Spring 2015

Tasting Results: Northwest Tempranillo

When we decided to put together a tasting of Pacific Northwest Tempranillos, we figured we might receive as many as 40 examples. That would be a nice, easy judging.

That we received twice that many is astonishing and speaks loudly about the state of the Northwest wine industry, namely that winemakers and grape growers are willing to take a chance and experiment with out-of-the-mainstream varieties.

Tempranillo is a red grape most famously grown in Spain’s Rioja region. In nearby Portugal, it goes by the name Tinta Roriz.

Though Tempranillo has been grown in California for about a century, it’s a relative newcomer to the Pacific Northwest. Mike Sauer, owner of Red Willow Vineyard in the western Yakima Valley, gets credit for planting the region’s first Tempranillo when he put a bit in the ground in 1993. He planted 40 vines as an experiment, just to see how it might grow in an area known for warm, arid summers and cold winters.

“We’re really pushing the southern Mediterranean limit here,” he said. “But it seems like we’ve survived reasonably well. I don’t remember it being frozen out.”

Sauer is perhaps best known for planting the first Syrah in Washington in 1986, and while he likes Tempranillo, he doesn’t see it as much more than a niche grape.

“It’s a novelty,” Sauer said. “I don’t see it ever competing with Syrah.”

Sauer’s assessment is correct, for even though we received a significant number of Tempranillos, the total case production was just 20,000 cases. Thus, most of these wines are being sold directly to wineries’ club members or at tasting rooms — and rarely at retail stores.

All of Sauer’s Tempranillo goes to Eight Bells, a boutique winery in north Seattle. Owners Tim Bates, Andy Shepherd and Frank Michiels get just enough for a single barrel, and the resulting 25 cases sell quickly to their wine club members.

Interestingly, the soon-to-be-released Eight Bells 2013 Tempranillo finished atop this judging, and the 2012 also earned our top “Outstanding!” rating.

In Oregon, Tempranillo arrived with Earl and Hilda Jones, who spent many years trying to find the right climate for growing their favorite grape. The moved across the country in 1994 from Florida, planted Tempranillo in 1995 near the Umpqua Valley town of Winston and made the Northwest’s first varietal Tempranillo in 1997. The remarkable 2005 vintage allowed the Joneses to create Paramour — the continent’s first Gran Reserva-style Tempranillo. And they’ve released only one more bottling of Paramour since then, coming in 2009.

Today, the owners of Abacela produce no fewer than three delicious Tempranillos each year, and they have led a revolution of sorts in Southern Oregon.

In fact, of the 81 wines tasted, more than a third were from such Southern Oregon regions of the Umpqua, Rogue and Applegate valleys — all of this a direct result of the work done by the Joneses.

Meanwhile, Idaho’s Snake River Valley is showing its prowess with the Spanish grape. Though just three examples were submitted, all of them earned our top rating. This should encourage expansion of the grape in the Snake River Valley’s arid, high-elevation vineyards.

We also noticed that of the 18 wines that earned our top rating, three wineries earned two “Outstandings” each, showing that some winemakers have an obvious affinity for Tempranillo.

For this judging, we also asked for blends that included Tempranillo. We ended up with 72 wines labeled as Tempranillos, six wines that were blends, and three rosés made from Tempranillo.

Our judges for this tasting were: Heather Unwin, executive director of the Red Mountain AVA Alliance; Mitch Venohr, winemaker for Fidelitas Wines in Richland, Wash.; Gregg McConnell, editor and publisher of Wine Press Northwest; Richard Larsen, director of winemaking for Washington State University’s Wine Science Center; and Ken Robertson, columnist for Wine Press Northwest and a frequent wine judge throughout the Pacific Northwest.

The judging took place in early February at the Clover Island Inn in Kennewick, Wash.

Here are the results:

Outstanding

Eight Bells Winery •  $32

2013 Red Willow Vineyard Tempranillo, Yakima Valley

The oldest Tempranillo in the Pacific Northwest is grown at famed Red Willow Vineyard in the western Yakima Valley, and the owners of this small producer in Seattle — Tim Bates, Andy Shepherd and Frank Michiels — have crafted the best from our judging. It opens with aromas of ripe strawberry and oak undertones, followed by rich flavor of plump red and dark fruit, backed with hints of plum and chocolate. Round, well-managed tannins give this beautiful balance and a long finish. Most of this small-lot production will go to the wine club, so act immediately. (25 cases; 14.8 alc.)

