As with most products we purchase and consume, the choices we have in our national and local marketplace has everything to do with marketing. What wine – red or white – is most planted, purchased and consumed in the U.S.? You guessed it: Cabernet Sauvignon.
But what if, instead of a grape varietal from France, a country like Portugal (which was a wine force to be reckoned with back in the day) had promoted its 250 indigenous varietals that grow in an area about the size of Maine? Or, if Spain had spent decades and billions to market its bounty to American consumers? Then, Cabernet Sauvignon would probably be one of the more obscure sections one your favorite wine list and we’d all have a bottle of Tempranillo in our wine fridges! Fortunately, the Spaniards are their own biggest fans. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that there are more acres planted worldwide to Tempranillo than to Chardonnay.
Lucky for us, we happen to live in an area where the climate and soil are ideally suited for Portuguese and Spanish grape varietals. Several Placer County wineries are taking advantage of the region's characteristics to produce wine that is muy delicioso. These varietals have all of the characteristics we love, but with an Old World twist that will make you an instant fan. Take a look at our quick guide to these fun and delicious grape varietals. Then, take a drive along the Placer County Wine Trail (get a map at placerwineandaletrail.com) and treat your tastebuds to something new. We promise you won't be disappointed!
Albariño...refreshingly acidic with characteristics of lemon, peach and flowers
Go for it if you like...Pinot Gris
Find it locally...PaZa Wines (blended with another Spanish white Loureiro in their 2013 Blanco Perfecto)
Garnacha (also known as Grenache)...quite fruit-filled with an interesting mix of strawberry, blackberry and raspberry flavors followed by a dash of peppery spice
Go for it if you like...Merlot
Find it locally...Lone Buffalo Vineyard's J Brand (2012 Just Grenache)
Tempranillo...ruby red in color with aromas and flavors that can include berries, plum, tobacco, vanilla, leather and herb
Go for it if you like...Cabernet Sauvignon
Find it locally...Viña Castellano (2010 Tempranillo)
Touriga Nacional...deep, dark and lusty with notes of violets, currants and plum. It ages well.
Go for it if you like...Super Tuscan
Find it locally...Cante ao Vinho (2012 Touriga Nacional)
Want to taste a few of these varietals side by side? Learn about Placer County’s Spanish and Portuguese varietals at an upcoming wine education event - an intimate opportunity to meet the winemakers from Auburn’s Viña Castellano and Cante Ao Vinho in Rocklin, explore their different styles and enjoy pairings of tapas by Chef Irie Gengler of Source.
Source Global Tapas, Granite Bay
Thursday, May 12
4 to 6pm
For more information and a schedule of events call (916) 672-6766.