The monthly wine tasting for Master of Wine aspirants was Spanish varietals, and a good few were tempranillos.

This is becoming increasingly popular down under with the spread of jamon, tapas serves, Iberian plates, El Bulli, manchengo and the wonderful wines of Spain (all varieties).

Australians have to be content with drinking Spanish-made Rias Baixas from albarino because the grape was wrongly introduced; now we have to sit it out until 2014 when quarantine has been completed, propagation done and the true vines start to flower.

Wines are reported in order of enjoyment and it was no chance that a wine from Roda in Haro figured highest.

Roda Reserva Rioja 2005; 14% (USD 140); ++++1/2; still dense, a little of the violets are wearing off, yet it remains so full and alluring; substance, just smells of fruit intensity, then oak-fruit complexity which gives you a nose full, power on, the taste was just starting to settle the fruit above the oak, a matured flavour which shows up the crunch and angular nature of tempranillo.

Overall a savoury endpoint which emphasises the enjoyment of this as you eat. Is 85% tempranillo, 9% graciano and 6% garnacha.

M2 de Matallana Ribera del Duero 2006; 14.5% (USD 95); ++++; dense purple colour, magnificent and startling to see, really meaning a serious drop here, the nose is a little reductive from aggressive use of barrel fermentation, lots of salami by-products which are non-grape, lots of oak char (to charm Robert Parker), very heavily oaked and for a prolonged period, powdery texture meaning more time to settle here, big shaped wine, final flavour finishes with savoury notes. A plus.

M2 de Matallana 2006 Ribero del Duero

This is a Telmo Rodriguez wine; all tempranillo showing the big end of Spain.

Camins del Priorat 2008 (Alvaro Palacios) ; 14%; (USD 50); ++++; is the style alternate to the hefty oak-aged reds, this has the purples of youth but none of the tempranillo density of Roda and Rodriguez; it is tight showing more is yet to unravel to smell, what there is very rural, scents of the forest, hints of cowyard, then a sweet entry, delightful softness and supple tannins, little dryness and more plush sensations, long flavoured.

Camins del Priorat 2008-entry level Alvaro Palacios

This is 60% carinena, 30% garnacha touched up with cabernet sauvignon and shiraz, a big blend at 50,000 cases, it sees very little new oak, and that bears out both on nose and palate, the structure being these traditional Spanish two remaining emphatic.

Tar and Roses Tempranillo Alpine Valleys/ Heathcote 2010; 14.5% (USD 20); ++++; inky but also very young, bright in the glass, huge fruit, huge oak influence, burlesque, fruit is on the sweet side, cake like, lots of tannin from oak, to the extent of creating a powder dryness in the mouth, excellent, can see the cold soak and maceration performed here, long ager, now a baby.

Good Aussie-Tar & Roses Tempranillo 2010

Made by Victorians Don Lewis and Natalie King. This is terrific value, and the 2010 vintage is a screamer.

Hercula Monastrell (Bodegas Castano) Yecla 2001; 14% (USD 25); +++; was super, now an aged russet colour with the edges browned yet the aroma was heaving with black fruits character, the unmistakable genes of mourvedre/mataro, palate deep, sweet fruited and stern. A great mature example.

Peter Scudamore-Smith is a Brisbane-based Master of Wine, winemaker and educator


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