WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby Hoke » Fri Jul 27, 2007 1:48 pm

Bob Henrick wrote:there are a handful (small hand) of California Semillons you can find when you get back here

Hoke, I am purposely taking you just a bit out of context, but With a purpose of my own.

I just recently picked up a bottle of 2004 Ch. Ste Michelle sauvignon blanc and found it is blended with a smidge of semillon. I usually drink my SB's from either NZ or Chile and seldom from the USA. I would love to be able to afford the French sb's but alas! This little $7.99 bottle is easily as good as most $15 white Bordeaux, and the difference in it and most west coast sauvignon is the semillon and no discernible oak. (yes I do understand that there are unoaked Cal sauvingon)


Fair enough, Bob.

Washington state has grown Semillon for as long as it has grown Sauvignon Blanc, and the Semillon is normally blended with the SB. You can find a few varietal Semillons too, as well as Semillon-Chardonnay blends and Sem-Sauv blends labelled as such. Most of those don't make it far outside the state or region though.

I think Eastern Washington is a great growing area for Semillon, and that Sem and Sauv make great blending partners, since the Sem often adds some body and flesh to the leaner SB, softens the aggressive acidity a bit, and adds "bottom" to the blend. Semillon can develop some almost tobacco-like characteristics too, which makes for interesting variations in blends.

Since the New Zealanders don't go the Semillon route (I don't believe there's much, if any, Semillon in New Zealand), I personally believe that's why they are playing around with adding a smidge of oak-influenced SB to some of their blends, to give that touch of roundness and softness and fleshiness that pure cold-climate SB usually shows.

The most controversial Semillon is easily the Hunter Valley in Australia. I confess I'm not a big fan of that style---but it is so distinctive, I think it is a "love it or hate it" decision for most people.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby Sue Courtney » Fri Jul 27, 2007 2:38 pm

Hoke wrote:Since the New Zealanders don't go the Semillon route (I don't believe there's much, if any, Semillon in New Zealand), I personally believe that's why they are playing around with adding a smidge of oak-influenced SB to some of their blends, to give that touch of roundness and softness and fleshiness that pure cold-climate SB usually shows.

Off topic - but - there is Semillon in NZ. I would say with the amount grown in Marlborough quite a bit is surreptitiously blended into Sauv Blanc well within the allowable unspecified proportions. Even Cloudy Bay did this for a while, although no longer do. Wines labelled 'Semillon' from NZ are rare as dry whites - but there are some gorgeous stickies.

Now can we talk about Tempranillo again? Even though there is one Tempranillo producer in NZ (Trinity Hill), it's not Rioja.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby JoePerry » Fri Jul 27, 2007 6:04 pm

Hoke wrote:
I disagree with Victor's statement that Tempranillo is not an aromatic grape. In fact, the idea is ridiculous.


And you would be wrong, Joe.

Victor (de la Serna, and for that matter, victorwine), is correct. Tempranillo is decidedly not an aromatic grape variety. I'd say Victor's description is perfectly good...and as is usually the case with him, well written. But then, the man's a pro.


Can you give me examples of Tempranillo which aren't aromatic?

At least 500, since that's about how many I've had which have been hugely aromatic.

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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby James Roscoe » Fri Jul 27, 2007 6:13 pm

Joe, if Hoke says you're wrong, shouldn't that be the end of the discussion?

Aromatic compared to what? Almost everything is aromatic. Everyone has different sensitivities. Why is Joe wrong? I don't find Tempranillo aromatic compared to most cabs or merlots, but compared to grenacha? I am very unsensitive in the aromatics department. I thought I'd just fly in here and see if there was a middle ground among all these absolutes.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby Hoke » Fri Jul 27, 2007 6:39 pm

Joe:

You have to pay attention to what Victor was saying, not what you think he was saying.

Tempranillo is not an aromatic grape variety – far from it. That, and its notorious acid deficiency, are its main drawbacks.


Note that he said "aromatic grape variety". He also referred to its acid deficiency. Those are characteristics of the grape variety, and how they are expressed in wine.

Tempranillo is not an aromatic grape variety. Neither is Chardonnay, to use a separate example. Victor was not saying, and neither was I, that Tempranillo wines you have smelled/tasted were not possessing aromas. They were. They possessed both aroma and bouquet. Saying "This Tempranillo has some interesting aromas of blah blah blah." is not the same statement as "Tempranillo is not an aromatic grape variety." The latter simply means that, in comparisons with other grape varieties, Tempranillo is not especially high in aromatic components, and is not placed in the category of aromatic varieties.

Look, try this: sit down in front of a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a glass of Chardonnay. Sauvignon Blanc is classed as an aromatic variety; Chardonnay isn't. Doesn't mean there aren't aromas in each glass, does it?

