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

by Brian K Miller » Wed Jul 18, 2007 12:30 am

I've only had a few Tempranillos, but I do tend to notice a distinct "blueberry" tone to the flavors. Artesa's version (Napa County) definitely had this blueberry note.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

by Rahsaan » Wed Jul 18, 2007 6:29 am

Brian K Miller wrote:I've only had a few Tempranillos, but I do tend to notice a distinct "blueberry" tone to the flavors..


Overripe fruit and sweet oak?

I'm no expert but the red fruit range has been dominant in many Spanish examples, although I suspect it all has to do with numerous other weather and winemaking factors, like with most grapes.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

by Rahsaan » Wed Jul 18, 2007 6:30 am

Tom N. wrote:I guess I still like Joe Perry's definition of tempranillo's uniqueness the best: "I identify Tempranillo based on the structure, nose, acidity, body, mouthfeel, etc..


Not to beat too much of a dead horse but all grapes can be identified by their structure, nose, acidity, body, mouthfeel, etc.

Nothing unique about tempranillo there.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

by Brian K Miller » Wed Jul 18, 2007 12:04 pm

Rahsaan wrote:Overripe fruit and sweet oak?


Well.. there was plenty of sweet oak on the most recent example I tried (last night, actually). Didn't write down the producer, though.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

by Joe G » Wed Jul 18, 2007 2:09 pm

i have talked about this subject many times, and i have always had similar views as joe perry's. i drink alot of spanish wines, but i have never stuck my nose in one and said "ah, tempranillo".

how i get there in a blind tasting is first recognizing it as an old world wine because of the tannin and acid levels.... what gets me to spain is the extraction, alcohol, concentration, and usually agressive new oak treatment (many times american)... once in spain, you can now use all the basic components and flavor profiles to narrow down the region.

and in case someone hasnt tried them, the riedel tempranillo glasses make the biggest difference in drinking wine out of any of the varietal glasses on the market imo... in a glass vs glass tasting, the tempranillo glass will not only give the wine better aromatics, but the mouthfeel is richer, and the finish is longer, more complex, bigger, and much more balanced
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Jul 18, 2007 2:39 pm

Welcome Joe, good stuff! As a matter of interest, what would one pay for Riedels in your area and are they discounted!?
I just paid $34 Cdn for the riesling/chianti glass.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

by Joe G » Wed Jul 18, 2007 2:49 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:Welcome Joe, good stuff! As a matter of interest, what would one pay for Riedels in your area and are they discounted!?
I just paid $34 Cdn for the riesling/chianti glass.


the vinum series retail between $20-25 depending on location..... on a side note, you no longer need to specify cdn or u.s. when discussing currency!! :lol:
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

by Victor de la Serna » Sun Jul 22, 2007 5:00 am

Interesting thread, this, but a frustrating one – it seems the final result is "there's no clearly recognizable feature in tempranillo."

To begin with, the title of the thread was "Does tempranillo have a signature taste?", not "Does tempranillo have a signature aroma?" Yet I see that several of the responses (like "i have never stuck my nose in one and said 'ah, tempranillo'") center on aromas, not flavors (which I guess is the more precise wine-related term for 'taste'). This is interesting and partly defines the problem.

Tempranillo is not an aromatic grape variety – far from it. That, and its notorious acid deficiency, are its main drawbacks. But it certainly isn't a flavorless variety. What happens is that many tasters instinctively rely on aromas to describe flavors – after all, many of the 'flavors' we perceive are really aromas that we capture through retro-olfaction (the wine-tasting action in which air is expelled through the nose while the wine is in the mouth in order to better appreciate certain aromas). But flavor and aroma are still not synonyms.

What happens with tempranillo is that its own delicate, slight aromas are easily overtaken by oak, be it new or relatively new, and we wind up not getting anything other than the oak and some vague fruit overtones. The new oak may also be prominent in the mouth, although the original flavors are more prevalent. Then, in 'traditional' Rioja wines – which are the vehicle through which 90% of international wine drinkers discover tempranillo – there are two other, important barriers: if it's a young wine, the tempranillo aromas will be overtaken by those of the other grapes in the usual blends (garnacha, mazuelo, graciano), and if it's an older wine the long aging in used American oak will have its usual effect: primary (fruit) aromas and flavors will be overcome by tertiary (aging) aromas and flavors, so that the cedar, vanilla, and coconut tones will be absolutely prevalent.

