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by Fred McMillin
Stuck in the Jug
"Tempranillo is Spain's indigenous superstar...the principal grape of the Rioja reds."
...Stuart Walton, The Complete Guide to Wine
Imagine you are a Tempranillo vine (also called "Valdepenas"). It is 1905 and University of California Professor Fredrick Bioletti is leading the charge to bring you to California. You know you will knock the sox off the vintners there.
The Ultimate Humiliation
What developed? It now is 1975, and there are 2,500 acres of your progeny. But, they are all perspiring in the hot Central Valley. The resulting red wine is lost in blends sold in half-gallon containers with a single-finger handle. Tempranillo was stuck in the jug!
Clos du Bois to the Rescue
It was not lost on Clos du Bois that even in Spain, Tempranillo loses its charm when planted in the lower, warmer regions of Rioja. Why not give it a shot in cooler Sonoma County? So,in 1990 they purchased cuttings from U.C.-Davis and planted a four-acre block in their River Oaks Vineyard, Alexander Valley. The first bottling was released two years ago (see label). About the label, it shows a photo of my long-time friend, Inez Ferrari, who was retiring from du Bois at the time.
When the vines reached their eighth year (1998), Winemaker Margaret Davenport had enough fruit to make her first vintage-dated Tempranillo, the 1998 Reserve. It was released last September. I let it settle down in my cellar for a few months. Then, in our last blind tasting we compared it with a Tempranillo-dominated Marques de Arienzo Rioja. They received identical ratings of 86. Clearly, Clos du Bois has helped the grape escape from the jug.
It is our...
Wine of the Week
1998 Tempranillo (tem-prah-nee-yoh)
Last week I was talking with Monterey varietal pioneer Doug Meador (see WineWeek, Jan. 18, 2001). He told me his work indicated the next hot-button wine grape in California was going to be Tempranillo!
Note:—Another Exotic Grape
Wine historian Charles Sullivan says the Nègrette varietal came to California in 1882 from southwest France. The De Rose Vineyards have now turned out a modern model, which we'll taste shortly. If it's as good as their 100-year-old-vine Zinfandel, we're in for a treat. For all the scoop, contact Joe Gargiulo, phone (707) 762-2700, FAX (707) 658-0032,e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
This page created March 2001