Rio Vista Winery $32

2012 Tempranillo, Lake Chelan

Owner/winemaker John Little is north of the Lake Chelan cutoff between Highway 97 and the Columbia River. He brought in grapes from the north shore of Lake Chelan, which is gaining a reputation as a region that can beautifully ripen Tempranillo. This opens with aromas of dark-toned fruit, toasted oak and a sprinkling of cocoa powder. It’s a rich, full and beautifully balanced red on the palate with flavors of red and dark fruit, sweet herbal notes and a gorgeous mouth feel. (150 cases; 14.3 alc.)

Upland Estates $28

2011 Tempranillo, Snipes Mountain

Grape grower Todd Newhouse and winemaker Robert Smasne combine to craft one of the best Tempranillos in the Pacific Northwest. This beautiful example opens with aromas of dark cherry, horehound candy and a hint of oak, followed by bold, dark flavors of cherry pipe tobacco, blackberry, boysenberry and a bit of nutmeg. This wine will be released in the fall. (47 cases; 13.7 alc.)

College Cellars $22

2014 Anderson Vineyard Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley

Tim Donahue and his students at Walla Walla Community College brought in grapes for the first time from WWCC Enology and Viticulture Department's new Myles Anderson vineyard east of town. This is a fresh, young wine with aromas of rose petals, cocoa powder, plum and dark cherry. On the palate, it is bright and racy with flavors of ripe raspberry and blueberry, all backed by supple tannins and rich acidity. (100 cases; 13.8 alc.)

Maryhill Winery $24

2012 Painted Hills Vineyard Tempranillo, Columbia Valley

Winemaker Richard Batchelor continues his remarkable ability to craft superb wines for Maryhill. This new addition to his lineup comes from Art den Hoed’s vineyard near the Yakima Valley town of Mabton, Wash. It opens with aromas of fruit leather, raspberry, strawberry and blueberry. On the entry, rich and plush flavors of blackberry and raspberry are backed by firm tannins and a lengthy finish. (235 cases; 14.6 alc.)

Raptor Ridge Winery •  $35

2013 Tempranillo, Rogue Valley

Willamette Valley winemaker Scott Shull headed to the warm Rogue Valley for these grapes, which were grown at 2,000 feet in elevation at Folin Vineyard. The result is an intriguing and complex red with aromas of spicy oak, red cherry, white pepper, rose petal and crushed herb. Enticing flavors of strawberry, cherry and cedar are backed by pretty tannins. (220 cases; 13.8 alc.)

Castillo de Feliciana •  $32

2012 Reserve Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley

Chris Castillo crafts the wine for his family’s winery on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley. The Castillo family originates in Spain, so Tempranillo is a special grape at this winery. This reserve-style red opens with aromas of dried leaf, mild oak and ripe dark fruit, followed by flavors of cocoa, purple plum and pomegranate. It’s all backed by rich tannins up front and a lengthy, impressive finish. (415 cases; 14.8 alc.)

Burnt Bridge Cellars •  $35

2012 Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley

Based in Vancouver, Wash., Burnt Bridge is a young winery with a bright future. This Tempranillo uses grapes from renowned Les Collines Vineyard in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. This is opens with dark-toned aromas of huckleberry, black pepper and moist earth, followed by rich, dark, delicious flavors of blueberry, Saskatoon berry, vanilla and pipe tobacco, all backed by moderate tannins and rich acidity. (74 cases; 14.6 alc.)

Vortex Cellars •  $24

2010 Reserve Tempranillo, Horse Heaven Hills

Ed Wicklein brought in grapes from Coyote Canyon Vineyards in the Horse Heavens and aged his wine in oak for an astounding 42 months at his Woodinville, Wash., winery. The result is an alluring wine with aromas of ripe plum, black cherry, new leather, rich oak and milk chocolate. On the palate, this exudes flavors of elegant red and dark fruit, including cherry and boysenberry. It’s dark and smooth on the finish. (150 cases; 14.2 alc.)

Sawtooth Winery •  $25

2012 Classic Fly Series Tempranillo, Snake River Valley

Meredith Smith is crafting some of the most extraordinary wines in Idaho, and this Tempranillo shows what the future of the Snake River Valley could be with Spanish varieties. This opens with aromas of vanilla, chocolate and ripe red fruit, followed by bold flavors of cherry and huckleberry. It’s all harmoniously balanced between fruit, tannin and acidity and has a lovely finish. This wine also earned a unanimous double gold at the 2014 Idaho Wine Competition. (259 cases; 13.5 alc.)

