Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tempranillo Three Way

This week's racing in Spain and Southern France was interrupted by snow.  Yes.  Snow!  The big news of the week was the CAS ruling on Alberto Cantador's positive Clenbuterol test.  It took more than 500 days to come to the conclusion that Cantador was guilty of violating the WADA drug codes and should be suspended for 2 years.

The funny thing is Contador will actually only miss about 6 months of racing with his ban.  He was allowed to race during the first 18 months of the ban.  During that time he won the Giro d'talia and several other races.  Not any more.  All those results will be erased from the record books.  If you ask me, a two year ban should begin from the date of your last race, not when you were initially accused of violating the WADA code.

Regardless, there was big outrage from past Spanish cycling champions  coming to Cantador's defense.  With all the rage in Spain I thought it would be a good time to break out some Tempranillo.

This week we'll take an unusual twist on the Lucha Vino matchup with a three way battle for Tempranillo Supremacy.

Washington 2008 Kerloo Cellars Tempranillo v. Oregon 2007 Abacela Tempranillo v. Spain 2006 Dominio de Atauta Ribera del Duero

Tale of the Tape

2008 Kerloo Cellars Tempranillo

100% Tempranillo sourced from Stone Tree Vineyard block 17 (56%) on the Wahluke Slope and Les Collines Vineyard block 6 (44%) in the Walla Walla Valley.

Aged in 22% New Nadalie and 78% Neutral French Oak Barrels for  17 months

Purchased at Cellar 46 for $32.00

2007 Abacela Tempranillo

100% Tempranillo sourced from Abacela’s Estate Fault Line Vineyards.

Aged in French (95%), American (5%), 10% new, 45% 2-yr old Oak Barrels.

Purchased from for $26.99

2006 Dominio de Atauta Ribera del Duero

100% Tampranillo (Tinto Fino)

Aged in 100% new French Oak Barrels for 17 months.

Provided as a sample by Vinum Importing.  Thanks Gavin!

Available at retail for $30.00.

Round 1.  First Opening

Kerloo is first to step into the ring anticipating the entrance of the Abacela and Atauta.  Exuding nervous energy the nose is showing dusty dark logan berry, brambles and some light toasty notes.  The palate is dark rich currant and menthol that ends with a tart cherry bark finish.

The Spanish challenger swaggers into the arena showing a nose of smoky barnyard funk and toasty dark currant.  The palate also shows dark smoky currant with a dry tart cherry finish.

The promoters are out looking for the Oregonian.  It appears that Abacela may be protesting instead of fighting.  The nose is not showing much with only some dusty light smoke character making an appearance.  The palate is juicy cherries and a dry tart cedar finish.

This round came down to a battle between the Kerloo from Washington and the Dominio de Atauta.  The battle was close with the Kerloo taking the first round points by a narrow margin.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The Kerloo is gaining strength with a nose of dusty dark currants and some hints of cedar spices.  The palate shows dark currant, earth, clove and menthol spices that linger on to the finish.

The Atauta is stepping up to go toe to toe with Kerloo.  The nose is showing notes of leather, earth, dark fruit and some sandal wood spices.  The palate boasts dark cherries and a tart cedar spiced finish that is ultra dry.

The Abacela is still negotiating with the promoters.  The nose is still not showing much character and the palate is warming up  on the heavy bag with notes of medium dark berries, cranberry and a finish that continues to be super dry.

Another round with Kerloo and Atauta battling for the points.  Just like the first round, this one was close with Kerloo barely edging the Spanish challenger.

Round 3. Three Hours Later (Intermediate Bonus Round)

With three contenders the judges have decided to add an intermediate bonus round at the three hour mark.

The contracts are signed and the Abacela has entered the ring boasting a nose of dusty black cherries and smoke.  The palate is coming on strong with black cherry, menthol spices and a peppery tart finish.

The Kerloo scoffs at the mere suggestion that any contender may be ready to drop some show stopping moves.  The nose has developed black cherry, dusty leather and cinnamon spices with a palate that is equally bold.  The finish comes off the top rope with loads of spicyness.

Our Atauta Spanish contender showcases some complexity with a nose that is showing some peat notes along with big mineral infused dusty dark berries.  The palate is bold with dark mineral fruit and a super dry finish.

In round three the Abacela showed why it was worth the promoter's time to get the contracts in order and satisfy the Oregon Challenger's demands.

The Abacela brought the power and the Atauta brought some complex style, but Kerloo was ready for the challenge and dominated round three with an Atomic Drop off the top turnbuckle.

Round 4. One Day Later

All three Luchadors are still going strong.  With the Kerloo ahead on all the judges score cards it looks like Spain and Oregon may be forming a secret alliance.

The Atauta is showing some ring savy, changing styles and bringing the Kung Fu with a nose of dark fruit, brambles, cracked pepper and menthol spices.  The palate is also showing dark fruit  with light spices and a pepper tart finish that continues to be as dry as the bones of a retired Luchador.

The Abacela seems to be content with letting Atauta take the lead, but is still putting up a good fight when called on with a nose showing earthy darkness and notes of licorice.  The palate is loaded with dark fruits and some pepper that trails off into a tart cedar finish.

The Kerloo is momentarily stunned, but regains its composure.  Ultimately the two ganging up on Kerloo only seem to have caused the Washington Tempranillo to throw a Hulk sized temper-tantrum.  The nose has character of earth, dark berries and brambles with a palate featuring dark cherries and clove spices that move on to a spicy brambly finish. 

Wrap up and over all observations

This was an interesting match up.  The comparison of Tempranillo from Washington, Oregon and Spain showed plenty of similarities as well as differences in character and style.  Each of the Luchadors built strength over the course of the match.

In the end, the Kerloo from Washington demonstrated the boldest approach with consistency throughout the match. 

Then came the Atauta which seems like it could easily gain more power by chilling in the cellar for another couple of years. 

Getting a slow start, the Abacela did finally enter the mix in the later rounds but did not have enough to upset the pecking order that had already been established.  The Abacela handlers say that decanting is strongly recommended.  I'll say!  The character really began to shine after three hours of exposure.

I give the Kerloo an 89 and the Atauta and Abacela both an 88.

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