In parallel, the flavor also changes. Few unoaked tempranillos (often made through carbonic maceration of whole clusters in Rioja – the classic young 'cosecheros') ever make it to the US market. They show the primary flavors of tempranillo vividly: lots of ripe red berries (strawberries, raspberries, Morello cherries), some dark berries (blueberries, black currants, less frequently blackberries), with frequent notes of liquorice and, in southerly tempranillos, orange peel. No red currants or pepper as in the Bordeaux varieties; riper, less acidic and simultaneously more tannic than sangiovese.

In older wines, whatever the type of oak aging they have undergone (if it hasn't been totally invasive), tempranillo will take on its own tertiary characteristics that are independent of that oak – particularly, a soft tobacco leaf character that will accompany but not fully supersede the red fruit component.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

by Thomas » Sun Jul 22, 2007 9:16 am

Victor de la Serna wrote:Interesting thread, this, but a frustrating one – it seems the final result is "there's no clearly recognizable feature in tempranillo."

To begin with, the title of the thread was "Does tempranillo have a signature taste?", not "Does tempranillo have a signature aroma?" Yet I see that several of the responses (like "i have never stuck my nose in one and said 'ah, tempranillo'") center on aromas, not flavors (which I guess is the more precise wine-related term for 'taste'). This is interesting and partly defines the problem.

Tempranillo is not an aromatic grape variety – far from it. That, and its notorious acid deficiency, are its main drawbacks. But it certainly isn't a flavorless variety. What happens is that many tasters instinctively rely on aromas to describe flavors – after all, many of the 'flavors' we perceive are really aromas that we capture through retro-olfaction (the wine-tasting action in which air is expelled through the nose while the wine is in the mouth in order to better appreciate certain aromas). But flavor and aroma are still not synonyms.

What happens with tempranillo is that its own delicate, slight aromas are easily overtaken by oak, be it new or relatively new, and we wind up not getting anything other than the oak and some vague fruit overtones. The new oak may also be prominent in the mouth, although the original flavors are more prevalent. Then, in 'traditional' Rioja wines – which are the vehicle through which 90% of international wine drinkers discover tempranillo – there are two other, important barriers: if it's a young wine, the tempranillo aromas will be overtaken by those of the other grapes in the usual blends (garnacha, mazuelo, graciano), and if it's an older wine the long aging in used American oak will have its usual effect: primary (fruit) aromas and flavors will be overcome by tertiary (aging) aromas and flavors, so that the cedar, vanilla, and coconut tones will be absolutely prevalent.

In parallel, the flavor also changes. Few unoaked tempranillos (often made through carbonic maceration of whole clusters in Rioja – the classic young 'cosecheros') ever make it to the US market. They show the primary flavors of tempranillo vividly: lots of ripe red berries (strawberries, raspberries, Morello cherries), some dark berries (blueberries, black currants, less frequently blackberries), with frequent notes of liquorice and, in southerly tempranillos, orange peel. No red currants or pepper as in the Bordeaux varieties; riper, less acidic and simultaneously more tannic than sangiovese.

In older wines, whatever the type of oak aging they have undergone (if it hasn't been totally invasive), tempranillo will take on its own tertiary characteristics that are independent of that oak – particularly, a soft tobacco leaf character that will accompany but not fully supersede the red fruit component.


Good information, Victor. Thanks.

My only shock through this thread is to discover that Riedel has glasses for Tempranillo. That company certainly has a fantastic business model. They must have figured out the number of grape varieties in the world and then said, "WOW, we can create glasses for each one, and then maybe start creating glasses for each and every blend known to the universe!"

Wish I had thought of that...
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

by Howie Hart » Sun Jul 22, 2007 9:36 am

Thomas wrote:Good information, Victor. Thanks.

My only shock through this thread is to discover that Riedel has glasses for Tempranillo. That company certainly has a fantastic business model. They must have figured out the number of grape varieties in the world and then said, "WOW, we can create glasses for each one, and then maybe start creating glasses for each and every blend known to the universe!"

Wish I had thought of that...

