K Vintners El Jefe 2016
Iodine, blood, earth, leather. Echoes of Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises.” It suggests sun-ripened tomato, sea salt, black raspberry and a complexity of Tempranillo that centuries can only understand. No bull... This is El Jefe.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The ruby/plum-colored 2016 Tempranillo El Jefe Stoneridge Vineyard reveals a meaty, savory, smoky style to go with a medium to full-bodied, concentrated style on the palate. Some classic tar and asphalt notes as well as cold fireplace develop with time in the glass and it has present yet silky tannins, beautiful overall balance, and a great finish. It’s a terrific expression of this variety that will keep for at least a decade.
Located at the base of the Blue Mountains in Walla Walla Washington, K Vintners opened its doors to the public on December 3rd, 2001. The property at 820 Mill Creek Road where the winery sits was homesteaded in 1853 with the adjacent farmhouse built in 1872. The winery grounds with Titus Creek flowing through the lawn and the old pioneer planted trees, is a little slice of heartland Americana.
The Winemaker: He loves to drink wine! Charles Smith, proprietor and winemaker, comes to Walla Walla after 11 years in Scandanavia. Originally from northern California, he has been involved with wine personally and professionally his whole life. And did we forget to mention... he loves to drink wine!
The Vineyards: K Vintners is producing wines from 2 distinctive viticultural zones: Wahluke Slope and Walla Walla Valley. Each of these areas are unique and awesome for Syrah and the Field Blends produced.
In April '02 two seperate blocks of vineyards were planted to Syrah adjacent to the winery in the rocky dry creek beds that run through K Vintners property.
Distinguished by a broad, south-exposed, uniform slope and landlocked by the Columbia River to its south and Saddle Mountains to its north, the Wahluke Slope AVA of Washington holds 15% of the total vine acreage of the state and takes its name from the Native American word for “watering place.”
Incidentally the Wahluke Slope AVA has one of the hottest and driest climates of the state so irrigation is not only essential, but also allows complete grower control of vine vigor. On top of its arid and warm environment, strong summer winds blow across this broad slope and ensure both smaller leaf size and grape clusters. The result is top quality wines with great concentration, phenolic ripeness, body and depth of flavor.
Vineyards cover the AVA from 425 to 1,480 feet along the slope. Its deep soils of wind-blown alluvium and sand with a depth, on average, of more than 5 feet along the continuous grade allow optimal drainage for the vines.
Merlots are rich in sweet, ripe cherry, red currant, raspberry and cocoa. Syrahs tend to express black and blue fruit along with savory notes. Wahluke Cabernets are rich in stewed red and black berries.
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.
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.
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.