Indian Creek Winery •  $22

2012 Tempranillo, Snake River Valley

Bill Stowe has been crafting wines in Southern Idaho for more than 30 years, and his son-in-law Mike McClure produced this gorgeous Tempranillo. It opens with alluring aromas of sage, dried herbs, black cherry and ripe plum. On the palate, it is bold, dark and focused with flavors of blueberry, black tea and tobacco. It’s all backed by beautiful mouth-filling tannins and acidity. (200 cases; 13 alc.)

Maryhill Winery •  $28

2012 Sugarloaf Vineyard Tempranillo, Rattlesnake Hills

Winemaker Richard Batchelor loves Joe Hattrup’s vineyards in the Rattlesnake Hills district of the Yakima Valley, and this Tempranillo from Sugarloaf further reveals what a special partnership this has become. Aromas of strawberry, Bing cherry, caramel and vanilla lead to flavors of bright red fruit, including raspberry, pomegranate and cranberry. It’s all backed by rich tannins that give way to a plush, lengthy finish. (272 cases; 14.2 alc.)

Kriselle Cellars •  $35

2011 Tempranillo, Rogue Valley

This small producer north of Medford, Ore., consistently is producing some of the most delicious wines in Southern Oregon, and this luscious Tempranillo is further testament. It’s a big, dark wine with aromas of blackberry, pipe tobacco and milk chocolate. The flavors are rich and assertive with big tannins that play well with the fruit. (297 cases; 14.9 alc.)

Eight Bells Winery •  $32

2012 Red Willow Vineyard Tempranillo, Yakima Valley

Mike Sauer has long been a pioneer of Washington viticulture, and he planted the first Tempranillo in the Northwest when he established these grapes in 1993. Today, all of the fruit goes to Eight Bells, a small producer near Green Lake in Seattle. This is a rich, bold wine with sassy acidity, rich tannin and balanced, persistent fruit on the finish. (25 cases; 14.8 alc.)

Life of Riley •  $28

2012 Tempranillo, Applegate Valley

Winemaker Rachael Martin of Red Lily Vineyard named this delicious Tempranillo after her son Riley. It’s a gorgeous red with aromas of pipe tobacco, black pepper, dark cherry and moderate oak. On the palate, it opens with a rich entry followed by delicious red and dark fruit. It’s all backed by juicy, approachable tannins that lead to a lengthy finish. (225 cases; 14.3 alc.)

Fujishin Family Cellars •  $22

2012 Tempranillo, Snake River Valley

Martin Fujishin is one of the rising stars in Idaho’s Snake River Valley. He is on the winemaking team at Koenig Winery and crafts his own label on the side. This luscious Tempranillo offers aromas of cherry pipe tobacco, rose petal, black cherry and purple plum. On the palate, it shows off luxurious flavors of strawberry, sweet herbs, cedar and plum. It’s all backed by silky tannins. (64 cases; 14.1 alc.)

David Hill Vineyards & Winery •  $30

2011 Tempranillo, Rogue Valley

Winemaker Jason Bull brought in grapes from Southern Oregon to the winery west of Portland for this superb red. It opens with aromas of toasted almond, red plum, pencil shavings and pipe tobacco, followed by smooth flavors of black cherry, cola and cocoa powder. Its bright acidity and mild tannins make this a terrific food wine. (193 cases; 13.8 alc.)

Upland Estates •  $28

2010 Tempranillo, Snipes Mountain

The oldest vines in Todd Newhouse’s vineyard were planted in 1917. His Tempranillo, however, was planted 90 years later yet the vines already are showing their ability to produce superb fruit. This opens with aromas of black cherry, blackberry and spice, followed by bold flavors of rich, balanced dark fruit backed by richly structured tannins. (48 cases; 13.8 alc.)

Excellent

Michael Florentino Cellars •  $24

2012 Tinto Fino, Columbia Valley

This blend from a Woodinville, Wash., winery is heavy on Tempranillo, and it shows. It’s a delicious red with aromas of ripe strawberry, dark cherry and mint, followed by round and supple flavors of luscious ripe fruit, dark chocolate and well-managed tannins. (220 cases; 14.6 alc.)

