Tempranillo: A Nice Alternative to Cab

January 30th, 2006

If you enjoy red wines, you may recall my suggestion a few weeks ago to take a step off the beaten path and try Lemberger for a change of pace. Although it’s not exactly a mainstream varietal, it’s got plenty of appeal for fruit-forward wine drinkers and won’t cost you a small fortune.

This week I’d like to toss out another lesser-known, slightly higher priced red wine for you to try if you haven’t already done so – Tempranillo.

Tempranillo is indigenous to Spain and is one of the most widely grown and important red wine grapes in that country. It’s produced in small quantities in Washington, Oregon and California and is characterized by medium body and complex flavors. It can often be substituted for a Cabernet Sauvignon in food/wine pairings.

Here a couple of Tempranillos for you to consider:

2002 Abacela Vineyard Winery (about $19) – From Oregon’s Umpqua Valley, here’s an outstanding Tempranillo that begs to be served with food. Featuring flavors of plum, blackberry and cedar, I recently tried it with a spicy stew of clams, Portuguese sausage and cilantro. The match of food and wine flavors was absolutely perfect.

null2003 Seven Hills Winery (about $28) – This Walla Walla Valley Tempranillo is dense, complex and aromatic. Dried dark cherry flavors are highlighted by savory herbs and hints of leather and smoke. It’s a bit of a splurge for something as ordinary as pepperoni pizza, but the two make a terrific combination as an easy dinner. Pop the cork, call for delivery and enjoy!

Sparkling Wine

January 29th, 2006

Argyle Winery 2000 Brut (about $19): From Oregon’s Willamette Valley, this sparkling wine features citrus aromas with layers of pear, baked apple and vanilla flavors that melt into a long, yet crisp finish. Widely distributed and available locally at several wine shops and grocers.


January 29th, 2006

Fairview 2004 (about $18): This wine from South Africa really impressed me with its multi-tiered flavors of pear, dried apricot and hints of orange and citrus. It should pair well with a wide variety of lighter seafood and shellfish dishes. Available at Compass Wines in Anacortes and the Purple Smile in Bellingham.

Domaine Astruc 2004 (about $8): This is a nice, Old World-style Viognier that is much less floral than many with a clean, dry finish. It makes a great food wine at a very reasonable price. Available at The Vines on Cornwall Avenue in Bellingham.

Purple Smile Provides Another Great Wine Venue for Bellingham

January 23rd, 2006

The Purple Smile, located at 1143 11th Street in Bellingham has been up and running for a couple of months and provides local wine enthusiasts with another great venue for sampling and purchasing wines.

Owner Jeff Wicklund has really done a fine job of establishing his shop in the heart of Fairhaven’s business district. Wrapped in nullwarm, earth tones and gentle background music, the shop offers a nice selection of wines from around the world, including the Pacific Northwest. There’s a separate section of late harvest, ice wines and champagnes, with stemware and accessories also available for purchase. Plans are in the works to offer a house wine that will be blend of Syrah, Grenache and Viognier.

One of the best things about the Purple Smile is the large, granite-top tasting bar that features wine tastings from 1:00 to 5:00 pm each Saturday. Wicklund is emphasizing tastings that are hosted by small winemakers, distributors and importers. This is a great opportunity for consumers to chat with people in the industry firsthand while doing a little sampling. He also plans to begin evening tastings beginning in early February that will be open to a limited number of people and require advance reservations.

The Purple Smile is currently open Wednesday through Saturday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm and noon to 5:00 pm on Sundays, with hours set to expand this spring. Call 756-0422 for more information.

Colvin Vineyards Focuses on Reds, Bordeaux-Style Blends

January 16th, 2006

Add Colvin Vineyards to the list of many wineries from Walla Walla that are producing great wines that deserve your attention.

Owner/Winemaker Mark Colvin began operations in 1999 – with particular emphasis on red wines and Bordeaux-style blends – and has already achieved high praise and numerous awards for many of his wines.

I recently tried the 2003 Spofford Station Vineyard Syrah (about $23), a wine loaded with blueberry and plum flavors and a finish that suggests bittersweet chocolate covered cherries. Try it with an herbed pork entrée or lemon chicken with jasmine rice for a perfect food/wine pairing.

Also notable is the 2003 Carmenere (about $23). This wonderfully herbaceous red wine features subtle flavors of blackberry and strawberry with plenty of black pepper on the finish. The wine received a double gold medal from Wine Press Northwest and was also voted Best in Show by attendees at the Bellingham Bay Rotary Club Grape and Gourmet food and wine event last November.

For more information on Colvin Vineyards and other wines currently available visit their web site at www.colvinvineyards.com or phone (509) 527-9463.

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