Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Twisted Tempranillo

According to the back label on this bottle, the name for Twisted Tree winery comes from the "weathered, gnarly cherry trees" that the new winery owners, Chris and Beata Tolley, found on the property when they bought the old fruit farm. Without knowing that fact, I might have thought that it's kind of "twisted" to find out that the winery is even producing this wine.

704. 2008 Twisted Tree Tempranillo (Okanagan Valley)

To continue on a bit from the naming of the winery, when the Tolley's uprooted most of those "twisted trees," they decided NOT to plant the same varietals that most of the other Okanagan wineries were laying out in their vineyards. They figured that there was already enough Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. It didn't mean that they wouldn't make those wines, particularly in the interim years while they waited for their own vines to mature, it just meant that they'd source the more common grapes from other producers in the Valley.

So, instead of planting more of the varietals that we might think of as now becoming traditional to the Okanagan, they planted Tempranillo, Carmenere, Tannat and the white Rhone varietals Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne. Although Viognier is making quite a name for itself in the Okanagan, you'd be hard pressed to find more than a handful of other wineries devoting their lands to the other varietals - let alone producing varietal wines with them. Part of the effort was to see how well suited the new varietals might be to the lands.

They appear to be taking rather well.

Twisted Tree released its first vintage of Tempranillo in 2007 and, at that, they were the first Okanagan winery to release the varietal. As such, this 2008 vintage is still only the second release of Rioja's - and perhaps Spain's - most famous grape. Yet, new to the scene or not, it turned more than a few heads, earning a Double Gold Medal at the 2010 All Canadian Wine Championships.

The most unfortunate aspect to the wine is that there were only 240 cases produced. I say "unfortunate" because Boo and I were nicely surprised when we opened it. It was more of a New World take on Tempranillo, having more fruit and freshness than a more traditional Rioja bottle would likely have, but we had no idea what to expect and we were very happy.

I'm not so enthralled with the $30 price tag though - particularly when compared to the many superb "value for the price" wines coming out of Spain - but I don't regret it in the least for a new look at the Okanagan.

One thing I would like to do is try a blind tasting of the wine with a selection of Spanish Tempranillos. That would certainly be interesting and worth another posting.

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