Although many people think of California as the home of buttery Chardonnay or high-octane Cabernet Sauvignon—or worse yet, White Zin—the number of grape varieties grown in the state is truly amazing. California’s first vineyard was planted by Spanish Jesuit missionaries near present-day San Francisco in 1683, and the state’s first successful vineyard was planted by Spanish priest Father Junipero Serra, known as “The Father of California Wine.” This vineyard was started in 1799, when the Province of California was part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. While the original variety, Mission grape, is rarely used for fine wine today, the tradition of Spanish grapes in California continues. Tempranillo is widely grown in several regions throughout the state, and we even found a version of Monastrell, which otherwise makes its home in the Jumilla region of Spain.
Burbank Ranch Tempranillo 2011 from Paso Robles is intensely colored with aromas of black raspberry, black cherry, and saddle leather. In the mouth it has rich berry flavors accented by a touch of tobacco leaf. Pair this delightful wine with grilled meats, guisos, and strong flavored cheeses.
Ken Volk John Smith Vineyard Tempranillo 2009 from Paso Robles is garnet colored with a heady bouquet of black plum, black raspberry, and enticing earthiness. It’s medium bodied on the palate with great fruit flavors and a pleasantly strong tannic backbone. The finish is long and sexy and invites you in for another sip.
Loco Tempranillo 2010 from Cypher Winery in Paso Robles has notes of saddle leather, tobacco leaf, and preserved fruits of the wood in its complex bouquet. In the mouth, you find voluptuous mouthfeel and rich powerful tannins as well as flavors of red raspberry, cherry vanilla, caramel, and dried plums. The finish is long and luxurious with nice savory notes that hit the back of your throat making this a perfect wine next time you plan an asado.
Broken Earth Winery Tempranillo 2010 from Paso Robles is garnet to purple in color with aromas of red berries, dark baking spices, and a touch of earth. It’s got a nice balance of fruit sweetness and acidity and it is generous and round in the mouth. Pair this with your next arroz con pollo.
Bokisch Vineyards Monastrell Belle Colline Vineyard 2012 from Lodi, California is very sophisticated and savory with pronounced aromas of cherry, cranberry, and violet. In the mouth the rich flavors of bright raspberry, ripe blackberry, and creamy milk chocolate dance the tango on your palate. Think about firing up the parilla and grilling a tender ojo de bife to pair with this yummy wine.
Fields Family Tempranillo 2011 from the Mokelumne River AVA in Lodi is bright, fresh and approachable. It has flavors of red cherry and red raspberry. It sees twenty months of ageing in oak barrels so it’s soft and round in the mouth. We had a glass with homemade gambas pil pil and couldn’t have been happier.
Riaza Tempranillo 2011 from Lodi, California is made from 100% Tempranillo grapes and has seductive aromas of black cherry, raspberry, and boysenberry. It’s medium bodied with delightful fruit flavors, excellent acidity, and a nice long finish. We love it with strong cheeses like Idiazabal from Pais Vasco.
South Coast Winery Tempranillo 2012 from Temecula, California has aromas of bright cherry, vanilla, spice, and bramble. There’s a nice ratio of fruit sweetness to acidity making this a good wine to drink on its own or pair with light cuisine.