Plaisance Ranch •  $25

2012 Papa Joe's Private Stash Tempranillo, Applegate Valley

The Applegate Valley near the California border is a bit higher in elevation and a bit cooler than the surrounding Rogue Valley, which makes for a longer growing season and fascinating wines. This example reveals aromas and flavors of ripe strawberry, rich raspberry and red currant, all backed by moderate tannins. (600 cases; 13.5 alc.)

Pleasant Hill Winery •  $32

2012 Garnacha-Tempranillo, Columbia Valley

This small winery in the Cascade foothills town of Carnation, Wash., crafted this blend that is heavy in Grenache but still shows plenty of Tempranillo character. It opens with aromas of red cherry and dried leaf, followed by dark and delicious flavors of ripe red fruit. (94 cases; 16 alc.)

Westport Winery •  $28

2011 Jetty Cat, Columbia Valley

Coastal winemaker Dana Roberts blended together a number of red grapes, with Tempranillo playing a minor role in this wine. It shows off aromas and flavors of black cherry, ripe plum, mild oak and dark chocolate, all backed by plush tannins. (158 cases; 13 alc.)

Trio Vintners •  $26

2011 Les Collines Vineyard Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley

Owner/winemaker Karen La Bonte didn’t have to travel far from her Walla Walla winery to bring in grapes from highly touted Les Collines Vineyard. It opens with aromas of mild oak, red cherry and a hint of raspberry, followed by rich, up-front flavors of rich red fruit, mint and a hint of blueberry. (225 cases; 13.8 alc.)

Kennedy Shah •  $42

2012 Reserve Tempranillo, Columbia Valley

This is a label for Woodhouse Wine Estates not far from Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, Wash. This delicious Tempranillo reveals aromas and flavors of cranberry, cherry and red plum. It’s all backed by bright acidity and approachable tannins. (150 cases; 14.2 alc.)

Saviah Cellars •  $38

2012 Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley

Longtime Walla Walla winemaker Rich Funk brought in grapes from three vineyards, including his own Funk Estate in the new Rocks District of Milton-Freewater. The resulting wine provides aromas of black raspberry, Bing cherry and leather, followed by clean, bright, elegant flavors of ripe red fruit backed by rich acidity. (95 cases; 13.8 alc.)

Tertulia Cellars •  $32

2009 Les Collines Vineyard Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley

Winemaker Ryan Raber has crafted a delicious wine from Walla Walla grapes. It opens with aromas of walnut, dark cherry and new leather, followed by bold flavors of delicious dark fruit backed by ample tannins. (100 cases; 14.1 alc.)

Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards •  $29

2012 Timnah Bloc Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley

Winemaker Stephen Reustle is revolutionizing Southern Oregon with the grape varieties he’s working with, including Tempranillo. This example offers aromas and flavors of leather, minerality, dark chocolate, caramel and black fruit. It shows off beautiful roundness through the lengthy finish. (300 cases; 13.9 alc.)

Raptor Ridge Winery •  $35

2012 Tempranillo, Rogue Valley

Newberg, Ore., is a long haul from the Rogue Valley, but winemaker Scott Shull doesn’t mind the drive to bring in grapes this delicious. This red reveals aromas and flavors of cherry, new leather, black olive and maple syrup. It is loaded with bright acidity and modest tannins. (220 cases; 13.2 alc.)

Palencia Wine Co. •  $50

2013 El Viñador Tempranillo, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley

Winemaker Victor Palencia’s first effort with Tempranillo is a fascinating wine from the relatively cool Ancient Lakes region of the Columbia Valley. It opens with aromas of Rainier cherry, white pepper and a bit of oak, followed by ripe flavors of strawberry, raspberry and rhubarb. It’s all backed by well-integrated tannin. (70 cases; 14.5 alc.)

Holloran Vineyard •  $22

2012 La Chenaie Vineyard Tempranillo, Eola-Amity Hills

Finding Tempranillo in the heart of Pinot Noir country is surprising enough, but discovering one this delicious is astonishing. It opens with aromas of blackberry, black cherry, sage and leather, followed by flavors of mint chocolate, ripe raspberry and cherry cordial. It’s all backed with firm tannins that are perfectly balanced with the fruit. (275 cases; 13.5 alc.)

