A Wine Lover’s Guide To $10 Wine – A Northwestern Spain Tempranillo

This week’s wine is made from Spain’s signature red Tempranillo grape grown in the northwestern part of the country, home to some fine, fine Spanish wines. Our potential bargain carries the not so prestigious Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon Certificacion appellation. Did you expect a Ribera del Duero at this price? On the potential upside the winery Hijos de Antonio Barcelo has been in business since 1876. The vineyard is more than half a kilometer (several hundred yards) above sea level and the soil is predominately chalk based. They practice computer controlled soil drip irrigation. Check out their website for regional wine touring and their policy on sustainability. Today’s companion wine is a Tempranillo with an undisclosed portion of Cabernet Sauvignon from northeastern Spain at a few dollars more.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review have been purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Peescal Tempranillo 2008 13 % alcohol about $9.50.

Let’s start by quoting the marketing materials. “Tasting Note: Light ruby red color; sour cherry notes on the palate, sour cherry fruit with hints of vanilla and spice, well-balanced with good length. Serving Suggestion: Serve with lamb, stew or sausages.” And now for my review.

At the first sips this wine offered a pleasant balance of light oak and acidity accompanied by a touch of tannins and dark cherries. When I nibbled on Japanese rice crackers the taste of chocolate joined the mix but the lonesome Wasabi pea had no effect at all. My initial meal centered on slow cooked beef ribs. In response I got tobacco, a taste that I enjoy in wine even if I am not now and never have been a smoker. This Tempranillo was fairly hearty and tasted of dark chocolate. When paired with the side dish of okra in a tomato and garlic sauce the wine was thin but long. I lliberally doused the meat with Louisiana hot sauce and the libation picked up some of the sauce’s fire. The fruit juice candy dessert brought black plums to the fore.

The following meal was an unfortunately dry barbecued chicken breast with roasted garlic (that’s sometimes what you get when you’re too lazy to do it yourself). This red Spaniard was initially thin but its fruit picked up with time. Alas, its acidity was unbalanced. In response to potatoes roasted in chicken fat this liquid was long but saddled with a tinge of salt. Things worked out better with the other side dish; in response to green beans in tomato sauce this libation was nice and long with some oak.

My final meal was a purchased Baked Ziti Siciliano. The Temp’s acidity was rather harsh at first, overwhelming the dark fruit. It did get better when I swirled the glass. The side dish of leeks sauteed in olive oil brought out a modicum of chocolate; once again the wine suffered from excessive acidity. A fresh fig tamed the drink’s acidity at the price of removing most of its taste.

Final verdict. I will definitely not buy this wine again. But some of its pairings were good. See if you can get it for a few dollars less.

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but definitely prefers drinking fine wine. He teaches computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines. Visit his Italian wine website www.theitalianwineconnection.com .

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