2 Central Coast Tempranillo to Tempt you on #TempranilloDay 11/12/15


Are you ready to be tempted by Tempranillo on Tempranillo Day this Thursday November 12, 2015? That’s right,

International Tempranillo Day is the second Thursday in November which means this year it is Thurs. Nov. 12!

While you may not recognize Tempranillo by name, if you’ve ever had wine from Rioja, then you have tasted this spicy, lively varietal. Indigenous to Spain, Tempranillo is used in Rioja and Ribera del Duero wines,  and until recently almost all of it was grown in Spain. (Read reviews of Rioja Tempranillo here).Today 500,000 acres are planted in the world’s vineyards, including the United States, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Chile, AITDNov122015rgentina, South Africa, Australia, France, Portugal, Turkey, Canada, China, and Thailand, making it the fourth most planted wine grape.

So you’ve probably tasted Tempranillo, you just didn’t know it because you just don’t always see it by its own name or you may have had it in a blend.

In preparation for Tempranillo Day, Que Syrah Sue and I tasted two Central Coast Tempranillo. Only about 1000 acres are planted in Tempranillo in California making any wine made from it rather special. Tempranillo in California run the gamut from relatively light and fruitier versions like Rock N Rojo or more traditional heavy dense briny styles like the Clayhouse 2011.


Rock N Rojo – 2013 Tempranillo Central Coast Alcohol 13% – Verdad Winery – Louisa Sawyer Lindquist Wine maker – Santa Maria $18-25

This wine is 75% Tempranillo  25% Syrah and has a screw top opening. Usually sold by the keg or cask makes this a perfect restaurant or party wine choice.

If you find Rock ‘N’ Rojo on the menu, don’t hesitate to order it.

Mellow and easy to drink, this is a party wine. Light in body and color like a Grenache, it’s fruity but not sweet — think more tart cherry than cherry cough syrup, with berry from the Syrah to make it more round and lush.  Very playful, this wine says “Don’t take me seriously” but it will win you over because it is a solidly great wine that pairs well with food, especially a gourmet pizza. Drink at cellar temp so it is livelier–don’t be afraid to chill it (but don’t drink it too cold either!)

According to their website, “Verdad Wines are made by Louisa Sawyer-Lindquist at the Au Bon Climat Qupé winery in Santa Maria. Verdad is devoted to making Spanish grape varietal wines that express true varietal character as well as the vineyard’s terroir. The grapes are sourced from organic and biodynamic vineyards and are minimally processed in the cellar.”ve tasted

In the past few years, I’ve tasted a number of the Verdad wines and each one has been a great value well worth checking out.

Note: At this year’s Celebration of Harvest, I was given this wine as a sample for possible review consideration. Tempranillo Day seemed the perfect time to do so!


Clayhouse – 2011 – Estate Tempranillo – Red Cedar Vineyard – Paso Robles — 14.7% alc $35

With a blend of Tempranillo 76%, Cabernet Sauvignon 20%, Syrah 3%, and Tannat 1%, this is a heavy hitting power house of a spicy red wine with plentiful briney plum fruit that’s heavily oaked– it spent 20 months in 100% French then was finished in new Hungarian and French oak for a few more months..

Enjoy this gorgeous, rich, savory bold wine with New York Steak, Rack of Lamb, or braised Lamb Shanks.

This powerful wine almost reeks of masculinity — tobacco leaf, saddle leather, and cigar box with vanilla and clove–and could stand up to anything! Enjoy now or cellar for a few more years.

According to their website, “The Clayhouse estate Red Cedar Vineyard is located 15 miles east of Paso Robles, entirely within the Paso Robles AVA. Sections of the vineyard are within two of the recently approved sub-AVAs: San Juan Creek and Paso Robles Estrella District. The vineyard is certified sustainably-farmed by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. The unoccupied Adobe home, built in the 1840s, and featured on the Adobe and Clayhouse wine labels, is located at the vineyard.” Hence the name of the winery comes from this 150 year old adobe clay building because, they say,

  • It’s a home, built brick by brick from elements of this place … earth, water, sun;
  • And it’s older than our fifth generation family business.

I haven’t tasted very many of the Clayhouse wines save a very impressive Petite Sirah but now I definitely want to visit their vineyards and get to know their wines better!

Note: I received this wine as a sample at last year’s Wine Tourism Conference in Paso Robles with the plan of opening it during 2014’s Tempranillo Day. But there was so much wine being poured that I was afraid it would get lost among the madness so I set it aside for this year’s Tempranillo Day.

In 2011, TAPAS organized the first annual International Tempranillo Day, and since then, Tempranillo Day has bounced around the calendar a bit trying to find a home. However, starting with 2015, International Tempranillo Day will always be on the second Thursday in November: Thursday because most restaurants and bottle shops are too busy on weekend days, and the second Thursday to avoid conflicts with Election Day, All Souls’ Day, Day of the Dead, All Saints’ Day, etc. and will not crowd Thanksgiving.

Tempranillo is certainly tempting to get to know, and no better time than Thursday November 12! To celebrate the Tempranillo grape with all its regional synonyms, simply open a bottle of Tempranillo and share your experiences online with the hashtag #TempranilloDay or #Tempranillo.

So since I drank these Temps BEFORE Tempranillo Day, what will I be drinking this Thursday?

Funny thing that — I was invited (along with 11 other wine writers) to participate in an online tasting of three premium wines from Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery with winemaker Sarah Quider Thursday, November 12 at 5 p.m. PST.  Rhonda and Don Carano, owners of Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery, chose three of their favorite holiday wines so we will be tasting and tweeting about their 2012 Reserve Chardonnay from Carneros (SRP $38), 2013 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir (SRP $36), and the 2012 Tresor Red Blend ($52).

And if I am tempted by Tempranillo Day to open another bottle of wine, The Spaniard from Twisted Oak might be the one calling my name…

What’s after Tempranillo Day? Zinfandel Day on Weds. Nov. 18 — just in time for Thanksgiving! Guess what my favorite pairing is for Thanksgiving turkey dinner? ZINFANDEL? Yep!

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