Castillo de Feliciana •  $18

2012 Rosebud Vineyard Tempranillo, Columbia Valley

Rosebud is one of the classic vineyards on Washington’s Wahluke Slope. Because Castillo de Feliciana is a few feet onto the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley, it may not use the AVA name on its label. The resulting wine, however, is superb, with aromas and flavors of spicy oak, ripe raspberry and fruit leather, which are backed by moderate tannins. (600 cases; 14.7 alc.)

Valley View Winery •  $40

2011 Pioneer Reserve Tempranillo, Oregon

The Wisnovsky family has been running this Southern Oregon winery for more than three decades, and winemaker John Guerrero has crafted a delicious Tempranillo. It opens with aromas of Rainier cherry, mild oak and black pepper followed by rich fruit and bold up-front tannins that are integrated with all the luscious flavors. (400 cases; 13 alc.)

Red Lily Vineyards •  $17

2013 Lily Girl Rosé, Rogue Valley

Thanks to its bright red flavors and elegant acidity, Tempranillo can make a delicious pink wine, and this is an excellent example. Aromas of strawberry and raspberry lead to bright, clean flavors of fresh red fruit, including pomegranate and red currant. (375 cases; 13.4 alc.)

Wilridge Winery •  $20

2012 Tempranillo, Yakima Valley

Seattle attorney Paul Beveridge has long been crafting superb red wines, and this Tempranillo shows his prowess with the Spanish variety. This is a darker-toned example with aromas of black pepper, black cherry and ripe plum. On the palate, the rich entry leads to flavors of ripe blackberry. Well-integrated tannins provide just enough grip to provide rich structure. (184 cases; 13.5 alc.)

Zerba Cellars •  $45

2011 Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley

Winemaker Doug Nierman crafts some of the Walla Walla Valley’s best wines, and he shows his abilities with Tempranillo. It opens with aromas of dark-toned fruit and pipe tobacco, followed by flavors of rich dark fruit, dark chocolate and black raspberry, all backed by stylish tannins. (279 cases; 14.9 alc.)

Michael Florentino Cellars •  $28

2011 Tempranillo, Columbia Valley

This Woodinville, Wash., winery has been coming on strong in recent years, and this Tempranillo further shows the talents of winemaker Bradley Sherman. This offers aromas and flavors of Rainier cherry, black pepper, green olive and a hint of oak. It’s round and luscious on the midpalate, leading to a finish backed by mild tannins. (175 cases; 13.9 alc.)

Red Lily Vineyards •  $60

2007 Estate Reserve Tempranillo, Applegate Valley

Southern Oregon winemaker Rachael Martin has crafted a delicious and complex Tempranillo with aromas and flavors of black cherry, dark plum, a touch of oak influence and subtle spice. It’s all backed by juicy tannins and bright acidity through the elegant finish. (100 cases; 14 alc.)

Wind Rose Cellars •  $22

2013 Hunter's Red, Yakima Valley

Olympic Peninsula winemaker David Volmut crafted this blend that is 75 percent Tempranillo with the balance Cabernet Sauvignon. The result shows off aromas of rich dark fruit, pipe tobacco and mild oak, followed by flavors of ripe strawberry, purple plum and rich cherry. It’s all backed by remarkable acidity and modest tannins. (80 cases; 15.1 alc.)

Abacela •  $36

2011 Barrel Select Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley

Abacela’s Earl and Hilda Jones brought Tempranillo to Southern Oregon in the mid-1990s, and with winemaker Andrew Wenzl, they continue to craft some of the best around, as evidenced by this delicious example. Aromas and flavors of ripe strawberry, raspberry and mild barrel influence are backed by juicy tannins and hints of old leather. (731 cases; 13.7 alc.)

Red Lily Vineyards •  $35

2011 Tempranillo, Rogue Valley

This producer southwest of quaint Jacksonville, Ore., focuses almost exclusively on Tempranillo, and winemaker Rachael Martin is dialing in her style across the board. This offers bright, spicy aromas of cherry, red currant and a hint of cranberry, followed by rich, alluring flavors of bright red fruit, including Rainier cherry and pomegranate. It’s all backed by elegant acidity. (500 cases; 14.3 alc.)

Delfino Winery •  $26

2012 Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley

One of the inspirations for Jim and Terri Delfino to grow grapes in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley were the delicious Tempranillos from Abacela. Today, they are following in the same footsteps, crafting delicious examples with aromas and flavors of dusty cherry, rhubarb, vanilla and rich red plum. (186 cases; 13.1 alc.)

