An aromatic mosaic of dark fruit, pipe tobacco, dark-roast coffee, black pepper, star anise and jasmine tea introduces a palate asserting rich blackberry flavors, rounded tannins and balanced acidity. Medium bodied with ultra-smooth texture and a soft mouthfeel, the wine finishes long and clean with blueberry, vanilla and toasted oak.
Tempranillo has been the principle grape of the Rioja province in north-central Spain for centuries, but today it is found in parts of Australia, North and South America, and South Africa.
Tempranillo can be successful grown in hot climates, but it excels when cool nights offset daytime heat. At 1,500 feet of elevation, Rioja’s high plateau provides the cold nights that work in concert with lean rocky soils to produce full-bodied wines with dark fruit, earth, leather and herbs. Typically harsh in their youth, the wines are aged for three to five years in neutral barrels until their tannins soften.
In contrast to Rioja, many New World regions have less extreme conditions. Such is the case in the Clements Hills AVA, a renowned wine region above Lodi on the banks of the Mokelumne River.
Lewis Vineyard was planted in 1980 at 600 feet of elevation in well-drained rocky red soils. The area is mostly dry during the summer with warm-to-hot days and cool evenings produced by regular breezes from the Sacramento River delta. These conditions create fruit-forward wines with approachable tannins that require less barrel aging than their Rioja counterparts.
Vintage 2010 produced an average size crop with full flavors and ideal acidity, but the cool year had winemakers wondering if grapes would ever ripen. Heavy rain in January and February was followed by a cold, wet March that delayed budbreak, bloom and berry set. April and May were drier, but the ripening curve remained flat under cool conditions. June, July and August saw persistent morning fog burning off to warmer afternoons. The coolness finally broke with a heat spike in late August followed by two more in September. Many vineyards were picked after the second of three storms in October with winemakers rejoicing the quality of a delayed harvest that was nearly “washed away”.