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Ferdinand Tempranillo 2015

Tempranillo from Amador, Sierra Foothills, California
    13.8% ABV
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    13.8% ABV

    Winemaker Notes

    This 2015 Tempranillo is medium ruby in color; medium-bodied, dry and elegant. It smells of Tempranillo's characteristic wild red fruits and plum with a touch of underbrush. A savory wine with hints of smoke and leather it possesses a visceral stoniness inherent to its origins in the Sierra Foothils. Overall the wine is lively in the glass; subtle with a silky freshness and present but resolved tannin. Located near the gold rush town of Sutter Creek, at an altitude around 1750’, this rocky vineyard is made up of ancient, red volcanic soils full of chunks of quartz. This ideal location balances easy ripening hot summer days and cool nights from the high elevation mimicking conditions in Spain's Ribera del Duero, the source of the vines' budwood.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Ferdinand

    Ferdinand

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    Ferdinand, Amador, Sierra Foothills, California
    Evan Frazier: "In the fall of 2006 I flew to France for my first harvest. I spent the next few months working in the small Roussillon village of Maury picking grapes, hauling boxes, processing fruit, and learning cellar work. The experience I had there with old vines, steep schist slopes, and of literally getting up to my elbows in fermentations convinced me to move to Napa on my return to continue an apprenticeship in winemaking. Even now, after a decade working in wine, I still feel more like a student of wine than a winemaker. "Since 2008 I’ve had the opportunity to work for the Kongsgaard family and to continue to learn winemaking and the business of wine. With their encouragement and support I started Ferdinand in 2010. Though my first experience in winemaking was in France, it was in the Cathar and Catalan country just across the Pyrenees from Spain. There, in Maury, the grapes are Grenache and Carignan, known in Spanish as Garnacha and Mazuelo. Setting out to make my own wines I looked again towards Spain and was fortunate to be introduced to two great growers of Spanish varieties. My first vintage I started with just one ton of Albariño (a white variety indigenous to Galicia in north-west Spain) from Markus Bokisch’s Vista Luna Vineyard. In 2011, I began to make Tempranillo (another of the great Spanish varieties) from Ann Kraemer’s Shake Ridge Vineyard. "As a young winemaker, my philosophy has to be to surround myself with great mentors and to try to work with great growers. I am very fortunate to have been able to find both."

    As the lower part of the greater Sierra Foothills appellation, Amador is roughly a plateau whose vineyards grow at 1,200 to 2,000 feet in elevation. It is 100 miles east of both San Francisco and Napa Valley. Most of its wineries are in the oak-studded rolling hillsides of Shenandoah Valley or east in Fiddletown, where elevations are slightly higher.

    The Sierra Foothills growing area was among the largest wine producers in the state during the gold rush of the late 1800s. The local wine industry enjoyed great success until just after the turn of the century when fortune-seekers moved elsewhere and its population diminished. With Prohibition, winemaking was totally abandoned, along with its vineyards. But some of these, especially Zinfandel, still remain and are the treasure chest of the Sierra Foothills as we know them.

    Most Amador vines are planted in volcanic soils derived primarily from sandy clay loam and decomposed granite. Summer days are hot but nighttime temperatures typically drop 30 degrees and the humidity is low, making this an ideal environment for grape growing. Because there is adequate rain throughout the year and even snow in the winter, dry farming is possible.

    Tempranillo

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    Notoriously food-friendly with soft tannins and a bright acidity, Tempranillo is the star of Spain’s Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions and important throughout most of Spain. Depending on location, it takes on a few synonyms; in Penedès, it is known as Ull de Llebre and in Valdepeñas, goes by Cencibel. Furthermore in Portugal, known as Tinta Roriz, it is a key component both in Port and the dry red wines of the Douro. The New World regions of California, Washington and Oregon have all had success with Tempranillo, producing a ripe, amicable and fruit-dominant style of red.

    In the Glass

    Tempranillo produces medium-weight reds with strawberry and black fruit characteristics and depending on yield, growing conditions and winemaking, can produce hints of spice, toast, leather, tobacco, herb or vanilla.

    Perfect Pairings

    Tempranillo’s modest, fine-grained tannins and good acidity make it extremely food friendly. Pair these 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 naming system is in place to indicate how much time the wine has spent in both barrel and bottle before release. Rioja labeled Joven (a fresh and fruity style) spends a year or less in oak, whereas Gran Reserva (complex and age-worthy) must be matured for a minimum of two years in oak and three years in bottle before release. Requirements on Crianza and Reserva fall somewhere in between.

    SRKUSFER0215_2015 Item# 511747