Chateau Lorane •  $25

2008 Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley

Owner/winemaker Linde Kester is a master at producing delicious wines from out-of-the-mainstream varieties. This luscious Tempranillo shows off aromas and flavors of mild oak, Rainier cherry, strawberry fruit leather and hints of blueberry, all backed by firm tannins and bright acidity. (125 cases; 13.6 alc.)

Upland Estates •  $28

2009 Tempranillo, Snipes Mountain

This delicious Tempranillo from one of the smallest viticultural areas in Washington offers aromas and flavors of black raspberry, ripe dark cherry and even a hint of delicious blackberry. It’s all backed by firm tannins that give this wine sufficient weight on the palate to pair with rich meat dishes. (48 cases; 13.8 alc.)

Rio Vista Winery •  $32

2013 Tempranillo, Lake Chelan

Owner/winemaker John Little has released this young and fun red using grapes from North Central Washington. It provides aromas and flavors of spicy cherry, ripe strawberry, a sprinkling of cocoa and raspberry, all backed by mild tannins and solid acidity. (150 cases; 14.5 alc.)

Silvan Ridge Winery •  $24

2012 Tempranillo, Rogue Valley

Silvan Ridge, one of Oregon’s oldest wineries (launched in 1979), reached into the Rogue Valley for this wine. The result is a wine with aromas and flavors of dark fruit, including black cherry, plum, boysenberry and caramel. Firm tannins back up all the fruit and lead to a delicious finish. (250 cases; 14.5 alc.)

Daven Lore Winery •  $29

2012 Tempranillo, Snipes Mountain

Soil scientist Joan Davenport helped establish the Snipes Mountain AVA, and now her husband, Gord Taylor makes wines from the Yakima Valley region. This opens with aromas of red cherry, oak, black pepper and raspberry, followed by bright, fresh flavors of red fruit backed by mild tannins. (85 cases; 13.5 alc.)

Alexandria Nicole Cellars •  $55

2012 Destiny Ridge Vineyards Big Shot Tempranillo, Horse Heaven Hills

Owner/winemaker Jarrod Boyle used estate grapes to craft this luscious Tempranillo. It opens with aromas of black pepper, Rainier cherry and pomegranate, followed by clean, bright flavors of red currant and backed with round, plush tannins that give way to a supple finish. (178 cases; 14.2 alc.)

Kennedy Shah •  $20

2011 Tempranillo, Columbia Valley

Winemaker Jean Claude Beck crafts two Tempranillos for this label, which is part of Woodhouse Family in Woodinville, Wash. This example shows off aromas and flavors of black pepper, raspberry, red cherry and fruit leather backed by round tannins, moderate acidity and a lengthy finish. (1,300 cases; 13.8 alc.)

Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards •  $39

2012 Winemaker's Reserve Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley

Stephen Reustle is taking Southern Oregon to new heights in winemaking and viticulture, and he has put together this superb Tempranillo using estate grapes. It is a bold, exciting wine with aromas and flavors of spicy dark cherry, plum, raspberry and cocoa powder. The rich, refreshing flavors lead to a delicious finish. (275 cases; 13.8 alc.)

Valley View Winery •  $24

2011 Anna Maria Tempranillo, Rogue Valley

Winemaker John Guerrero created this rich and luscious Tempranillo that opens with aromas of leather, moist earth, red cherry and a touch of vanilla, followed by bright flavors of cherry, raspberry, white pepper and herbal tea. It is a beautifully balanced red with plenty of length, and it also ranks as the large production of the variety in the judging. (1,500 cases; 13.6 alc.)

Red Blanket •  $22

2011 Tempranillo, Rogue Valley

This wine from Red Lily Vineyards near Jacksonville, Ore., uses a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon for structure and complexity. The result is a wine with aromas and flavors of strawberry, black cherry and kitchen spices. it’s all backed by mild, approachable tannins and a juicy finish. (775 cases; 14.1 alc.)

Abacela •  $23

2012 Fiesta Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley

This fruit-forward and affordable Tempranillo already has earned a gold medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition in January and also has shown well in this peer-group tasting. Aromas and flavors of vanilla, Bing cherry and ripe strawberry are backed by bold yet approachable tannins. (1,383 cases; 14.3 alc.)

