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Dehesa La Granja 1999

Tempranillo from Spain
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    Dehesa La Granja

    Dehesa La Granja

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    Dehesa La Granja, Spain
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    Alejandro Fernández and his wife Esperanza Rivera, having created Tinto Pesquera and Condado de Haza in their native Ribera del Duero, looked farther afield in the Spring of 1998, purchasing this grand agricultural estate bordering the Guareña River in the province of Zamora, in the heart of one of Spain's earliest-recognized wine regions.

    Known during the entire 20th century as "La Granja Valdeguareña de los Moleros", the 1800-acre ranch had been devoted by the Moleros brothers to the breeding of highly regarded fighting bulls, still in operation at the time of purchase. However, from the 17th through 19th centuries the estate had been a regionally-dominant producer of wine, evidenced by 40,000 square feet of cellars hand-carved by 125 laborers over 17 years. During that time the local wine producing area was known throughout Spain and Europe as Tierra del Vino (Land of Wine).

    Alejandro rapidly set to work reconverting the estate to wine production, with 525 acres of old-clone Tempranillo planted by late 2000. House and ranch compound were renovated and a modern winemaking facility installed, directly over the 17th- century cellars. Meanwhile, Alejandro discovered plots of ungrafted old Tempranillo vines in the Guareña River Valley which have formed the basis for concentrated red wines beginning with the 1998 harvest.

    As with Fernández wines in Ribera del Duero, the fully-extracted must undergoes malolactic fermentation in new oak, and a meticulous racking and aging program accomplishes a natural clarification. After two years in barrel, the 1998 vintage was bottled in November of 2000.

    Known for bold reds, crisp whites and distinctive sparkling and fortified wines, Spain has embraced international varieties and wine styles while continuing to place primary emphasis on its own native grapes. Though the country’s climate is diverse, it is generally hot and dry. In the center of the country lies a vast, arid plateau known as the Meseta Central, characterized by extremely hot summers and frequent drought.

    Rioja is Spain’s best-known region, where earthy, age-worthy reds are made from Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache). Rioja also produces rich, nutty whites from the local Viura grape.

    Ribera del Duero is gaining ground with its single varietal Tempranillo wines, recognized for their concentration of fruit and opulence. Priorat, a sub-region of Catalonia, specializes in bold, full-bodied red blends of Garnacha (Grenache), Cariñena (Carignan), and often Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Catalonia is also home to Cava, a sparkling wine made in the traditional method but from indigenous varieties. In the cool, damp northwest region of Galicia, refreshing white Albariño and Verdejo dominate.

    Sherry, Spain’s famous fortified wine, is produced in a wide range of styles from dry to lusciously sweet at the country’s southern tip in Jerez.

    Tempranillo

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    Notoriously food-friendly with soft tannins, modest alcohol, and bright acidity, Tempranillo is the star of Spain’s Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions. It is important throughout Spain as well as in Portugal, where it is known as Tinta Roriz and is an important component of Port wines and the table wines of the Douro region that Port calls home. California, Washington, and Oregon have all had moderate success with Tempranillo, producing a riper, more fruit-forward style of wine.

    In the Glass

    Tempranillo is often aged in new oak for the integration of spicy, woodsy, and herbal flavors, often with hints of vanilla, coconut, and dill. The grape itself produces medium-weight reds with bright red and black fruit aromas and hints of spice, leather, and tobacco, with no shortage of flavor.

    Perfect Pairings

    Tempranillo’s modest, fine-grained tannins and bright acidity make it extremely food friendly, pairing with a wide variety of Spanish-inspired dishes—especially grilled lamb chops, a rich chorizo and bean stew, or paella.

    Sommelier Secret

    The Spanish take their oak aging requirements very seriously, especially in Rioja. There, a system is in place to indicate on the label how much time the wine has spent in both barrel and bottle before release, which is helpful to the consumer trying to determine the style of an unfamiliar wine. Rioja can range from Joven (fresh, fruity, and unoaked) to Gran Reserva (complex and oxidized from extended barrel aging), with Crianza and Reserva in between.

    WWH363DGF92_1999 Item# 54671