The rolling hills of Eastern Washington are renowned for their hospitable agricultural conditions; everything from lentils to sweet onions to the ubiquitous Washington apple thrives in its soil. It’s no surprise, then, that Washington can be a tough state to nail down to one hallmark wine. We love it all, and we do many of them damn well. The latest contender for the new “it” Washington wine has old-school flair, and Wine World will be showcasing it alongside native bites at next week’s “Tempranillo and Tapas” event.
Tempranillo originally comes to us from the high-altitude areas of Spain, the key contributor to their famed Rioja. For those of you whose high school Spanish kicked in just enough to note that sounds familiar, the name comes from the Spanish temprano, meaning “early,” a result of its tendency to ripen several weeks prior to its Spanish red grape peers. With a touch of altitude and summers that provide the heat needed for Tempranillo’s deep color, several Washington wineries have been trying to see if they can spark some Old World magic in a New World locale. By this year's account, there are 94 planted acres of Tempranillo vineyards in Washington.
Timid about Tempranillo? Wine World’s event provides an opportunity to try an array of Washington expressions of this varietal, and speak with the winemakers who bet you’ll fall in love. The evening begins with a winemakers' panel led by Doug McCrea of Vina Salida, who has been playing with Tempranillo since Fall 2006 after looking for a new, adventurous and challenging grape. Along with Salida’s version, Wine World will be pouring Tempranillos from Brian Carter Cellars, Camaraderie, Cave B, Pomum and Stottle. Of course, what’s an evening in Spanish Washington without Tapas? Tango Restaurant & Lounge will be moving their bites North to Wallingford to add to the ambiance and showcase the wines alongside the food they’re meant to be enjoyed with.
In this economy, a Spanish vacation is probably going to elude most of us. So practice your flamenco and join me in Wallingford where for an evening, Spain can come to you. Part of the Twittersphere? Use the hashtag #WATempranillo to share your thoughts with the masses.