In Europe, wines tend to be labeled by region or style, but in the New World we prefer to list the varietal. Tempranillo is usually the dominant varietal in Spanish Rioja and is great with grilled meats (though I love it with pizza), while Albariño grows in the north of Spain near the sea and is fabulous with briny seafood (what grows together, goes together). Though I think I should do some firsthand research on these in Spain, both varietals grow well in the PNW.
Columbia Winery Tempranillo 2014
(Horse Heaven Hills; $35)
This powerful wine gives off aromas of cocoa and smoky plum. Cherry and other red berries are accompanied by spices and firm tannins on the finish. Pair it with grilled meat and, of course, pizza.
Gramercy Cellars Inigo Montoya 2013
(Walla Walla; $42)
First, recite the speech. Then, inhale the unique bouquet of eucalyptus, blueberry, red currant and a whiff of cigar smoke. Finally, taste the earthy palate with both fruit and savory characteristics. Dusty tannins complete the experience. Pair with grilled steak and mushrooms – and pizza.
Brian Carter Cellars Corrida 2012
(Columbia Valley; $34)
Brian Carter likes to do his own take on European classics, hence a blend of Tempranillo (62%) with Graciano, Cab, Merlot, and Garnacha grapes. Black cherry, coffee and tobacco greet the nose followed by black currant, licorice, and black pepper on the palate. It has an elegant, smooth mouth feel and could easily be paired with grilled meats and veggies. Or pizza.
Valley View Pioneer Label Tempranillo 2011
Valley View’s very retro Pioneer label (think 19th century) honors the region’s first winemaker, Peter Britt, but the wine is quite contemporary. This blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Cab has a lovely light cherry quality with herbal notes. It pairs perfectly with medium rare duck breast and a fruit sauce. Available at the winery or by special mail order request only.
Idilico Albariño 2015
(Yakima Valley; $15)
(See notes in previous Julie’s Wine Jam)
Maryhill Winery Proprietor’s Reserve Albariño 2015
(Columbia Valley; $20)
This may be my new favorite varietal and at this value, my new favorite bottle come summer. Brown sugar, banana, honeysuckle, and pineapple in the nose whet the palate for a taste of slightly unripe white peach, Meyer lemon, and cantaloupe. The lush mouth helps balance seafood and salty cheese pairings. Drink now with oysters on the half shell.