Michael Florentino Cellars •  $28

2010 Tempranillo, Columbia Valley

Winemaker Bradley Sherman blended in a bit of Grenache and Counoise to give this Tempranillo roundness and complexity. The result is a rich wine that focuses on red and blue fruits and is backed by bold, racy acidity. (250 cases; 14.6 alc.)

Chateau Lorane •  $25

2009 Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley

This complex red from Southern Oregon shows off stunning aromas and flavors of blueberry, huckleberry and red currant, all backed by hints of mild oak and firm tannins that are well integrated with all the fruit. This is a delicious and lengthy wine. (56 cases; 13.1 alc.)

Jaxon Vineyards •  $27

2011 Tradición, Rogue Valley

Winemaker Rob Folin blended equal parts Tempranillo and Garnacha to create a classic Spanish-style red. It’s a rich and succulent wine that reveals complex aromas and flavors of black truffle, moist earth, ripe plum and black tea. This is a young wine that will only gain complexity with a bit of time in your cellar. (196 cases; 13.7 alc.)

WildAire Cellars •  $28

2012 Ellis Vineyards Tempranillo, Rogue Valley

This winery in northern Yamhill County reached deep into Southern Oregon for this Tempranillo. It’s a beautiful wine with aromas of minerality, pomegranate, red plum and cherry pipe tobacco. On the palate, it’s a big wine with rich red fruit backed by bright acidity and bold tannins. (50 cases; 14.9 alc.)

Girardet Wine Cellars •  $59

2012 Bush Vine Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley

This longtime Southern Oregon producer used a different pruning method for this Tempranillo to achieve a different fruit profile. The result is a wine with fascinating aromas of dark fruit, sage and walnut, followed by bold flavors of black cherry and plum. It’s all backed by solid tannins that lead to a juicy finish. (73 cases; 13.8 alc.)

Best Buy!

Redd Brand •  $15

NV Tempranillo, Columbia Valley

This delicious and affordable Tempranillo was made by winemaker Ryan Driver and is a second label for Tertulia Cellars in Walla Walla. It opens with aromas of black pepper, minerality, black currant and ripe strawberry, followed by flavors of cocoa powder, ripe dark fruit and assertive tannins that lead to a bold finish. (220 cases; 14.1 alc.)

Chateau Lorane •  $25

2006 Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley

This was the oldest wine in our Tempranillo competition, yet this wine from a longtime producer near Eugene, Ore., is hardly showing its age. It opens with aromas of maple syrup, ripe strawberry and mild oak. On the palate, it offers flavors of big, up-front flavors of plum and black cherry, backed by a rich midpalate and good length. (76 cases; 13.5 alc.)

Northwest Totem Cellars •  $39

2011 Potlatch, Columbia Valley

Though it doesn't necessarily say so on the label, this is a Tempranillo, though winemaker Mike Sharadin added just a dash of Syrah. The result is a complex red with aromas of ripe strawberry, dark cherry and most earth, followed by flavors of dark-toned fruit, including Bing cherry, blackberry and new leather, all backed by moderate tannins for a rich finish. (128 cases; 13 alc.)

Delfino Winery •  $29

2011 Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley

Using estate grapes from near Roseburg, Ore., this delicious wine reveals racy red-toned fruit aromas and flavors, including ripe strawberry, rich raspberry and cherry, as well as succulent spices backed by mild, approachable tannins. It's a beautiful and enjoyable wine. (201 cases; 13.4 alc.)

Best Buy!

Tulip Valley Winery •  $13

2013 Off-Dry Tempranillo Rosé, Yakima Valley

This luscious rosé has a bit of residual sugar at 1.5% that makes this a refreshing wine to enjoy with somewhat spicy foods such as chorizo. It opens with aromas of strawberry-rhubarb pie and bright spice, followed by clean, refreshing flavors of red currant and pomegranate. (100 cases; 12.5 alc.)

Martin-Scott Winery •  $24

2012 Tempranillo, Columbia Valley

Owner/winemaker Mike Scott crafts a number of delicious wines at his facility in East Wenatchee, Wash. This Tempranillo offers aromas and flavors of mint chocolate, purple plum, blackberry and a hint of oak. It is a rich wine to pair with spicy meat dishes. (86 cases; 13.5 alc.)

Jaxon Vineyards •  $19

2011 La Brisa Tempranillo, Rogue Valley

Winemaker Rob Folin produced this affordable Tempranillo at his winery near Medford, Ore., to be enjoyed for any occasion. It's a rich and succulent red with aromas and flavors of blueberry, blackberry, black cherry and fruit leather backed by approachable tannins and well-balanced acidity. (196 cases; 13 alc.)

