You might say, these Tempranillos can take the heat. It was hot and humid; the last thing I wanted to do was taste a selection of Spanish Tempranillo wines, but I had given my promise to attend the event. Thus, I continued wending my way crosstown despite wishing for an afternoon of cool, crisp whites and rosés. Consequently, I arrived at Michael’s on a summer Friday expecting a selection of dull reds and heavy food; boy was I in for a surprise…
Established by the Parra Family, whose surname means “stalk” as in vine (not as in surreptitiously following someone), the three brothers have been devoted to sustainable farming since 1993. Today, they own the largest NOP-Certified, 100% organic vineyard in Europe – in La Mancha, smack dab in the middle of Spain, of all places; an area regarded more for bulk production than a commitment to quality and conscience. But, in fact, these men of La Mancha are committed to preserving our natural resources, while producing beautiful, well-made wines.
Thanks to high elevations (3,200 m in altitude), the vines are blessed with cooler temperatures, permitting bright acidity to be retained in the grapes. After enjoying a lovely assortment of summer-inspired, share plates – Tuscan Kale Salad, Lobster Sliders and Maryland Lump Crabcake – we turned our attention to the first of three wines on the afternoon’s tasting agenda.
The Vina Cuesta Colora Tempranillo 2010 ($9.00), served alongside a Summer Corn Ravioli dish, was an astonishing wine. This unwooded version of the variety is not only made with organic grapes, but is also an organic wine in that it is sulfite free (no additional sulfur is used in its production). Yet, even without the benefit of sulfites (SO2 is a preservative), the wine was still vibrant at five years old, with a purity of rich strawberry fruit.
The other two Tempranillos were paired with Long Island duck breast: Parra Jimenez Tempranillo 2010 ($N/A) and Earth 3.0 Tempranillo 2010 ($13.00), both of which are produced with organic grapes. The former offered up spice and raspberry notes, with intense fruit and freshness on the medium+-bodied palate, giving way to lingering minerality in the finish.
The Earth 3.0, whose proceeds are donated to restore the rainforests through the American Rainforest Conservancy, was the crowd favorite of the day due to its complexity. It was much less fruit driven than the other two wines, with lots of spice and earth on both the nose and palate.
All in all, it was quite a refreshing opportunity to be introduced to these wines.