You're arguing a point that was never made in the first place, Joe. That's why I said you were wrong. Besides, with the Rioja that you like, you're not smelling any fruit aromas anyway, just dried, dusty, dead things; most of which have no connection with grapes anyway. :D

James: In case I didn't explain myself clearly enough above, think of it like this.... Different grape varieties have different characteristics. Some are naturally highly aromatic and express themselves thus. Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Gewurz, Riesling...those are aromatic varieties. Likewise, some grapes are higher than others in anthocyanins, so they naturally have more color than others. Cabernet is high in anthocyanins. Pinot Noir is lower, so Pinots are often less opaque and more brilliant, in the red zone, where Cabernets are more opaque and in the darker purple/black zone. Nebbiolo has moderately low anthocyanins so it often throws a brickish orange color. (All of this, of course, can be manipulated/moderated through technique, mind you. We're just talking about natural characteristics here.)

So all of that is why Victor was correct in his description of Tempranillo. Now, Joe was right about HIS description of Tempranillo too; to him Tempranillo is a wonderfully aromatic wine because he thinks it is a wonderfully aromatic wine---he just didn't realize he was arguing about something that wasn't said, that Tempranillo is not an aromatic wine variety.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby Sue Courtney » Fri Jul 27, 2007 7:07 pm

Hoke wrote:Look, try this: sit down in front of a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a glass of Chardonnay. Sauvignon Blanc is classed as an aromatic variety; Chardonnay isn't. Doesn't mean there aren't aromas in each glass, does it?

Off topic again - there's a debate going on here between a couple of people about that very thing. The MW wine writer is emphatic that Sauv Blanc is not an aromatic grape variety, even though the wine it makes can have some of the most pungent aromas that you will ever smell. However on the other side of the debate, the wine drinker/wine writer is emphatic that it is (an aromatic). It did go to print, but I can't find it online.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby Hoke » Fri Jul 27, 2007 7:25 pm

Where are you on the issue, Sue? Do you consider Sauvignon Blanc one of the aromatic grape varieties? I certainly do.

Mind you, there are plenty of insipid Sauvignon Blancs out there, but that's usually the result of growing SB in terribly hot places, coupled with downright bad winemaking. I've always considered SB one of the naturally aromatic grape varieties.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby Oliver McCrum » Fri Jul 27, 2007 7:29 pm

Sue Courtney wrote:
Hoke wrote:Look, try this: sit down in front of a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a glass of Chardonnay. Sauvignon Blanc is classed as an aromatic variety; Chardonnay isn't. Doesn't mean there aren't aromas in each glass, does it?

Off topic again - there's a debate going on here between a couple of people about that very thing. The MW wine writer is emphatic that Sauv Blanc is not an aromatic grape variety, even though the wine it makes can have some of the most pungent aromas that you will ever smell. However on the other side of the debate, the wine drinker/wine writer is emphatic that it is (an aromatic). It did go to print, but I can't find it online.


Sauvignon Blanc is the very epitome of an aromatic grape variety, I can't imagine any knowlegable writer would say otherwise. I'd love to see the quote if you find it.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Jul 27, 2007 7:31 pm

Hoke wrote:Where are you on the issue, Sue? Do you consider Sauvignon Blanc one of the aromatic grape varieties? I certainly do.

Mind you, there are plenty of insipid Sauvignon Blancs out there, but that's usually the result of growing SB in terribly hot places, coupled with downright bad winemaking. I've always considered SB one of the naturally aromatic grape varieties.


Nice point there Hoke. I also find most NZ SB to be quite aromatic but in my book, nothing beats a good Gewurtz from Alsace. Ah well, back to the subject i guess>>>>>>!
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby Sue Courtney » Fri Jul 27, 2007 9:25 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:
Sue Courtney wrote:
Hoke wrote:Look, try this: sit down in front of a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a glass of Chardonnay. Sauvignon Blanc is classed as an aromatic variety; Chardonnay isn't. Doesn't mean there aren't aromas in each glass, does it?

Off topic again - there's a debate going on here between a couple of people about that very thing. The MW wine writer is emphatic that Sauv Blanc is not an aromatic grape variety, even though the wine it makes can have some of the most pungent aromas that you will ever smell. However on the other side of the debate, the wine drinker/wine writer is emphatic that it is (an aromatic). It did go to print, but I can't find it online.


Sauvignon Blanc is the very epitome of an aromatic grape variety, I can't imagine any knowlegable writer would say otherwise. I'd love to see the quote if you find it.


