Sunday, October 13, 2013

Washington Tempranillo v. Ribera del Duero

The World Championships took place in Italy a couple of weeks ago.  Spain had the perfect setup to win the race, but something weird happened in the final kilometers of the race. 

Joaquim Rodriguez, from Spain, had a break away lead for a significant length of time at the end of the race.  With less than 5 km to go in the race Rodriguez sill held a slight lead with three more riders trailing close behind: Vincenzo Nibali of Italy, Rui Costa of Portugal and Alejandro Valverde of Spain.  Rui Costa put in an attack and bridged up to Rodriguez leaving the two of them to battle it out for the victory.  Costa took the win for Portugal's first ever world men's road race championship.

Spain was perfectly situated for the victory with two riders in the final break of four.  Many observers were perplexed that Valverde did not cover Costa's attack.  Valverde's lack of action most likely cost Spain the World Championships this year.  They ended up with second and third, but that is little consolation when the top step is so close.

This week's Lucha Vino challenge pits a challenger from Ribera del Duero against a Washington State Tempranillo.  Let's see if the Spanish challenger can have any better luck than Rodriguez and Valverde.

2010 Tranche Cellars Tempranillo v. 2001 Bodegas Balbas Gran Reserva

Tale of the Tape

2010 Tranche Cellars Tempranillo

Estate Tempranillo from the Black Rock Vineyard in the Columbia Valley AVA

Aged in Oak Barrels, mostly used.

Provided as a sample at wholesale price.

2001 Bodegas Balbas Gran Reserva 

90% Tempranillo 10% Cabernet Sauvignon

Aged for 36 months in French Oak Barrles with an additional three years aging in the bottle.

Purchased from for $24.99

Round 1.  First Opening

Tranche Cellars struts into the ring brimming with confidence.  The nose features dusty dark cherry and hints of dry leather.  The palate is oozing with power, showing dark cherries, menthol spices, coffee and cocoa with a dry finish of menthol, white pepper and some floral notes.

The luchador from Bodegas Balbas appears to be overwhelmed, perhaps intimidated would be a better description.  The nose is reminiscent of a dank basement that used to store cherries and dried flowers.  The palate is medium bodied with flavors of red berries, cherries and tart rhubarb leading to a finish of dried cherries.

Tranche takes the opening round with some punishing body slams on the Bodegas Balbas.

Round 2.  One hour after opening

Tranche is bulking up with a nose that continues to feature dusty dark cherries and menthol spices.  The palate is bringing the pain with dusty dark cherries and licorice along with menthol and clove spices.  All that power wraps up with a dry tannin inspired cocoa powder finish.

The challenger from Ribera del Duero is getting funky, flashing some style that appears to be inspired by Bootsy Collins.  The nose is funky with ripe cherries, brambles, leather and some hints of mint.  The palate is showing mostly dry cherry with some floral tinged spices leading to a dry tart cherry finish.

Bootsy was known for his bass playing skills, not his wrestling moves.  The Bodegas Balbas scores some style points, but Tranche takes the round for a 2-0 lead in the match.

Round 3. One day after opening

The Tranche luchador is showing no signs of slowing down.  The nose continues to show dusty dark cherries, currants, plum and leather.  The palate is big, dark and bold with black cherries, coffee bean, menthol spices and cedar notes with a tart menthol spice and cocoa finish.

The challenger from Spain has a few tricks up its sleeve for the final round.  The nose is featuring notes of dark smoky sandalwood while the palate has shifted to show off tart dark cherries and a super dry finish.

Nice try, but Tranche takes the final round for a dominating 3-0 victory.

Wrap up and overall observations.

This match featured the initial Tempranillo release from Tranche Cellars.  If this is any indication, they have a winner on their hands.  The 2010 Tempranillo was bold, spicy and impressive.

The Bodeagas Balbas gran reserva got better as the match went on.  It definitely needs some time in the decanter to open up.  This gran reserva from Ribera del Duero might benefit from some more time in the cellar.  We'll have to see if this Luchador's agents call for a rematch in the future! 

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