We first introduced you to Grace Patriot Wines and their El Dorado Tempranillo (the outstanding 2007) in 2013 (see our feature review at the LINK), and since then the Grace Family have continued to demonstrate that this classic Spanish variety — most revered in the Rioja and Ribera del Duero appellations — has found a fitting place in their little corner of California’s Sierra Foothills. Tempranillo can be temperamental and temperature sensitive, and balancing sugar, acidity, and color in the variety requires just the right mix of daytime heat and nighttime cooling. Situated at roughly 2,800 feet above sea level in view of the Sierra Nevada snowpack, Grace Patriot’s vineyards are well-suited to Tempranillo’s needs, and the results are telling: Grace Patriot’s 2012 Lewis Grace Tempranillo won Best of Show Red at the California State Fair’s Commercial Wine Competition in 2015.
We recently had opportunity to taste Grace Patriot’s new Tempranillo release (vintage 2013) alongside the winery’s newest blend of Tempranillo and Graciano called “Tempriano” (vintage 2012), and found them both to be deeply expressive of the varieties’ most pleasurable characteristics. We offer our tasting notes, below.
Lewis Grace | Tempranillo | El Dorado | California | 2013 | $28 | 91 Points
Tempranillo is prized for its lush textures and exuberant fruit, and they are on full display in Grace Patriot’s 2013 bottling. This is a savory and seductive red (93% Tempranillo, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon), with aromas of incense, toasted hazelnut, and cola; followed by flavors of mulled red fruit, clove, and Crème Brûlée — all interwoven with layers of black olive, sweet cured tobacco, and leather over a fine, silky finish. It is dry and full-bodied, with moderate tannins and subtle acidity framed by vanilla-tinged oak; the wine aged for 20 months in American (70%) and French (30%) oak barrels (56% new). It is a food-friendly red that will complement hearty (but not too spicy) fare such as mild cheeses, cured meats, braised short ribs, stuffed bell peppers, and grilled meats and vegetables. This wine is succulent now with an hour’s (or longer) decant, but will yield ever greater rewards in a few years’ time. Like the 2012 vintage before it, this is a sophisticated Tempranillo that shows great promise for the variety in El Dorado County.
| $28 | 200 Cases Produced | 14.4% ABV |
Lewis Grace | Tempriano | El Dorado | California | 2012 | $28 | 91 Points
Grace Patriot’s “Tempriano” is, in name and in bottle, a blend of Tempranillo (80%, from the award-winning 2012 lot) and Graciano (20%), an aromatic, spicy, and vividly flavorful Spanish variety that in Rioja is traditionally blended (in small doses) with Tempranillo. Graciano certainly makes its presence known here, lending vivacity and dimension to the luxuriant Tempranillo. Aromas of cranberry, potpourri, and roasted tomato unfold on the nose; and on the palate are suggestions of black cherry, baking spice, and brandied fruit — all accentuated with flourishes of lavender and mineral. It is dry and medium-bodied, with moderate tannins and assertive acidity framed by spicy oak; the wine aged for 27 months in American (50%) and French (50%) oak barrels (40% new). This is a lively wine delicious right out of the bottle and well-suited to the table; serve it with assorted cheeses, charcuterie, bruschetta, tomato-based pasta dishes, and any variety of hearty and spicy fare. Linger over a glass of this wine and its aromas and flavors will intensify dramatically.
| $28 | 200 Cases Produced | 14.4% ABV |
Availability: The Grace Family hand-craft their wines in small batches, typically yielding just a few hundred cases of each of their wines in any given vintage. Distribution outside of California is limited. The best way to obtain Grace Patriot wines is to contact them directly, either through their website at www.gracepatriotwines.com, or by telephone at 530-642-8424. And if you find yourself en route to or from Lake Tahoe or are otherwise in the vicinity, pay them a visit at the winery and tasting room. The ambience is warm, the views are striking, and the folks are friendly. They are located just off Route 50 at 2701 Carson Road, Placerville, CA, 95667.