WBW #35 – Passionate Spain

We were happy to see Michelle from My Wine Education’s straightforward selection for Wine Blogging Wednesday #35 – “Passionate Spain.” In addition to leaving the field wide open – a wine from Spain – Michelle encouraged us to select a bottle that cost under $10 – definitely in our preferred “affordable” category here at Box Wines.

Santana TempranilloFor the first time in recent memory, we didn’t have to make a last minute run to the wine shop to find something suitable for this month’s WBW challenge. We had just returned from our Trader Joe’s expedition, and just happened to have a bottle of Santana Tempranillo 2004 in our mixed case. It cost about $5 – just about as affordable as you can get outside of Two Buck Chuck. We haven’t blogged about this varietal much at all. The only one we’ve tried lately has been Infinitus Tempranillo 2004, which we enjoyed. (The Santana Tempranillo is actually a blend that includes 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.)

According to Wikipedia,

Tempranillo is a thick-skinned black grape used to make full-bodied red wines. It grows best in cooler regions as it does not tolerate hot or dry weather well. Pests and diseases are a serious problem for this grape variety, since it has little resistance to either. The grape forms compact, cylindrical bunches of spherical, purplish black fruit with a colourless pulp. The fruit is very dark in colour and forms a bead-like sphere for which it also carries the name of Ull de Llebre (Catalan for “Eye of the Hare”) in Catalunya, a major Tempranillo-growing region. It is known by a bewildering number of other names, usually after the region in which it is, or has been, grown.

Back to the Santana Tempranillo, we found it had a very nice licorice and raspberry nose with some spicy and woody notes. On the palate, this light-to-medium-bodied wine wasn’t overly fruity, with dark berries yielding to herbal, woody flavors; pepper and prominent tannins dominated the slightly acidic finish. This wine was a bit less fruity than we are used to, but was surprisingly accessible and well balanced. This wine grew on us, and we found it to be more sophisticated than one might expect for a $5 wine. We scored it at 8.5 out of ten, which on our scale means we liked it quite a bit and would buy it again. All in all, Santana Tempranillo is a great value, particularly if you are looking for a red that’s a bit less fruity than inexpensive California or Aussie wines.

Santana Tempranillo is bottled by Bodegas Victorianas, part of the Spanish firm Grupo Faustino. (Architecture buffs may be interested in the fact that Grupo Faustino has engaged renowned architect Norman Foster to design their latest winery.)

Kudos to Lenn Thompson for launching WBW and keeping it organized and thriving. We enjoyed this month’s straightforward WBW challenge that encouraged us to try something different in a very affordable price range – we’re looking forward to some of the other great finds by WBW bloggers this month!

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