Monday, September 15, 2008


Considering I'm going to another Spanish varietals tasting next week, I better catch up and post about the TAPAS (Tempranillo Advocates Producers Amigos Society) tasting I trekked up to Napa for last month. Billed as the most extensive tasting of domestically produced Spanish & Portuguese wines ever offered in the good ol' U-S-of-A, I couldn't pass up the chance to see how American producers stacked up to the real deal from Spain.

My friend Chelsea and I battled through painfully slow traffic that was only slightly less angst-inducing when we realized it was due to all the families driving their kiddies to the Six Flags Marine World amusement park. Oh well, at least everyone wasn't headed up to wine country! We finally got to COPIA after a few wrong turns that led us through the revitalized Napa downtown and dead-end streets. While the TAPAS event spanned just the upstairs of the wine center and not both floors like some tastings I have been to there before, figuring out where to start was still a challenge. We first made our rounds in search of Albariño and rosé wines then did a return sweep for the reds.

Standouts from the day.... Bokisch's Clement Hills-Lodi Albariño, which had crisp acidity and notes of apple and pear. The lively, bright wine was my favorite Albariño there, and to my palate, closest to the wines of Rias Biaxas. However, it pales in comparison to Eaglepoint Ranch's '07 Albariño, which wasn't at the tasting but too good not to mention! Two other Albariños from the event worth mentioning were the floral & fruity '07 effort from Abacela, a winery in Roseburg, Oregon (where I didn't even know grapes grew!) and the clean, citrusy Ca' Del Solo '07 Albariño from the fun folks at Bonny Doon.

Moving on to rosés, we gushed over the '07 Odisea Muse Rosé, a 67% Grenache, 30% Carignane, 3% Viognier blend from Lodi's eastern foothills. It was the only rosé of the day that we encountered with Carignane, which I'm increasingly realizing makes my favorite pink wines. Notes of berries and ripe peach were complemented by good minerality and a cripsh finish. Another lip-smacking rosé was a 100% Tempranillo wine from Chateau Lorane in Oregon's Willamette Valley, which had refreshing flavors of strawberry and watermelon.

By far our favorite producer of reds at the tasting was Twisted Oak, an irreverent bunch from the Sierra Foothills' hamlet of Murphys, and up-and-coming wine region I keep hearing more and more about (Hatcher from here is also good). We were wowed by their '06 Torcido, a jammy and spicy 87% Grenache and 13% Petite Sirah wine with a weighty mouthfeel and lovely finish. Twisted Oak's '06 The Spaniard was our 2nd favorite of the day. A bold blend of Tempranillo, Grenache and Gracian named in honor of Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride (told you they were quirky -- and I didn't even mention their rubber chickens). A big but smooth wine, The Spaniard (TO's flagship) was a richly layered wine full of earthy notes punctuated with currant flavors and rich, spicey decadence that begged for a decanter. Note to self: Must plan wine-tasting trip to Calaveras County soon.

Odisea's 2006 Temporary Insanity Tempranillo (actually a blend of Temp, Grenache & Syrah) took the bronze in the red event, with juicy berries & cherries on the nose and a velvety taste of vanilla and spice.

We finished up our day trip with a stop in at Peju, where we loaded up on Peju pink (a rosé made from the same blend of red & white grapes -- Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel with Chardonnay and French Colombard -- found in the winery's popular Provence), the perpetually zingy & fresh Sauv Blanc and a few other choice selections. The pourer bundled our case into a box and instructed us to pull around back so he could load it for us, then insisted on taking our picture (despite no appearance of a camera, although I had one stashed in the glovebox). "Say cheese (and don't forget the wine)!"


Stacee said...


Thank you for the great comments on our Peju Pink Wine. Did you know that 25% of the proceeds from the sale of this wine is dontated to the research on Breast Cancer!
This wine was created by the women of Peju because all of our lives have been touched by Cancer and we wanted to give back to our community.

I have been working with Peju Winery for over 9 years for reasons such as I stated above. They are a winery with a heart.

Have a great day and come back again! Stacee