All wines have the potential to delight us, but some even have the power to inspire us.
All wine lovers – at one point or another – have experienced that moment when all five of our senses seem to function together to bring true joy to life. Wine lovers understand that wine is an experience. If wine drinking was simply about “catching a buzz,” it stands to reason that the ever practical ancient Romans would have invoked a deity to cure hangovers, rather than exalt wine drinking to a divine status.
This is why I make wine, this is why I drink wine and this is why I write about wine.
Like many others before me, I have recently found myself bewitched by the Tempranillo varietal. A delicate, tightly bunched grape resembling inky black pearls, Tempranillo has been the main grape in the famous Spanish Rioja wines since the Middle Ages. Silky, yet earthy; robust, yet gentle; savory, yet refined; a well-crafted Tempranillo is a complete sensory delight.
Even Tempranillo’s history appeals to our sense of adventure.
Grown primarily in Spain for much of its early history, evidence suggests that this dark, velvety wine seduced the ancient Basque-speaking tribes centuries before the Romans arrived on the scene. By the Middle Ages, great streaks of lush, shrubby Tempranillo vines snaked along Northern Spain’s dusty flatlands and rocky hill country. Spanish explorers, missionaries and conquistadores carried this grape with them to the New World in the 17th Century and it continues to flourish from Mexico to Argentina.
While Spanish Riojas are timeless, they have seen a recent resurgence.
This is due to the increasing popularity of tapas-style dining in the United States and Europe. With its unique tapestry of flavors, enriched by aging in French oak casks, Rioja provides beautiful continuity in what is otherwise an array of unconnected dishes.
Tempranillo, however, is best enjoyed outside this new context. It’s the perfect companion for the summer barbecue season. It can complement a grilled steak or blackened Cajun catfish.
Recently, I have joined the growing number of New World winemakers, making “New World” Tempranillo. Rising to the challenge to craft a wine as wonderful as its heritage, I was not disappointed in this labor of love.
In the process of crafting this wine, I gained a deeper appreciation as to why Medieval and Renaissance Spanish poets often mentioned Tempranillo by name. I also know why this grape has endured for so long. It leaves both winemaker and wine drinker alike with inspiration that never seems to fade. In short, it never gets old.
We invite you to stop by Island Winery and taste the Tempranillo experience.
By Georgene Mortimer, Island Winery
Hilton Head’s only winery, grapes from all over the world are shipped to Island Winery. Enjoy award-winning wines, ranging from Old World vinted dry toLow Country Specialties. Stop by the store at 12A Cardinal Road to taste their many varietals. Store/Tasting hours are Monday-Saturday, 12:30-5:30 p.m. Call ahead to book your own private tasting party. 843-842-3141 or www.islandwinery.com.