Braganini Reserve Trempranillo, 2016

Maker: St. Julian, Paw Paw, Michigan, USA.

Grape: Tempranillo (at least 85%)

Place of origin: Lake Michigan Shore AVA, Michigan, USA

Vintage: 2016

ABV: 12%

Purchased for $21 (Troy Tasting Room)

Appearance: Dark ruby.

Nose: Cherry jam, red currants, cedar.

Palate: Medium bodied. Dry but fruity. Red currant jelly, black raspberry, clove.

Finish: Slightly chewy with a tang.

Parting words: Back in July, when we were visiting the Wyncroft/Marland winery and vineyards, I was talking with owner James Lester about some of more unusual European grape varieties that some vineyards have been attempting to grow recently. He mentioned a few varieties that were being grown and expressed skepticism at whether they could successfully be grown in Lake Michigan Shore. I mentioned Tempranillo (primarily grown in Spain, and he said, “Well…actually Tempranillo is grown in the highlands so it can probably do pretty well here.”

Judging by this wine, Tempranillo can indeed be successfully grown in Southwest Michigan. While no one would mistake this wine for a high-end Rioja Gran Reserva, this is a quality wine, roughly equivalent to a Crianza. It’s excellent with beef or rich pork dishes, from braised beef shank to pepperoni pizza. I didn’t notice any drop in quality over the three nights we drank it, either, which bodes well for its cellar life. That said, it’s drinking very well now, so I wouldn’t hold onto it for much longer than another 6 months to a year.

$21 is a fair price for a Michigan Tempranillo, given its rarity and quality. Braganini Reserve Trempranillo, 2016 is recommended.

Emilio Moro 2007

Maker: Bodegas Emilio Moro, Valladolid, Spain

Grape: Tinto Fino, 100% (Tempranillo)

Region: Ribera del Duero DOC, Spain

Vintage: 2007

ABV: 14%

Appearance: Deep plum with tartrate crystals and long, luscious legs.

Nose: On first pour, the it’s a bruiser, but after a few minutes in the glass it learns to behave itself better. Still, a bit of alcohol shows up but balanced with wild blackberry, oak and creamy vanilla custard.

On the palate: Medium-dry and assertive but not obnoxious. Slightly tart, blueberries, big chubby west coast blackberries and a firm smack of leather on the back end. Very enjoyable, if that’s what you’re into.

Finish: Tannic at first and a little mealy. Eventually fades to a little sweetness and a little oak and vanilla.

Parting words: This wine scared me when I first opened it. It packed a massive punch right out of the bottle and I was afraid it would be a bull in a china shop, to coin a phrase. But when rested it is a very nice beef-oriented red. Tempranillo doesn’t always do well as a soloist. I find I usually enjoy it more when it’s lightened up with some Grenache or beefed up with some Cab or Merlot. Emilio and friends have managed to make a fairly complex, food-friendly, moderately priced red with nothing but Tempranillo. ¡Gracias a vos! Or something like that. Emilio Moror 2007 (and other vintages) come highly recommended.

 

Venta Morales Tempranillo

Maker: ???

Series: Jorge Ordoñez select

Grape: Tempranillo

Region: La Mancha, Spain.

Vintage: 2008

ABV: 13.5%

Appearance: Inky deep purple. Thin quick legs.

Nose: Fruity, slightly dry, dark, slightly tannic.

On the palate: sweet, slightly dry and woody, black cherries, black currant. Has a lot of depth, but goes down easy . Geez, is that all you people think about?

Finish: dry, tannic with a touch of fruit

Parting words: This wine is one of my go-to Spanish reds. Like I said above, it goes down easy, but has a fruity complexity that is lacking in most reds in that price range.

Spanish reds are generally an excellent value, but Venta Morales is a value among values. In most cases it’s under $10 for one bottle. I do take price into account when I review beverages. I try to review wines, beers, spirits and other things for what they are trying to be, not for what they are not. Venta Morales tries to be an excellent table wine at an inexpensive price, and it more than suceeds. Highly recommended, and the 2009 vintage is even more highly recommended.