A long moderate season and a cool September allowed the Tempranillo grapes an extra long hang-time in which to develop their complex aromas of plum, tobacco spice, brambly fruit and dark chocolate. The fullbodied palate is dense with my favorite food flavors: blackberry compote, pine nuts, black pepper and rich dark Italian plum. The velvet texture belies its core of structure, which means this wine has the strength to age gracefully. The gorgeous dark fruit fuses with ripe tannin and extends into a glorious sweeping finish.
Plum, tobacco, dark chocolate, blackberry compote and black pepper.
Sam Spencer and Wendy Roloson are dedicated to producing California wines from the grape varieties typically found in the wines of the Rhône Valley and Spain. Year in and year out, these two create wines from Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Syrah, Tempranillo and Zinfandel. Located in the Clear Lake appellation of Lake County, the Madder Lake Vineyard is positioned directly north of Mount St. Helena, perched at 1,800 feet in the northern reaches of the folded and craggy Mayacamas Range. Littered with truck-sized boulders, stone and cobble of all sizes, this is a seriously steep and rocky vineyard with exceptional drainage and north/northwestern exposures. The proximity of Clear Lake and the orientation of the vineyard ensure warm days and cool evenings, allowing the grapes to slowly develop their flavors. This vineyard is planted with a Ribera del Duero selection of Tempranillo. The fruit is loosely clustered with thick skins that collaborate to create wine with monumental structure and inky black fruit.
The Tempranillo cries out for my recipe for Grilled Prime Rib Eye. A favorite at any time of the year, prime rib is rich and luscious and an ideal partner for the wine. Serve with a side of my Definitive Mashed Potatoes and my Spinaci alla Padella (sautéed spinach). For a simpler option, break out a chunk of Parmesan Reggiano or even your favorite blue cheese and a crusty loaf of bread.
Tempranillo may be Spain's "noble grape," but it has truly found a home here in northern California.