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San Martino Tempranillo Reserve: Tasting an Up-and-Comer

Along with malbec, Grenache, and cabernet franc, tempranillo is viewed by oenophiles as one of the up-and-coming red grapes in today's wine scene. It is often called the "noble grape" of Spain, and is used as the base for that country's magnificent Rioja reds.

Almost black in color, tempranillo ripens early (thus the name, a diminutive of the Spanish word "temprano," which means early) and is very susceptible to diseases and pests such as phylloxera. Therefore, when it is planted in other countries such as Chile and Argentina, it must be grafted onto native root stock, resulting in a slightly different flavor profile. In any case, the resulting wines are ruby red and full-bodied.

When I visit a winery where the winemaker follows a specific country's flavor profile, I usually like to taste what he has done to that country's signature grape. San Martino Winery & Vineyards winemaker Emilio Ramos is a native of Spain, so I thirsted to try his Tempranillo Reserve.

The wine's color was rich and plummy, indicative of its strong presence. Old tobacco, currants, and plum on the nose. Lots of luscious black cherry and blackberry preserves on the palate, with vanilla swirl on the finish. A great match for all manner of tapas and Mediterranean dishes, or just great when sitting on San Martino's patio in Rockwall and stroking Tinto's (the mascot cat) black fur.

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