TAPAS Tempranillo Tasting: June 14, San Francisco

Sometimes I feel like California vintners don’t experiment enough. While they may be trying a wide range of rootstocks, clonal material, yeast strains, trellising methods, barrel regimes, and the various other minor, yet important variables that can make for higher quality wine, far too few wineries are trying to grow different grape varieties from around the world.

That’s a generalization, of course, and there are plenty of exceptions, but by and large most California winemakers stick to the tried and true: white and red Bordeaux varieties, Syrah, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir, with occasional branching out into Grenache, Viognier, or Petit Sirah. With the exception of Zinfandel, most of these grapes are traditional French varieties.

What about the rest of the world? If you ask me, there’s far too little Barbera, Nebbiolo, Malvasia, Ribolla, Montepulciano, Albariño, Touriga Nacional, or any of the dozens of other major grape varieties of the world being planted in California.

Which is why I’m a big fan of the Tempranillo Advocates, Producers and Amigos Society. These pioneering vintners have been growing Tempranillo and other Iberian grape varieties for varying amounts of time, but all with the goal of making interesting and compelling wines from grapes that are off the beaten path.

This is the second annual tasting that this group will hold, and unfortunately the second time that I will be unable to attend. But if I were in town, you can bet I’d be there to see what’s being done with these uncommon grapes in California.

The main event is a walk-around tasting where wineries from Arizona, California, Oregon, Texas, and Washington will be pouring wines made from grapes such as Tempranillo, Albariño, Grenache, Graciano, Mourvedre, Touriga, Verdejo, Bastardo and more

TAPAS Tempranillo Tasting 2009
Sunday June 14th
2:00 PM to 4:30 PM
Fort Mason Conference Center
San Francisco, CA94123

Tickets are $35 and can be purchased online in advance. Any remaining tickets will be available at the door for $45.

My usual tips for public tastings apply: get a good night’s sleep; come with food in your stomach; drink lots of water; wear dark clothing; and if you want to learn anything, SPIT!