VALDEPEÑAS ANCIANO TEMPRANILLO GRAN RESERVA (2001)—Aged, just like my mum
Today my mum said, “Stop mooning around liquor cabinet and make yourself useful.”
Just look at me: I’m a little 7” bear with a severe alcohol addiction. What possible use is my mother thinking of? I’m not meant to be useful; I am strictly decorative.
She tends to get self-righteous when she’s just put in a solid half-hour’s worth of honest work herself. Then it’s time to eat five chocolate bars, turn the heat up so she doesn’t have to move around, and otherwise reward herself for that massive effort.
Granted she’s a little stressed out. Today’s the big 43, and neither of us is as fluffy as we once were. Aging is tough, and especially tough when you don’t feel you’ve accomplished enough for your years.
There are plenty of young tempranillos out there, and they can certainly be consumed young, but a tempranillo with ten years’ oak aging under its belt is a spectacular find for $15.99. Whereas it’s difficult to find inexpensive wines of this vintage from most wine-producing countries, Spain is proving itself a trove, with tempranillo enjoying a renaissance among growers with the mettle to coach the finicky black grapes through the growing season.
The grapes are challenging to grow because they require a cool climate to achieve good acidity, but they need heat to reach optimal sugar levels. Like my mother, they are difficult to please, and inclement weather pisses them off. Thus they are used more often as blending grapes than as single varietals.
My parents are basically philistines about wine; that’s why they gravitate to plummy, jammy fruit explosions that satisfy their immature tastes. It’s the reason I’m steering their venerable tastebuds toward the VALDEPEÑAS ANCIANO TEMPRANILLO—they are old enough to handle a more demanding taste experience.
Swirled in the glass, this purply, brick-red Spanish wine gives off a spicy, leathery essence, with vanilla chiming in lightly. Decanting is not a must, but it enhances the wine’s ability to morph its high notes into more subtle, rounded flavors.
If you’re a shiraz or cab fan this tempranillo will surprise your palate, perhaps not positively at first—its opening notes are sharper, pointier—but if you let it linger on your tongue, velvety stone fruits, currants, white pepper and licorice will emerge. This wine is dense with complexity, and if you can manage it, you should drink it undistracted.
So turn off the porn, get out the decanter, and give it a good swirl. And as I told my mum, “You can get away with drinking it slowly—43 isn’t so old that you’ll die before the bottle’s finished.”
And that was when she told me to go and make myself useful.