It was in the New Zealand Herald in the Saturday magazine insert sometime in October last year, but that section of the paper does not go on line. I guess I could email the writer of the column who, incidentally, was in favour of calling Sauvignon Blanc an aromatic.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby James Roscoe » Fri Jul 27, 2007 9:30 pm

Hoke, you don't think I was actually paying attention do you? I was just stirring up a little trouble. The problem with the internet is that the "tone" of your reply came off as arrogant. since I know you didn't mean it that way I decided to have fun with it anyways. But you probably knew all that anyway.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby JoePerry » Fri Jul 27, 2007 11:45 pm

Hoke wrote:Joe:

You have to pay attention to what Victor was saying, not what you think he was saying.

Tempranillo is not an aromatic grape variety – far from it. That, and its notorious acid deficiency, are its main drawbacks.


Note that he said "aromatic grape variety". He also referred to its acid deficiency. Those are characteristics of the grape variety, and how they are expressed in wine.

Tempranillo is not an aromatic grape variety. Neither is Chardonnay, to use a separate example. Victor was not saying, and neither was I, that Tempranillo wines you have smelled/tasted were not possessing aromas. They were. They possessed both aroma and bouquet. Saying "This Tempranillo has some interesting aromas of blah blah blah." is not the same statement as "Tempranillo is not an aromatic grape variety." The latter simply means that, in comparisons with other grape varieties, Tempranillo is not especially high in aromatic components, and is not placed in the category of aromatic varieties.

Look, try this: sit down in front of a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a glass of Chardonnay. Sauvignon Blanc is classed as an aromatic variety; Chardonnay isn't. Doesn't mean there aren't aromas in each glass, does it?

You're arguing a point that was never made in the first place, Joe. That's why I said you were wrong. Besides, with the Rioja that you like, you're not smelling any fruit aromas anyway, just dried, dusty, dead things; most of which have no connection with grapes anyway. :D

James: In case I didn't explain myself clearly enough above, think of it like this.... Different grape varieties have different characteristics. Some are naturally highly aromatic and express themselves thus. Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Gewurz, Riesling...those are aromatic varieties. Likewise, some grapes are higher than others in anthocyanins, so they naturally have more color than others. Cabernet is high in anthocyanins. Pinot Noir is lower, so Pinots are often less opaque and more brilliant, in the red zone, where Cabernets are more opaque and in the darker purple/black zone. Nebbiolo has moderately low anthocyanins so it often throws a brickish orange color. (All of this, of course, can be manipulated/moderated through technique, mind you. We're just talking about natural characteristics here.)

So all of that is why Victor was correct in his description of Tempranillo. Now, Joe was right about HIS description of Tempranillo too; to him Tempranillo is a wonderfully aromatic wine because he thinks it is a wonderfully aromatic wine---he just didn't realize he was arguing about something that wasn't said, that Tempranillo is not an aromatic wine variety.


I know exactly what you and Victor are saying, and I totally disagree with it. To restate (hopefully for the last time)

Tempranillo can be subject to the following variables:
Garnacha
Mazuelo
Graciano
Any number of other grapes including Cabernet Sauvignon (see Vega Sicilia or those old Riscal Victor loves to bring up)
New American Oak
Old American Oak
New French Oak
Old French Oak
New Portuguese Oak
Old Portuguese Oak
Any number of regions in Spain
Any number of regions in Portugal
Australia
California
Microflora
Non-filtering
Filtering
Sin Crianza
Crianza
Reserva
Gran Reserva
Gran Reserva Especial

The end result (sometimes with a bit more bottle age) is always a hugely aromatic wine. The only other grape in the world to compare is Nebbiolo.

I agree that low acidity is a drawback of Tempranillo, but I have no clue what any of you are talking about with the aromatics. Unless you can give me an example…

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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby Hoke » Sat Jul 28, 2007 12:17 am

The end result (sometimes with a bit more bottle age) is always a hugely aromatic wine. The only other grape in the world to compare is Nebbiolo.


See. There you go again. You're an entertaining guy, Joe. :)
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby JoePerry » Sat Jul 28, 2007 12:42 am

Hey man, that's what I have experienced over and over again. I'd be lying if I said otherwise. You can mince my words at your leisure and patronize me, but it doesn’t change my experiences.

Now if Victor #2 wants to claim that the first crush of Tempranillo squeezed through a cheesecloth is not as aromatic at the same being done to Xynomavro - I can't argue with that (having never tried it). The problem with this is that it implies that the initial press is representative of the grape. Maybe Tempranillo is reticent in a primal form and hugely expressive with age? All I can go on is my experiences and the common link of Tempranillo in aromatic wines.

If it quacks, it's probably a duck.

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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby Victor de la Serna » Sat Jul 28, 2007 5:54 am

JoePerry wrote:the most striking feature of the wines is the aromatic presence.

What balderdash! Ask any Spanish winemaker about that statement one of these days. Aromatics will be about the last of the features of tempranillo they'll include in the variety's main virtues.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby JoePerry » Sat Jul 28, 2007 11:06 am

Honestly, I could care less what you think Victor. As someone who chose to grow Syrah in Spain, I'm sure your view of Tempranillo is less than flattering.

