2016 Dinastia Manzanos Rioja Tempranillo

This week's wine is a Tempranillo from the Rioja region of Spain. My fiance got this bottle in his most recent NPR wine club shipment. It's a bit heavier and fuller-bodied than the reds that I typically pick out, but I really enjoyed it.

This wine is made on a family-owned estate vineyard. The Manzanos family grows the grapes and makes the wine. The family has been making wine for over 125 years, and the two brothers that are currently leading the winery are the fifth generation to run the family business. The vineyard is in the Rioja region, which is in northern Spain. The region is known for producing great Tempranillo wines, and this wine was very typical of that. The name Tempranillo comes from the Spanish word temprano, which means early. This grape ripens several weeks earlier than most Spanish red varietals. Tempranillo has a relatively neutral flavor profile, so it's often blended with other grapes from the same region. Wines that are labelled or called Tempranillo are often actually blends that are dominated by the Tempranillo varietal. This wine is actually a Tempranillo based blend and not a pure Tempranillo.

I drank this wine with my fiance, so I got his input as to the flavors and aromas that he tasted. It's common for two people to pick up slightly different scents and tastes in the same wine, so it was interesting to hear what he noticed that I didn't and vice versa. When I stuck my nose in my class of wine after swirling it around a bit I was struck by the dark, rich, luscious fruit aromas. I picked up plum, blackberry, and dark cherry, with a hint of black pepper at the finish. My fiance noticed similar dark fruit scents, but he said that the smell of apricot was stronger than the dark fruit scents. I didn't smell apricots at all, so I thought that was really interesting. After he said that I took a few more whiffs of the wine to try to pick up the lighter fruit scent, but all I got was notes of bright, fresh cranberry, but no apricot scent. When we tasted the wine the medium-strong tannins balanced out the fruity notes. I don't always like wines with strong tannins, I'm not a big fan of wine that you can practically chew, but this wine wasn't at that point, so I still really enjoyed it. I also picked up the tastes of vanilla and leather in the finishing notes. This was a bolder wine than I would usually pick, but I appreciated it because I had felt stuck in a bit of a rut with my lighter, airier reds lately.

We drank this wine with a hearty vegetable and potato stew and some homemade bread. Even though the stew was vegetarian, it was strong enough to stand up to the rich wine, and they paired together wonderfully. This wine would also go well with a meatier meal, such as pork chops or a lamb stew. This was a very good winter wine, the kind of wine that's better to drink while sitting next to the fireplace rather than on a patio in the afternoon, and it hit the spot that night.