Thursday, November 10, 2016

Tempranillo Day & Hacienda Lopez de Haro Rioja

Today is International Tempranillo Day, a celebration of the Tempranillo grape wherever it is being grown and made into wine. This celebration was first organized by the Tempranillo Advocates Producers & Amigos Society (TAPAS) in 2011.

TAPAS states: "Tempranillo, indigenous to Spain and used in the great Rioja and Ribera del Duero wines, is planted in 500,000 acres of the world’s vineyards, making it the fourth most planted wine grape, and that would be enough to celebrate. Until recently, this noble grape’s entire acreage was almost all grown in Spain...But things have changed: knowledge of this noble grape is rapidly spreading, creating excitement and a spirit of cooperation among adventurous vintners bringing this Old World variety to New World soils. Tempranillo today is grown in many more countries including the United States, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, France, Portugal, Turkey, Canada, China, Thailand, and more. And that’s why we established International Tempranillo Day."

I'm a big fan of Tempranillo, especially in Spanish wines, but I've enjoyed Tempranillo wines from California, Oregon, and elsewhere. Search my blog and you'll find plenty of reviews of Tempranillo-based wines. And I'm here today with a couple more reviews, of two Spanish Rioja wines which often excellent value and would work well on your table during the holidays. For a little background on Rioja, check out my prior post, Ana Fabiano & The Wonders of Rioja.

Onto the two, new Rioja reviews...

Bodega Classica, located in the village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, produces a Rioja line, the Hacienda Lopez de Haro, which was named after Diego Lopez de Haro, the founder of the city of Bilbao, and his descendent, as 12th century lieutenant in Castille. Their wines are produced using traditional Riojan winemaking methods and the grapes comes from some older vineyards, with some being over 100 years old. I received media samples of a few of their Rioja wines and recently opened them with dinner.

My two favorites of the tasting were the following:

The 2015 Hacienda Lopez de Haro Tempranillo ($9.99) is made from 100% Tempranillo, from vines which are 50-70 years old, and the wines was aged for 3-5 months in new oak. I found this wine to be bright and fresh, with plenty of cherry and red fruit flavors, accented by mild spice notes, giving it plenty of complexity for a wine at this price point. It was easy drinking and delicious, and paired well with Russian Dumplings as well as Fusilli & Meatballs. This is a burger and pizza wine, but which would also work well on your Thanksgiving table. It would appeal to many wine drinkers and is an excellent value. I recommend buying this wine by the case so you'll always have a bottle available.

The 2013 Hacienda Lopez de Haro Crianza ($13.99) is made from 90% Tempranillo (from old vines), 7% Garnacha and 3% Graciano, and the wine was aged for about 18 months in French and American oak. With tasty black cherry and plum flavors, there were more prominent spice flavors, with a hint of vanilla. It was smooth, with good acidity, a longer finish and well integrated tannins. It was a bit more muscular than the Tempranillo but still elegant and easy-drinking. It had a bit more depth and complexity, and is also an excellent value at its price point. It worked well with the Dumplings and Pasta & Meatballs, and definitely would be a good burger wine or pairing with hearty dishes. This wine could also be on your Thanksgiving table. It's simply a matter of preference of which of these two wines you would enjoy more.

Two delicious wines, both under $15. What's not to love?

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