A Gift of Domestic Tempranillo - Abacela
The story: I find that relationships in life are all over the map. There are those friendships that seem to require just a little more effort than others, and those that are just easy and fulfilling no matter what life brings. There are family relationships that overflow with support, encouraging a relaxed and balanced interaction, and those that you are happy to engage a couple of times a year at holidays only. But I hope for your sake that you have at least a couple of relationships like I have with my aunts. These women have been around since, well as far as I'm concerned since forever. They are the type of people that make you know they love you no matter what, and can pick up where you left off even if the communication has been neglected a bit since last Christmas. My aunts are always authentically interested in my life, and have been supportive and accepting of all directions I may take up.
My Aunt C in particular has taken an interest in this blog, which really means a lot to me (despite the jokes that only family members are reading, most of my family is not that interested). She recently visited a winery in her hometown and sent me a bottle knowing I would be intrigued by what they are doing in Southern Oregon. These are the kinds of gestures that throughout my life have made me feel so comfortable in this relationship. It is exactly the type of uncle I want to be to my nieces and nephews, and has always been an important part of my life. Thank you Aunt C!!The wine: The wine is a fascinating story of grape growers who were so enamored with the wines of Rioja and Ribera del Duero that they searched the US for a comparable spot to grow great tempranillo. They found Southern Oregon and were amazed at the similarities in geography and weather. Hence in the 1990s they purchased Fault Line Vineyards in Roseburg, OR and started Abacela. Focusing on tempranillo, Abacela also grows albarino with some critical success, in addition to syrah, malbec, garnacha, and viognier. My aunt sent me the 2007 Tempranillo Cuvee which poured a dark maroon with beautifully ruby edges. The nose was very pretty, full of cherry and some vanilla oakiness but also sporting a bit of gaminess reminescent of beef jerky. The palette was like cherry liquer fading to a higher toned cranberry finish that included earth and roasted coffee notes. The finish was lengthy, may be a bit sour to some, and showed a touch of the 14.1% alcohol by volume.
The verdict: I love the obvious daring that Abacela put into its operation. No one goes out seeking a Southern Oregon tempranillo at this point, and that may make it hard to sell the product, no matter how good it is. However many in the wine world are starting to become aware of how successful this little winery is doing this varietal. The wine was delicious, and while not every piece came together seamlessly it was a nice wine to pair up with the roast chicken that happened to be on the table the night it was opened. While the 2007 is sold out, the 2008 is available (with a bit of higher score from Paul Gregutt if you care about that) and at $20 this is really an interesting wine. The higher level wines are also receiving attention as of late and may be worth your time and money.
I always say that wine is only worth the people and experience that it enhances, so thanks again Aunt C. Your interest and support have always meant something to me, whether I say it often enough or not.