In this thread by Otto, I noted similarities between the Riedel Red Wine glass and the Tempranillo. I don't know how much of a difference it makes. :?
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

by Victorwine » Sun Jul 22, 2007 12:08 pm

I agree with Victor, grape varieties fall into different categories. Aromatic, those grapes which posses a lot of primary fruit aromas, basically these grapes themselves are very aromatic and taste almost like the wine that they produce. (With this said, however, they must be handled and fermented in such a way to let these primary aromas dominate). Next there are those which posses ‘Secondary Aromas”, (this is where I would place Tempranillo) these grapes posses certain pre-cursors, which gives the finished wine its characteristic profile. (Again, however they must be handled and fermented in such a way to let these pre-cursors develop). Finally, but not last, there are those grapes which are fairly neutral, basically these grapes might have special attributes, color, tannin, acid, etc and might be used for blending. Depending upon how these grapes are handled and fermented, the wine can take on any characteristic profile imposed upon it. Lastly, we have those grapes which produce wines that don’t have a ‘great mass appeal”. (They might have a local following).
I like Victor’s description on how the wine undergoes a characteristic profile change as it evolves. The primary or secondary flavors and aromas of all its components intermarry as the finish wine is “assembled” or blended and allowed to rest. (Another thing to consider if a co-fermentation was conducted the result will be different). As a wine undergoes bulk aging and how “bulk aging” aromas and flavors intermarry with primary and secondary aromas and flavors. Finally as the wine is bottle aged and how “bottle aging” aromas and flavors intermarry with bulk aging, primary, and secondary aromas and flavors. With this said each bottle of wine can have a slightly different characteristic profile

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

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Jul 22, 2007 10:16 pm

All of this is great info Victor. Thanks, I have really learnt something from this thread. Looks like an Open Mike: Tempranillo is on the horizon eh?!!!
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

by Tom N. » Mon Jul 23, 2007 10:05 pm

Hi Bob,

I would support a tempranillo open mike!

To the two Victors. Great posts. That is what I like about this forum, there is so much expertise that seems to come from all over the world, I just find myself learning more and more. I just love it! :D
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

by John Fiola » Mon Jul 23, 2007 10:16 pm

K,
All it takes is a little practice - a little patience - and a whole lot of wine :D

My Palate isn't as refined as others, but over time, I've at least been able to develop what one might call "broad strokes" ( if I might steal a painting term). In Tasting a whole lot of different wines and developing your own vocabulary of the tastes, you will develop your own palate.

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

by Howie Hart » Mon Jul 23, 2007 10:33 pm

Hoke wrote:
Rahsaan wrote:
Hoke wrote:
some weird variety like Muscat


Excuse me?


You're excused..

For apparently not thinking that Muscat is a quirky grape.


Well, in ampelographical terms, it's been around for a whole hell of a lot longer than your upstart Cabernets and bastard Chardonnays (Gouais, anyone?).

It has a storied history---and pre-history history--- and has been celebrated by the Greeks and Romans in antiquity, enjoying sufficient popularity to spread through pretty much all the wine-growing cultures. It has also managed to be a constituent grape in a vast range of superb wines...as well as more than a few mediocre ones, sure.

You seem to be intent on pursuing a nebulous and vague, virtually indefinable (or at best infinitely multi-definitional) phantom of a "noble" grape variety, yet put one of the oldest of the old world wine grapes into nothing more than the 'weird and quirky' category, dismissing it from consideration?

As best as I can tell, you seem to include as one of the characteristics of a "noble" variety the ability to impart a distinctive quality from the grape to the wine. Does Muscat not do this...and in such a way to put other varieties to shame? I would imagine popularity would have to come in to play as well, since unpopular wines would by definition not stay around long enough, or be widespread enough, to become "noble" in the first place? And is Muscat not one of the most widely propagated grapes around the world, in ubiquity of locations if not always in volume?

It might interest you to know that many wine writers/catalogers include in their lineup of "noble" varieties, the grape Semillon. I would say that Muscat would be a far superior candidate for inclusion into the club of nobility than Semillon.

But Muscat quirky? Yeah. As if all those multi-generational inbreeders and social parasites we call the nobility weren't quirky as well? :wink:

FYI, before you continue this discussion any further, you probably ought to drop the misnomer "noble" and come up with a better word, else you will never be able to define your terms and come to any sort of agreement (or stalemate).

Sorry I'm so late I reading this discussion, but I've always considered the "Noble" grapes defined as the grapes that are used to make the most expensive wines. The laws of supply and demand elevate certain wines to nobility. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in both Burgundy and Champagne. Cabernet Sauvignon in Bordeaux and Riesling in Germany. What am I missing here?
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

by Rahsaan » Tue Jul 24, 2007 11:51 am

Howie Hart wrote:What am I missing here?


Syrah in Hermitage.

Also, if it was purely the price, then how do we account for changes over time?

The people in Cahors love to tell you how their wine was once more expensive than Bordeaux. But I don't know if anyone elevated malbec to the level of "noble".