Recommended

Ledger David Cellars •  $46

2010 Reserve Tempranillo, Rogue Valley

This winery in Central Point, Ore., has crafted a delicious and approachable red with aromas and flavors of exotic dark spices, dark-toned fruit and rich tannins. (60 cases; 14.7 alc.)

Jaxon Vineyards •  $27

2011 Tempranillo, Rogue Valley

Here is a luscious and approachable Tempranillo with aromas and flavors of black cherry, pipe tobacco and plump red fruit backed by youthful tannins. (196 cases; 13.2 alc.)

Alexandria Nicole Cellars •  $55

2013 Destiny Ridge Vineyards Big Shot Tempranillo, Horse Heaven Hills

This is a young wine that is still coming around, but it shows plenty of promise, thanks to supple aromas and flavors of raspberry, vanilla, white pepper and Rainier cherry. It’s surrounded by smooth tannins. (183 cases; 14.4 alc.)

Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards •  $38

2013 Winemaker's Reserve Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley

The warm 2013 vintage helped this young red reveal aromas and flavors of cherry-rhubarb jam, pipe tobacco and dried herbs backed by rich tannins and a hint of strawberry on the finish. (375 cases; 13.9 alc.)

Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards •  $29

2013 Timnah Bloc Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley

This opens with aromas of mild oak, red cherry, raspberry and moist earth, followed by rich flavors of ripe strawberry, Rainier cherry and raspberry. It’s all backed by smooth, appealing tannins. (700 cases; 13.1 alc.)

Camaraderie Cellars •  $28

2010 Tempranillo, Yakima Valley

This longtime Olympic Peninsula producer has crafted a bold and complex red wine with aromas of sage, mild oak, red cherry and ripe strawberry. Bold acidity and rich tannins give this plenty of structure. (477 cases; 14.3 alc.)

Tulip Valley Winery $20

2013 Tempranillo, Yakima Valley

Tempranillo’s rustic nature makes it especially good with grilled meats and somewhat spicy foods, and this example surely qualifies, thanks to aromas and flavors of ripe raspberry, red currant and cranberry. It’s all backed by supple tannins and a dash of wild spice. (100 cases; 13.5 alc.)

Dynasty Cellars •  $28

2012 Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley

This winery in Bellingham, Wash., uses terrific fruit sources in the Walla Walla Valley. This is a rich, dark, bold red with aromas of bay leaf, ripe fruit and bold, up-front tannins that give this a lot of length. (120 cases; 14.2 alc.)

Tesóaria Vineyard & Winery •  $38

2012 Tempranillo, Southern Oregon

This winery has tasting rooms in Roseburg and Portland, so it shouldn’t be difficult for Oregon wine lovers to find it and enjoy the aromas and flavors of cherry pipe tobacco, red fruit and hints of leather and moist earth. It has a round and plump finish. (250 cases; 14.23 alc.)

Maragas Winery •  $28

2013 Tally Tempranillo, Applegate Valley

This is one of the few wineries in Central Oregon, and this is just north of Bend on Highway 97. The grapes come from the fascinating Applegate Valley, providing aromas and flavors of spicy oak, black pepper, raspberry and Rainier cherry. This is a bright, crowd-pleasing wine. (231 cases; 14.2 alc.)

Icon Cellars •  $30

2012 Flamenco, Rattlesnake Hills

Woodinville winemaker Jim Garner blended 70% Tempranillo with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the result is a bold and delicious red with aromas and flavors of ripe raspberry and dark plum backed by juicy, mild tannins. (110 cases; 14.2 alc.)

Spangler Vineyards •  $35

2012 Tempranillo, Oregon

Winemaker Patrick Spangler has crafted a delicious red wine with aromas of ripe strawberry, red cherry and black pepper. Bold tannins up front give way to a big finish. (286 cases; 13.3 alc.)

Abacela •  $60

2011 South East Block Reserve Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley

The cooler 2011 vintage has resulted in some wines that are still trying to resolve themselves. It’s easy to see where this big red is going, thanks to aromas and flavors of spicy red cherry, red plum, sage and a hint of cola. (53 cases; 13.8 alc.)

This story was originally published March 16, 2015 12:00 AM.

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