Tempranillo's best known incarnation is as the base for the wines of Rioja and the Ribera del Duero. Its popularity is definitely on the rise, having found a home in vineyards across the globe. Tempranillo seems particularly well suited to the Northwest, and the results of this tasting appear to bear that out. Here are the panel's top three:
2013 Holloran Tempranillo, $19
When it comes to red wine, Oregon's Willamette Valley is synonymous with pinot noir, so this Tempranillo from the Eola-Amity Hills district is a surprise. Bright cherry aromas are colored by nuanced leather, black pepper and sage. The chocolate-covered cherry and raspberry flavors are supple, with a nice tannic grip on the finish. Touches of tobacco and leather add interest.
2011 Pomum Tempranillo, $24
Co-owner and winemaker Javier Alfonso hails from Spain's Ribera del Duero and brings an Old World sensibility to this Washington blend of 90 percent Tempranillo, 10 percent garnacha. Dark cherry dominates the nose with kisses of oak, licorice, cedar and cigar. On the palate, it's creamy red fruit and plum, backed by silky tannins, smoky oak and leather. A touch of olive comes through on the finish.
2012 Volver Single Vineyard Tempranillo, $27
One hundred percent Tempranillo, the grapes come from 50-plus-year-old vines situated in Spain's south-central wine region of La Mancha. The sumptuous aromas include candied cherry, mocha, vanilla and graham cracker. It's ripe and round in the mouth offering cherry, blueberry and plum flavors. The finish is soft, lingering nicely with subtle oak and coffee.