Also, I would assume that riesling has been considered "noble" throughout the 20th century despite the sharp nose-dive in price (relative to other wines) for German riesling during that time period.

But, in general I agree with your argument that it is all about perception, and of course in principle we could test this by gathering the relevant documentation about which grapes were and were not spoken of as noble throughout the centuries and then match those results with changes in price over time.

But, maybe someone has already done that?
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

by Oliver McCrum » Tue Jul 24, 2007 2:38 pm

Noble varieties are those that produce the best wines; there seems to be an assumption that noble varieties have at least some capacity to make wines that age in the bottle.

Sometimes the best wines cost the most, but not always. Rahsaan's example of the prices of 1er Cru claret and fine Riesling is a good one. Sometimes a great wine will fall out of style for a while.
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

by JoePerry » Tue Jul 24, 2007 5:45 pm

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

Regardless of what kind of oak, the age of oak, the amount of time spent in oak, the percentage and types of other grapes blended with Tempranillo; Tempranillo based wines are aromatic. Only Nebbiolo can rival Tempranillo is the ability to waft out of a glass with silky grace.

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

by Bob Henrick » Tue Jul 24, 2007 6:04 pm

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

by Victorwine » Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:37 pm

I think you are misunderstanding us Joe, we are not saying Tempranillo wines or Tempranillo based wines are not aromatic, all we are saying is the grape variety posses certain pre-cursors which during fermentation (through the action of yeast and bacteria), during its blending process, aging process. (Bulk and bottle aging. One note about aging, from this amateur winemaker’s point of view, once a given percentage of alcohol is present and the juice could be now considered wine, the aging process commences), these pre-cursors develop into the aroma and flavor profile of the wine. This could be perceived by some as being highly or intensely aromatic and flavorful.
By aromatic grape variety, I mean when one crushes, de-stems and separates the solids from liquid by gravity filtering through double cheese cloth; one can sample the (unfermented) juice and say- Wow this is ________. When it comes to most of the grape varieties and “non-aromatic grapes”, including Tempanillo this isn’t so easy, especially if you are blindfolded. (Got to admit, each grape variety’s grape juice does have a different color tint to it, making identification easier, or you can narrow it down at least. Unless one is extremely knowledgeable and experienced with a given variety this task could be difficult).

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

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:52 pm

Tom N. wrote:Hi Bob,

I would support a tempranillo open mike!

To the two Victors. Great posts. That is what I like about this forum, there is so much expertise that seems to come from all over the world, I just find myself learning more and more. I just love it! :D


You are on Tom, so where/which wine shall we start of with?

Joe, Victor...which tempranillo based wine would be a good starter? One that is readily available and not $50!!!
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

by JoePerry » Thu Jul 26, 2007 11:10 pm

Victorwine wrote:I think you are misunderstanding us Joe, we are not saying Tempranillo wines or Tempranillo based wines are not aromatic, all we are saying is the grape variety posses certain pre-cursors which during fermentation (through the action of yeast and bacteria), during its blending process, aging process. (Bulk and bottle aging. One note about aging, from this amateur winemaker’s point of view, once a given percentage of alcohol is present and the juice could be now considered wine, the aging process commences), these pre-cursors develop into the aroma and flavor profile of the wine. This could be perceived by some as being highly or intensely aromatic and flavorful.
By aromatic grape variety, I mean when one crushes, de-stems and separates the solids from liquid by gravity filtering through double cheese cloth; one can sample the (unfermented) juice and say- Wow this is ________. When it comes to most of the grape varieties and “non-aromatic grapes”, including Tempanillo this isn’t so easy, especially if you are blindfolded. (Got to admit, each grape variety’s grape juice does have a different color tint to it, making identification easier, or you can narrow it down at least. Unless one is extremely knowledgeable and experienced with a given variety this task could be difficult).

Salute


Victor, I can't attest to the simplest juice squeezed from Tempranillo. All I know is that I have tasted Tempranillo of all different ages, climates, Gran Reserva through Sin Crianza, American Oak/French Oak/Portuguese Oak, blended with half a dozen different grapes -- and despite the many different treatments -- the most striking feature of the wines is the aromatic presence.

That's enough for me! :D

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

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Jul 27, 2007 10:32 am

OK so we are off and running with an Open Mike. Sue has just posted some great notes so join in!
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Re: WTN: Rioja. Does tempranillo have a signature taste?

by Hoke » Fri Jul 27, 2007 1:40 pm

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.
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