Dunnigan Hills, CA
Suggested Retail: $15.99
“It’s likely that most American wine consumers have not tasted Tempranillo, nor know where the Dunnigan Hills are located. If you’re in that broad category, here’s a discovery for you: We suggest you try a Tempranillo from Tinto Rey.
“If the name sounds Spanish, that’s appropriate—sort of. Tempranillo is a very popular red wine grape grown in Spain and Portugal. However, the Tinto Rey Tempranillo comes from Northern California; specifically, the Dunnigan Hills, which are just east of the Napa Valley. Though the Dunnigan Hills aren’t yet well-known, they’ve had AVA status (an American Viticultural Area, which is officially recognized by the U.S. government) since 1993. The climate in this western part of Yolo County is warm and conducive to growing grape varieties native to similar climates in Europe.
“And the name Tinto Rey? Well the Giguiere Family, owners of Matchbook Wines, chose to create that label for all their warm climate red wines, to differentiate them from such varieties as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, which they still market under the Matchbook identity. The inspiration for this week’s ‘Pick’ was actually a 2014 vintage Tempranillo bottled with a Matchbook label. From 2015 forward all their Tempranillo will be Tinto Rey. Both the 2014 and 2015 versions of this wine are predominately Tempranillo, of course. The 2014 contained 75%, the 2015, 80%. The balance of both vintages included lesser amounts of Petit Verdot, Tannat and Graciano grapes.
“What does such a mélange taste like? Pretty good, we thought. Our notes found the 2014 showed plum and cola-like qualities. Cherries, blackberries and vanilla were present, as well as some dark chocolate and a hint of spice. If forced to liken it to more familiar varieties, we’d say it was somewhere between Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, with more resemblance to the former. While our experience was with the 2014 vintage, we expect the 2015 will be very close, if not exactly the same flavor profile.
“At $15.99 retail, there’s lots to like about this wine. We’d serve it with almost any red meat, especially if grilled outdoors or smoked. Texas-style beef brisket, maybe?”