Tag: Vega Sicilia

Mar 03 2012

Australian Tempranillo: Standing Tall Against top Spanish Expressions of the Variety

Posted on March 03, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

One of the delights of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival’s Wine Masterclass Fire in the Belly was the opportunity to compare some of the finest examples of Spanish tempranillo with their Australian counterparts.

Peter Leske of La Linea was on the panel, and I couldn’t help wondering how he felt to have his Norteño Tempranillo 2010 compared to Spanish greats like Vega Sicilia’s Pintia 2006 and the Telmo Rodriguez Matallana 2006, for example.

Vega Sicilia, of course, holds the mantle as Spain’s most prestigious producer. Its flagship cuvee, the Único, a Ribera del Duero tempranillo, is widely regarded as one of the world’s best wines. The Pintia is from a more recently established bodega in Toro. It had all the hallmarks of great tempranillo – earthy aromas, spicy, dark fruit and chocolate flavours with subtle touches of vanilla and cedar, velvety tannins and a deliciously long finish. The exquisitely aromatic Telmo Rodriguez Matallana from Ribero del Duero slowly revealed its deep layers of flavours, which were supported by ripe, firm tannins.

But what about the Australian examples? Even though the Australian wines on show were disadvantaged by being younger in vintage than their Spanish rivals, they displayed the confidence and finesse that Australia’s talented winemakers are bringing to this revered Spanish variety.

The Mayford Tempranillo 2010, from a small, family-run winery in Porepunkah Victoria that is high above the Ovens River, was one of the highlights. Like the Matallana, it is fermented with natural yeasts – a practice that many Australian winemakers are embracing as it helps to impart the sense or place or terroir in the wine. With perfumes of black cherry, earth and spice and velvety, fine grained tannins, it was a beautifully balanced wine displaying gorgeously pure fruit flavours. Incidentally, Campbell Mattinson of … Read the rest

Mar 03 2011

New Generation of Spanish Winemakers Create Renewed Interest in Tempranillo

Posted on March 03, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

On Saturday, I attended a Sydney Morning Herald’s Growers’ Market NSW Wine Festival tasting hosted by Huon Hooke and Nick Stock. I was impressed with the tempranillo wines on offer, especially the Audrey Wilkinson Tempranillo Hunter Vallery 2009.

Hooke was asked why we are only just starting to see tempranillo being made by a significant number of wineries in Australia. He said that, unlike other parts of the world, Australia has experienced relatively low Spanish migration. Consequently, in contrast to French and most Italian varieties, which are well-known to Australian winemakers, wineries have only recently become aware of the potential of this noble grape of Spain.

As with anything wine-related, the reasons for Australia’s only recent discovery of tempranillo are a bit more complicated. While Spain is one of the oldest and the largest wine-producing countries in the world, the story of modern Spanish wine at least is very young indeed.  As Lettie Teague notes in her book Educating Peter, “So much is happening in Spain – new wines being made, new wineries being built, old regions revitalised, and old vineyards rediscovered. And most of these changes have taken place in a short time – mostly in the past decade or so.” For many consumers, winemakers and critics alike Spain is a relatively recent focal point on the world-wine map. (Educating Peter by Lettie Teague, New York: Scribner 2008)

Indeed, the first vintage of the most expensive wine in Spain, a tempranillo from the rapidly growing Ribera Del Duoro region, was made by a Dane, Peter Sisseck, in 1995. His acclaimed Pingus was considered a revelation at the time of its release. Made from low yielding vines of at least 65 years of age, this fruit forward tannic wine was aged in new French barriques for only … Read the rest