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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tempranillo Shootout

Last week I attended the annual meeting of the Society of Wine Educators (SWE).  This is one of my favorite wine events each year in that over a 3 day period we typically taste a couple hundred wines.  I’ve been a member of SWE since 1981, so that means 6,000 wines that have passed through my lips thanks to this wine group…many have been wines and/or producer I did not know.  This year there were some real standouts---one of the best I learned about in a seminar titled, “Tempranillo Shootout.”

Tempranillo, a very popular grape in Spain, is now grown in several countries of the world.  The seminar featured 10 different producers, from 7 different wine areas on the globe. All wines were blind tasted….the only way to go.  Moreover, all wines were roughly the same vintage to reduce age variability. 

There was one clear winner, heads and toes above the others in terms of complexity and finish.  Out of the nearly100 wine educators in the room, >33% voted this wine the top spot (a huge number of 1st place votes considering a blind tasting of 10 wines).  Are you ready for the victor?  You’ll probably be as shocked as I to learn it was a Tempranillo from Lodi.  Yep, Lodi, CA!   The producer?  One I’ve never heard of---Bokisch Vineyards.  The wine?  Bokisch’s Liberty Oaks Vineyard, 2009.  The best of all is the price---$22 of solid heaven.  It beat out wines that were nearly 3 times the price.

After the conference we were dinner guests of dear friends who are wine lovers.  I began telling them the above story but when I got to Bokisch they grinned and said “One of the wines we’re pairing with dinner tonight is a 2007 Bokisch Graciano.”   (Graciano is another Spanish varietal). Long story short, this Graciano was as good (if not better possibly due to its additional age) than the producer’s Tempranillo.

The next day I searched the Internet for several cases of both wines.  I learned from my friend who introduced us to the Graciano that Bokisch Vineyards has long been sold out of the Tempranillo and Graciano (he’s a member of their wine club).  The two wines have received all types of awards and the older vintages were not easy to find….but were worth the patience in locating them.   You can check out Bokisch Vineyards at  

Bravo Bokisch!

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