroir driven. Bold in its expression. It feels a bit wild, untamed, pure, an exercise in fundamentals. This wine should keep the intermediate to advanced palate occupied for a while. Well done!

Thank you sharing this gem off the beaten path with me Jenn.

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2016 Tempranillo by Newsom Vineyards, Texas High Plains

Tonight’s Occasion: 2016 Tempranillo by Newsom Vineyards, Texas High Plains.

Dark, rich semi-opaque color. Firm nose with crisp tannins in the form of dry, slightly ripe plum and subtle licorice all wrapped in a slightly mineral leather. Swirling vigorously adds hints of cherry cola, more star anise and leather turns dusty, not unlike decomposed granite. This is somewhat reminiscent of the Sierra Foothills here in California, one of my favorite regions, albeit more restrained. Nice.

For a Tempranillo, the body is crisp, dry, restrained. It fairly mild mannered. Plum skins and gentle citrus greet the palate. It is balanced front to back. Tart plums and dark cherries provide a crisp, lean, restrained mouth feel over a firm but unobtrusive structure. Faint hints of licorice, citrus, vanilla and sand leather round out the body. This marks the transition to finish marked by a clean, crisp firm tannic grip and a fairly bold spice heat leaving the palate dry and lips parched shut.

This is a classy Tempranillo. Well executed. It is uncommon to see one this well behaved. It leaves me wondering how much of this expression is the winemaker and how much is the region and terroir. Fascinating. I look forward to learning more during my upcoming trip to TX. Nicely done!

Thank you for sharing Angela!

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2017 Tempranillo by Polynesian Girl

Tonight’s Occasion: 2017 Tempranillo by Polynesian Girl, Sierra Foothills, CA

Big, bold, beautiful nose out of the bottle. Ripe plums and dark cherries. A slight vanilla cola intermingled with anise, an all too familiar characteristic of this region. As it settles, a layer of dusty granite forms and lingers just above the surface of the wine. Very nice! Very nice! Swirling vigorously sharpens the anise into more of an absinthe-like expression. Okay I like what you did there Tatiana!

Body greets immediately with an infusion of tart plum skins, a weighty, slightly viscous mouth feel. It is drier than the nose leads you to believe. Oak is almost unnoticeable and highly complementary. Dark cherries carry through. It has bold, prominent tannic structure that permeates the entire fabric of the body with very little separation. I would venture to say this wine can and probably should be aged at least a decade, probably more. The whole melange dissipates leaving a firm dry tannic grip, black currants and anise amid a sharp but moderate spice.

I love how this varietal expresses itself in this region and this Winemaker’s execution is one I think you should look at. It’s different. Interesting.

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2000 Rioja by Bodegas Urbina, Spain

Tonight’s occasion: 2000 Rioja by Bodegas Urbina, Spain.

After a long tedious day I decided to treat myself to this gem. To sort of reset and baseline my palate. As far as Tempranillo goes, this is how it was meant to be made and enjoyed. With great patience, tenacity and little fanfare.

Nose is slightly leathery out of the bottle. Old wet wood and faintest touch of mushroom. Swirling unlocks hints of sweet cherry, caramel, and faint berries. Tempranillo really needs time to become so harmonious and balanced.

Body greets with a touch of acidity that is quickly countered by a buttery smooth body. Those massive tannins typical of this grape have finally receded in the background, providing just the right amount of structure without overpowering the experience. Leather and hints of dark plum carry over. Transition to finish is smooth, characterized by a touch of dry black berries and currants. This ends in a dry tingling palate as a warm spice heat drop down the chest, reminding you this old timer still has a few tricks up its sleeve.

This Winemaker’s work is highly understated. For under $30/bottle this is a real head-scratcher (see link in bio). Pick up a few and study them closely for a better understanding of what you can expect out of a well built, dry Tempranillo.

Bien hecho amigos! 🍷😁👌🏽

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2017 The Red (Root 49) by Naggiar Vineyards

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 The Red (Root 49) by Naggiar Vineyards, Sierra Foothills, California

Composition: 32% Syrah, 32% Tempranillo, 27% Malbec, 9% Grenache.

Out of the bottle the nose is filled with a dusty Cedarwood with a hint of redwood. This subsides a little but remains prominent throughout. It’s oak underpinnings is revealed ever so slightly while it eventually turns to black licorice as it opens up. I expect this from a terroir driven wine of this region however not as a primary note. Ripe plums and dark cherries take a secondary stage. An almost oily granite minerality lingers in the back. Another distant floral note eludes me. Interesting.

Body greets with a dash of acidity. Ripe plums, cherries, berries blue and straw quickly usher the palate in followed by a dash of oak. This immediately sets a fuller, more tamed stage. Slightly thin, crisp tannins provides good structure and balance while remaining largely in the shadows. Body as a slightly whispy mouth feel. Interesting, considering how massive this wine is otherwise. At 14.7% ABV this very well balanced and restrained. Transition to finish starts with dry tannins and a gentle but intense spice heat moving to the front. The duel is quick, as both quickly settle for a truce, leaving the lips parched shut and tingling.

This wine was made in the Vineyards. The winemaker shows great stewardship of their transformation. The hallmark of a great winemaker.

Nicely done Naggiar!

1994 Rioja (Grand Reserva) by Pedro Urbina, Spain

Tonight’s occasion: 1994 Rioja (Grand Reserva) by Pedro Urbina, Spain.

Incredibly sharp, vibrant nose for any vintage, let alone one this old. Out of the bottle, firm crisp berries wrapped in marshmallow caramel. Tertiary notes of damp driftwood gradually evolve into a wet loamy sandy leather. Swirl vigorously to unleash a burst of spice heat which quickly gives way to sweet cherries. WOW!

Body is… well… my friends this is how Tempranillo was truly meant to be enjoyed. A touch of that signature acidity greets the palate along with nicely restrained tannins that have had 26 years to perfectly integrate. A firm, crisp, bold, tannic structure emerges midway and is capped with a thin veneer of black currants, faint caramel, blackberry and tart black plum. A slate-like essence emerges towards the back as crisp tannic structure begins to dissolve into a fine grained dust. As it opens up, this mineral slate moves forward all the way to the nose. This marks the transition to finish. It exits rather unceremoniously however leaving the palate completely dry and tingling with spice.

This is an example of a real hidden gem. A well made, robust wine, appropriately aged and truly representative of Rioja. Incredible!

Bien hecho Amigos!

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