Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Lodi Tempranillo: Harney Lane Winery

Lovers of the grape gathered for another fun social media get-together recently, featuring hosts Stuart Spencer - who wears many hats as the Program Manager at the Lodi Winegrape Commission, Owner and Winemaker of St.Amant Winery, and President of the Board of Directors for TAPAS (Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society) - and Rick Taylor, Owner and Winemaker of Riaza Wines and Director on the Board of Directors for TAPAS.  As you may have already guessed, the topic was Tempranillo.

The gaggle of wine tasters who gathered on Twitter were ready for some Lodi Tempranillo, and they were not disappointed.   Comments were tweeted from @Lodi_Wine, who told us that "Nearly 25 different Lodi wineries produce a Tempranillo."  They also volunteered that "Nearly 900 tons of Tempranillo came out of Lodi in 2013."

The virtual tasting event spotlighted Tempranillo wines from five Lodi producers, Bokisch, Riaza, McCay, m2 and Harney Lane.

Like most Lodi farming families, the dirt is not just on the Mettler family jeans, but in their genes.  Head grower  Kyle Lerner says that "farming is legalized gambling with more variables."  He rolled the dice and married into the Mettler family, though, and he considers that a good bet.  You'll find him in the vineyards, even though he would probably like more time in the tasting room.

The Harney Lane 2010 Tempranillo is fashioned by winemaker Chad Joseph exclusively from Tempranillo grapes grown on the estate.  Nineteen months of European oak aging lend its hand to the 719 cases produced.  A 15% abv number is certainly more Lodi-like than Rioja.  The wine retails for $25.

On Twitter, @Lodi_Wine chirped that "the Tempranillo is Kyle Lerner's favorite varietal wine they produce."  @cliffordbrown3 noted the "well worn leather, plums, blackberries, crushed stone minerals, wood smoke, white pepper, tobacco, dried flowers and a touch of dark chocolate."  Tasting notes chimed in from @dvinewinetime, as well: "full of dark fruit, crisp acid and leather."  @GrapeOccasions broke it down to basics: "Mmm! Big dark fruit/tobacco all around, getting a blueberry explosion!"  @myvinespot loved the "rich, textured profile, ripe purple stone fruit and cedar underpinned by rustic qualities framed in dusty tannins," while @JamesTheWineGuy went for the "suede, game, crushed dried red roses, Marjoram, hint of chocolate."  Something for everybody.

Harney Lane's 2010 Tempranillo is very dark and quite aromatic.  It smells of dark fruit and spice until I think I can't bear it.  There is oak, cedar, vanilla, anise, allspice and a touch of brambly sage to tie it all together.  The flavors are dark and spicy, too.  Blackberry, blueberry and leathery mocha meet a strong streak of minerals over a bed of firm tannins and juicy acidity.  This is a wine that will fit well with anything that comes off your grill.  Structured enough for beef, the flavors will also lift a simple ham and cheese sandwich to new levels.

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