Import Selection: Tempranillo, 1988. Juame Serra

In the year 1647, on top of a hill that slopes down to the Medi­terranean, in what is now the prov­ince of Cataluna (Catalonia) in Spain, someone constructed a farmhouse in the likeness of a mediaeval fortress. Two hundred years later, this imposing property became a winery, Las Cavas Jaume Serra.

Surrounding the cavas (caves = cellars) is the “El Padruell” estate, about 300 acres of prime vineyards. This estate is located in one of Spain’s most important wine producing regions, Penedés. The vineyards lie perched above Villanova i la Geltrú, the capital city of one of Penedés’ three ad­ministrative subdivisions.

Anyone who visits the Olym­pics this summer will no doubt run into many wines from Penedés. It lies only about 30 miles southeast from Barcelona.

Notice that this wine’s back la­bel reads: “The 1988 vintage was awarded a classification of VERY GOOD”. Spain has had its own version of France’s Appellation Controleé (laws governing mini­mum standards of quality for wines) since 1933. In 1970 a new, comprehensive set of statutes con­trolling quality, origin and aging requirements was passed in Spain. The Instituto Nacional de Deno­minaciones de Origen was formed to administer the laws of each region. Each Denominacion de Ori­gen (DO) has its own Regulatory Council. It was the DO of Penedés that determined the aforementioned classification. That year they gave their local grapes “thumbs up”.

Regarding this month’s grapes; some historians are of the opinion that French pilgrims originally brought Tempranillo vines to Spain from monasteries in north­ern France. Other experts say the grape is probably northern Spanish in origin. Be that as it may, Tem­pranillo is the fourth-most-planted red-grape variety in Spain. Its character has often been compared to Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc, giving lighter-bodied, early-maturing, pleasant, dry reds.

This example has a clear, light raspberry-reddish color which por­tends a delightful, intense, rasp­berry/strawberry nose. This is a lighter-bodied red with nice fruit flavors to match the nose, balanced by good acidity. Refined, yet live­ly. A prolonged aftertaste features a proper measure of drying tan­nins.

Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled with grilled tuna, roasted chicken, or afternoon fruit and cheese platters.

Cellaring Notes: At its peak now. Drink through next year.

Reviewed by Larry Tepper

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