If you have a look through the list of grapes I’ve encountered on this blog, I’ve managed to find most of them as varietal wines. It’s not that I don’t like blends – many of the great wines of the world are made up of more than one grape, and within the Old World most regions are dominated by blends. However, this site has an emphasis on wine education, and I think the best way appreciate how a grape contributes to a blend is to first be able to identify it on its own. More on that topic in the coming week or two, but for now we have before us Wines by KT’s Tinta by KT Tempranillo 2011.
This is the fourth Tempranillo to grace these pages, but only the first time it’s appeared as a varietal wine. That might seem a bit strange, since it’s a well known variety, and in fact the classic red grape of Spain. The reason is that within Spain it is commonly found as part of a blend. For instance, within red wines of Rioja it is typically the major component with smaller portions of Grenache, Carignan and/or Graciano.
It is planted widely throughout Spain, under many synonyms. There are considerable plantings in Portugal, under the name Tinta Roriz, where it is used in table wine as well as Port. There are a small number of plantings in the south of France, largely in the Languedoc. Officially within Italy there are no plantings, but DNA profiling has shown that some vines called Malvasia Nera are in fact identical to Tempranillo. There are plantings in North America from a few vines in British Columbia, Canada down through the West Coast of the USA, as well as Texas and Mexico. Considerable plantings exist in Argentina, though there is very little of it in Chile. Its popularity is on the rise in Australia, though in New Zealand it’s unclear if the grape will take off from its small start.
Tempranillo itself is a fairly productive vine, producing darkly coloured berries with thick skin, in medium to large sized, though compact, bunches. It buds and ripens early, and does better in dry climates than most. As with many varieties, lower cropping levels result in higher quality colour and flavour, as well as acidity. It can have relatively low alcohol, particularly with respect to it’s traditional Spanish blending partners.
Wines by KT is the label of Kerri Thompson, who graduated from Roseworthy in 1993. Since then she has worked as a winemaker in Tuscany and Beaujolais, as well as in South Australia, most notably leading at Leasingham. She and viticulturalist Steve Farrugia partnered on a label, KT and the Falcon, with a number of wines out of the Clare Valley. While only her name is on the current label, she has worked closely with viticulturalist Bunny Peglidis who tends Riesling vines in Watervale. In addition to producing her own wines, she is the winemaker at Crabtree. At present she makes four Rieslings, two of named vineyards. She also produces varietal Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and this Tempranillo, as well as a Shiraz / Grenache / Tempranillo / Mataro red blend, and a Tempranillo / Monastrell rosé.
Normally I try to say a word or two about the wine’s region, but this wine does not explicitly list an origin other than Australia. Wines by KT is based in Clare, and while their website appears to be under construction, it’s a fair guess that most or all of the grapes came from there. I’ve written about the Clare Valley before, so for more information it’s worth looking at the write up of Pikes Clare Riesling.
In the glass this wine is clear and bright with a medium plus purple colour – not deep purple but “grape juice of my youth” purple. It shows thick legs when swirled. On the nose it’s clean and just starting to show some development, with medium minus intensity, and notes of dried red fruit, cranberries, potpourri, and a bit of dust. On the palate it’s dry, with medium plus acidity, medium minus body, medium alcohol, medium mouth coating tannins, medium plus intensity, and medium length. There are notes of cranberry, dried simple red fruit, pomegranate, and a bit of cola.
This is a good wine, very much made in a young style. When I tastes wines made from Tempranillo, the main note I tend to pick up is that the fruit always comes across as a bit dried. I don’t know if anyone else gets that as a rule, but for me it’s the tell if I’m tasting blind that there might be a Tempranillo in front of me. In that regard, this wine has good varietal typicity, at least for my palate. While the alcohol was medium, I think some more of it might have given the wine a bit more body, but for having worked the 2011 vintage in South Australia, I think this one turned out pretty well. There wasn’t a huge amount of complexity, but at least as much as you would expect from such a young wine. And most of all, I’m pleased to add another variety to the century list.