Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Washington Tempranillo blend v. Spanish Rioja

The Vuelta Espana finally made it up North and is headed toward the Rioja region.  There has been lots of great racing as the course headed into the mountains.  The latest action saw JJ Cobo take the race leader's Red Jersey and then defend it on the last up hill finish of the race.  Cobo has a slim 13 second lead, but should be able to protect that as the race speeds toward Madrid.

This week's Vuelta Espana Lucha Vino matchup features a 2005 R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Cubillo Crianza v. Washington State Spanish Style blend from Brian Carter Cellars 2008 Corrida.

Tale of the Tape

R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Cubillo Crianza 2005

65% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha with the remainder Mazuelo and Graciano all estate grown.  Aged for 3 years in barrel.

Purchased from Bin 41 for $23.

Brian Carter Cellars 2008 Corrida

66% Tempranillo, 17% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Garnacha.  The grapes were sourced from Stone Tree Vineyards on the Wahluke Slope and Olsen Brothers Vineyards, Lonesome Springs Vineyards, Solstice Vineyards and Eldering Vineyard all in located in the Yakima Valley.  Aged for 22 months in monstly French Oak, 30% new and 70% used.

Purchased from Bin 41 for $30.

Round 1.  First Opening:

The R. Lopez has a nose of sandal wood and light red berries.  The palate is cherries and some licorice and anis lurking in the background ending with a sweet dry cherry finish.

The Corrida has a nose of cedar spices, cloves and currants with some light smokey toast character.  The palate is currants, Asian spices, espresso and semi-sweet chocolate lingering on to a dry finish. 

Both luchadors came into the ring showing some interesting character.  The Corrida lived up to its meaning in Spanish - "Bull Fight" with a flourish of the red cape and some fancy footwork represented in the variety of characteristics present on the nose and palate.

Round 1 goes to the Brian Carter Cellars Corrida.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The R. Lopez is showing a nose of red fruits, sour peat bog and licorice with a palate of red fruit dry cedar and notes of licorice with some cherry notes on the finish.

The Corrida is continuing to evolve with the nose showing dark currant, smoke, espresso and chocolate with a palate showing similar characteristics to the nose and wraps up with a dry toffee and spice finish.

The R. Lopez is light on its feet, bobbing and weaving.  The Corrida is stomping in to deliver some heavy handed body blows.  This round is close with a slight edge going to the Corrida for aggressiveness.

Round 3. One day later

The R. Lopez has reached into its bag of tricks and is delivering a nose of funky sandal wood. cinnamon mole, hints of chocolate and ripe red berries.  The palate is showing some light red berry, coffee and menthol with a slight dry cedar finish. 

The Corrida has really beefed up for the final round with a nose of dark currant, dusty black cherries and hints of spices, semi-sweet chocolate and espresso.  The palate has similar character with a tart cedar Asian spice finish that is slightly acidic that mellows into spiciness with more air.

Both Luchadors brought some big changes over night.  Kudos to both for reaching back and adjusting their attack in an attempt to win the match.  This was another close call, but the final round also goes to the Corrida for being bigger, badder and bolder looking a bit like Mr. T. sporting miles of gold chain.

Wrap up and over all observations

Another close match.  These matchups between Spain and Washington have all been close.  The score might show 3 rounds to none in favor of the Corrida, but the truth is this match could easily have gone to the Spanish Luchador with a bit more luck.

Solid competitors once again.  I give both an 88.

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