Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Washington Tempranillo v. Rioja

This year's Vuelta Espana hugged the Northern border of Spain during the second week of racing.  This brought the racers through a variety of terrain including stage 12 which ended in a sprint finish in the town of Bilbao.  The racing was tense throughout the middle section of the Vuelta.  Nairo Quintana, and his Movistar team, had their work cutout for them defending the leader's red jersey as the race traced its route through the Northern reaches of Spain. 

There aren't many wine regions along the Northern edge of Spain.  The race came closest to the Rioja DOC, home of a wide range of tantalizing Tempranillo.

This week's Lucha Vino match up features a Washington Tempranillo taking on Rioja.

2013 Saviah Cellars Tempranillo v. 2001 Diez Caballero Vendimia Seleccionada

Tale of the Tape

2013 Saviah Cellars Tempranillo

82% Tempranillo, 12% Syrah and 6% Grenache from the Funk Estate Vineyard, Dugger Creek Vineyard and Watermill Estate Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley AVA with the Funk and Watermill vineyards both located in The Rocks of Milton-Freewater AVA

Aged for 17 months in 20% new French Oak Barrels

Provided as a sample by the winery.  Available at retail for $38.00.

2001 Diez Caballero Vendimia Seleccionada

100% Tempranillo from the oldest estate vines located in Elciego within the Rioja DOC

Aged for 24 months.

Purchased from for $18.99.

Round 1.  First opening

The Washington State Luchador from Saviah Cellars has spent time at two training centers known for turning out powerful champions: The Funk and Watermill Estate vineyards don't mess around.  And Spain knows it.  Their Diez-Caballero luchador is a seasoned veteran with more than a decade of experience in the ring.

Saviah makes up for age with swagger.  This Luchador enters the ring with flair and a nose that features dark black fruit, candle wax, savory olive brine and dusty minerality.  The palate brings the power with rich dark fruit, cracked pepper and savory olive notes backed up by a tannin pepper fueled finish.

The Spanish Luchador might be old, but is not intimidated!  The nose is well balanced, and smooth, with notes of dark cherries and light savory undertones.  The palate is slightly funky with dark cherries, a hint of menthol and white pepper that is followed by a slightly sweet and tart bing cherry finish.

The first round was no contest with the Saviah Cellars Luchador bringing the pain and taking the points!

Round 2.  One hour after opening

The Saviah Luchador is showing strength and stamina flying into the ring with undeniable confidence.  The nose continues to show dark black fruit and cherries with the addition of savory cocoa powder character.  The palate also displays dark black fruit, savory cracked pepper, olive brine and dark cocoa powder that repeats on the tannin spiced finish.

Diez-Caballero is defiant, seemingly saying "Why change after all these years?"  The nose repeats the notes of dark dusty black cherries with an added light pop of menthol.  The palate has relaxed a bit with notes of cherries, and dried leather that trail off with a tart tannin driven finish.

Savia Cellars kept the pressure on in round 2 and takes the points again for a commanding 2-0 lead.

Round 3.  One day after opening

Bombs away!  The Washington state, Saviah Cellars, Luchador is coming on strong.  The nose is lush and rich with dark black fruit, hints of dusty cocoa and savory top notes.  The palate is bringing a seriously complex attack to the ring with mineral driven funk, dark black fruit, earthy cracked pepper, and savory olive brine with a tannin fueled finish of cocoa and white pepper spices.

The Spanish Luchador from Diez-Caballero is standing strong, not bad for a 15 year veteran!  The nose is rich with bing cherry, leather and white pepper spices.  The palate brings more notes of cherry, leather and dry white pepper spices that wrap up with a finish that includes white pepper and licorice.

Saviah Cellars takes round 3, winning all three rounds for a clean sweep and the victory.

Wrap up and overall observations.

The Saviah Cellars Tempranillo features grapes from two estate vineyards in the Rocks of Milton-Freewater AVA.  This AVA is distinct for the ancient rocky riverbeds that play host to the vineyards.  Frequently referred to, simply, as "The Rocks" this AVA has one of the most distinctive characteristics of all the AVAs in Washington (and Oregon).  This Tempranillo is a great representative of the funky, mineral driven, savory wines you will find when visiting The Rocks.

The Diez-Caballero showed how well wines from Rioja can age.  This wine held up over two days and was well balanced and smooth throughout.

This was a fun match up with both luchadors bringing their own unique style to the ring.


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