I will relay your comments to a few Spanish winemakers and see what they say, however.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby Oliver McCrum » Sat Jul 28, 2007 1:43 pm

Joe,

You might as well chalk this one up to experience; Hoke and Victor are right, Tempranillo is not an aromatic grape variety. Obviously that doesn't mean that it can't make wines with aroma, but that isn't what 'aromatic variety' means. (If that was what 'aromatic variety' meant, there would only be aromatic varieties; Thompson's Seedless has aroma too.)

I sort of admire you for taking on a Spanish wine journalist on the essential nature of Tempranillo, though.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby Hoke » Sat Jul 28, 2007 1:54 pm

You can mince my words at your leisure and patronize me,


Hey, Thor doesn't hang around here anymore, so I have to act as his surrogate. :)

I admire your stubborness, Joe, but honestly don't think you have any solid ground to stand on here.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby Victor de la Serna » Sat Jul 28, 2007 2:12 pm

JoePerry wrote:As someone who chose to grow Syrah in Spain, I'm sure your view of Tempranillo is less than flattering.

Would you say, "As someone who chose to grow grenache in Languedoc, I'm sure your view of pinot noir is less than flattering"?

What's this equation, Spain = tempranillo? What's the French equivalent - France = cabernet sauvignon? France = chenin blanc, maybe?

Don't compound your superficial view of things with unneeded doses of childish pouting, Joe. I know what I'm talking about and apparently you don't.

I don't grow grapes "in Spain", I grow them in Manchuela. Do you know anything about Manchuela, Joe? As a matter of fact - have you ever seen a vineyard anywhere in Spain?

For your information (I see that you really don't know much about my region or my vinegrowing and winemaking activities), tempranillo's lack of acidity is a big shortcoming for it in warm, Mediterranean-influenced regions of Spain. No tempranillo of any real distinction is produced anywhere in Catalonia or in southeastern Spain. That's not because we are incapable growers. It's because our terroirs don't suit tempranillo well. It tends to make flat, heavy and diffuse wines most anywhere in eastern and southern Spain - except on some privileged terroirs in western Cuenca and eastern Toledo provinces.

So - what do we do? What any solid 'terroiriste' would do, of course. We plant varieties that are able to produce wines of some distinction on our terroirs. And, to your possible amazement, I'll let you know that I grow, harvest and vinify six different grape varieties - none of which is called tempranillo (unfortunately, for I envy the great tempranillos many of my grower friends are able to produce in Rioja, Ribera del Duero or Toro): syrah, bobal, monastrell/mourvèdre, touriga nacional, garnacha tinta/grenache and garnacha tintorera/alicante bouschet.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby JoePerry » Sat Jul 28, 2007 4:59 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:Joe,

You might as well chalk this one up to experience; Hoke and Victor are right, Tempranillo is not an aromatic grape variety. Obviously that doesn't mean that it can't make wines with aroma, but that isn't what 'aromatic variety' means. (If that was what 'aromatic variety' meant, there would only be aromatic varieties; Thompson's Seedless has aroma too.)

I sort of admire you for taking on a Spanish wine journalist on the essential nature of Tempranillo, though.


Oliver, all I have to go on is years of experience passionately drinking Tempranillo-based wines. If Tempranillo is not an aromatic grape, then I have yet to find one.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby JoePerry » Sat Jul 28, 2007 5:05 pm

Victor de la Serna wrote:As a matter of fact - have you ever seen a vineyard anywhere in Spain?


Why, yes, thanks for asking. I have seen almost every vineyard in Spain. I make it a point to roll around in the dirt, puff up my cheeks and strut around in circles at each one. Consider it a sort of Spanish vineyard bingo.

I am considering buying a few Spanish vineyards this coming year and experimenting with aromatic grape varieties. I just need to find a bottle heavy enough...

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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Jul 29, 2007 10:47 pm

Just to remind you all, we have an Open Mike: Tempranillo going full blast on this forum. I have just opened the `02 Alvear Palacio Quemado and there are some excellent, educational and questioning TNS from quite a few regulars. Join in!
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby JoePerry » Sun Jul 29, 2007 10:56 pm

Thanks, Bob. I will join in later this week after drinking 1947 Bosconia, 1964 Bosconia, 1973 Vina Real, 1970 Tondonia, 1994 La Rioja Alta 890, 1981 Tondonia, 1987 Tondonia, 1985 Montecillo and 1988 Tondona Blanco on Thursday :shock: :D

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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Jul 29, 2007 11:07 pm

What, no Monte Real!!!! Fondest memories of some mid `80 vintages. There is/used to be an ample supply of splits in various London stores.
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