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Tempranillo

Tempranillo is a rapidly growing segment of the red wine market, which may not be very significant in terms of wine volume but the number of brands is substantial. And the quality of wine is improving fast.

It’s now common for any given shiraz producer to bottle a number of wines sourced from different vineyards, regions or different blocks of the same vineyard. This approach is still a rarity with tempranillo, but Canberra vineyard Mount Majura is changing that. It’s the first I’ve noticed sallying forth with a serious offer.

Winemaker Frank van de Loo recently released not one but four 2013 temps, and that doesn’t include the TSG, his lower-priced $32 tempranillo, shiraz, graciano blend (tasting). All are good, the TSG being the lightest and most minty.

There are three $45 single-block Mount Majura tempranillos from the 2013 vintage: Little Dam (tasting), Dry Spur (tasting) and Rock Block (tasting), in addition to the regular $42 bottling (tasting). They all have excellent depth, weight and structure, and I recommend them.

Little Dam is fruitcakey, Dry Spur has aniseed and charcuterie, Rock Block is my pick: very intense with dried-herb and subtle mint notes. No doubt the single-block wines are in small volumes, so you’ll need to move quickly.

Tempranillo is a variety to watch. My records show I’ve tasted 38 Aussie temps in the past half-year from 34 different producers. So far, most Australian versions have been fairly light, fruity, low-tannin, low-extract wines destined for early drinking, and Yalumba’s Running With Bulls (tastings) is a superb example. But I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before we see some serious attempts at Rioja Reserva and Gran Reserva styles. Bring it on!

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