Comparison Tasting: Tempranillo

We recently had the opportunity to blind taste three very different Tempranillo wines with two of our wine drinking friends. I choose three very different wines, both in price and quality in the hope we could all clearly identify the differences. The three Tempranillo wines we tasted were:

    Aldi Vina Decana Crianza 2010 ($4.99)
    Vina Sastre 2011 ($18.00)
    MenaRick Tempranillo ($23.00)

All three were served at room temperature, were 100 percent Tempranillo and were tasted without food. The bottles were covered and labeled A, B and C before they were opened so none of us could identify which wine we were tasting.

So here’s what we thought…

Vina Decana Crianza, a Spanish Tempranillo that was the low-priced wine of the group, but with its fancy gold string wrapping was packaged like an expensive Spanish Rioja. It is distributed at the Aldi grocery stores and would typically be categorized as a “Super-Market wine”.

    Tasting result: The color was dark and it was rich in cherry flavor with hints of oak and spice. The tannins were soft and the wine some-what smooth with a medium-length finish. In a nutshell…it’s a $5.00 wine that actually tastes like a Tempranillo!!! During the tasting all four of us said this bottle was clearly in the middle of the group. However, we all identified a strange taste that we described as “band-aids” or “medicinal” that clearly all of us disliked.

Vina Sastre, another Spanish Tempranillo that was the mid-priced wine of the group and was purchased from The Caviste, our favorite Winston-Salem wine store.

    Tasting result: Dark red color with rusty purple on the rim. This wine had strong dark fruit aromas that contained lots of spice and damp wood. Intense fruit taste with lots of mineral that carried through the long finish. Right from the first taste this was everyone’s first choice…it was a GREAT Tempranillo and “Head-and-shoulders” above the other two!!!

MenaRick Tempranillo. This was a local North Carolina Tempranillo that we purchased during a recent visit to the MenaRick Vineyard (see Wine Tasting at the MenaRick Vineyard). It was the highest priced of the three.

    Tasting result: This was dark in color, but had no bouquet. The taste was dark fruit and the finish short. All of us said it was harsh and after the first taste put it at the bottom of the group and didn’t drink any more of it.

In the end the results were predictable, but it was fun and interesting to see how close we all were with our comments. Also as expected, when the party was over the Vina Sastre bottle was empty, the Aldi Vina Decana Crianza had a only little bit left but the the MenaRick Tempranillo bottle was half-full!!! Would I buy these again, The Vina Sastre in a flash, it was an EXCELLENT Tempranillo. Aldi’s Vina Decana Crianza was clearly not up to the “real thing” but with a $4.99 price tag it’s a robust “super-Market” Spanish red that we would recommend…it’s a good buy at that price point, but don’t expect an outstanding Tempranillo. Unfortunately the MenaRick Tempranillo just doesn’t cut it and is not recommended.