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A selection of Spanish wines for International Tempranillo Day

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Frequent Bermuda visitor Kaj Ahlmann is also the owner of Six Sigma Winery in Lake County California (Photograph Eric Luse/The Chronicle)

Last week I mentioned that November 12 would be International Tempranillo Day and I described a wine from Spain.

The date may have been a little confusing. Those with a far better memory than I am blessed with may have thought, “Surely last year I celebrated this occasion on November 14?”

You would be correct, as I should have stated that this event takes place on the second Thursday of each November. To make up for this, I intend to share a few more wines made from this classic grape of Spain.

I am not sure what he is up to, with the travel situation being what it is, but Kaj Ahlmann certainly must be a candidate for the visitor who has made the most trips to Bermuda. This affable gentleman, who with his family owns Six Sigma Winery in Lake County California, is also very involved with international insurance affairs.

They consider their wine made from this grape to be their flagship and so let me share a few facts about their 2016 Six Sigma Tempranillo Reserve as stated on their website: “This luxurious, rich wine is destined for pairing with family, friends, and food. As you take your first sip, you will catch a hint of butterscotch on the nose, followed by decadent aromas of cloves, jam and sweet spices. The palate will conjure silky licorice and white pepper, accompanied with plum and fig, leaving you with a nice finish of vanilla notes and dark chocolate. Smooth tannins round out this full-bodied wine.

“The tempranillo grapes were grown at the Diamond Mine Vineyard site on our ranch. This site is named for the ’Lake County Diamonds’, small volcanic-made pieces of quartz that litter the ground and glimmer in the sunlight. The vineyard sits at 1,700ft elevation and is surrounded by an untouched landscape. We use a no-till approach to managing the vineyard floor with the goal of minimal input. Sheep graze in the vineyards helping us compost the permanent cover crop.”

Only four hundred cases of this wine were produced, and it is a classic example of what this grape can achieve in the New World. It is delicious. $59.46 (Stock #5904).

Casa Roja is a quite new winery founded in the Ribera del Duero region of Spain in 2009. Their 2016 Casa Roja Alexander the Great is a blend of 85 per cent tempranillo with 5 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 5 per cent ,malbec and 5 per cent merlot. The aromas are of intense red fruit with subtle spices added by the French oak barrels. Mocha and vanilla are well integrated with the tannins as it moves into a complex and long finish. $46.80 (Stock #9374).

The 2015 Marques de Riscal Reserva, with its golden wire-meshed bottle has been a standard of our Spanish portfolio for many years. Back in 1858 the popularity of this wine caused it to be so sought after that the owners wire-wrapped them in a way that would prevent cork removal and the substituting of an inferior product.

This always has a minimum of 90 per cent tempranillo, but small amounts of graciano and mazuelo are included to enhance crispness and colour. Two years in American oak add fresh and fine elegance. To quote the winery: “Intense black-cherry colour with good depth and hardly any signs of evolution. Very expressive aromas on the nose with notes of liquorice, cinnamon and black pepper, with just a subtle hint of the long cask-ageing, thanks to its great complexity and ripe, concentrated fruit. Fresh and easy to drink on the palate, good backbone and lovely, polished tannins. The long, persistent finish leaves gentle balsamic reminders of the finest quality.” $28.90 (Stock #9360).

If I decide to celebrate the date that I was born on, later this month, by opening a Spanish wine then I feel that it must be 2011 Cune Imperial Gran Reserva. I have told this story before, but here I go again. My wife and I were making our annual pilgrimage to the New York Wine Experience and it was here that I was asked if our company would be interested in representing Cune. I tasted and loved what they had to offer and said that I would consider their kind offer. Once back in Bermuda I picked up the latest issue of Wine Spectator, as it featured their annual list of the world’s top 100 wines. The place of honour, first place overall, was awarded to Cune Imperial. That clinched it for me.

This 2011 vintage is maintaining its impeccable reputation as it placed fifth overall on last year’s Wine Enthusiast top 100 with a score of 97/100. This is how they described it: “This is a fabulous gran reserva from a very good but lightly heralded vintage. Aromas of spiced plum, black olive, fig, tobacco and cassis come together like a puzzle. A deep, pure palate shows near-perfect balance, while this tastes of plum, berry fruits and earthy spice. Smooth, elegant and chocolaty on the finish, this delivers all one can ask for from Rioja. *Editors’ Choice* (2/2019).” $80.05 (Stock #9735).

Despair not if you are seeking a Monday to Thursday night tempranillo, as the 2016 Cune Crianza placed 41 on last year’s Wine Enthusiast list of the world’s top 100 best buys. This publication gave it 90/100 and wrote: “Garnet colour with violet notes on the meniscus. In the nose it is surprisingly aromatic. The red fruits and licorice are in balance with aromas from American barrels which reminds us of vanilla and cocoa with some caramel.” $21.95 (Stock #9734).

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm

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Published November 06, 2020 at 1:00 pm (Updated November 05, 2020 at 1:16 am)

A selection of Spanish wines for International Tempranillo Day

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