Federal Wine & Spirits

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This Week's Tasting

Tempranillo and Sangiovese - Compare and Contrast
February 8, 2017

After Bordeaux, the second wine I tried in my forgotten youth was a Rioja. At that time Tempranillo as Rioja was certainly considered to be Spain's finest and most famous grape variety. Soon after, I tried a Chianti Classico at my favorite Italian restaurant in DC. Sangiovese, at least in Europe, was considered to be one of the finest and most famous Italian grapes.



Over the years the selection of wines made from both of these grapes has gotten considerably larger and much higher quality. Both can be used to make medium to full bodied reds that can vary in complexity. Both are made to go with the foods produced locally in their regions. Both pair well with pork or wild boar and are great with steak. Both can age very well. While they share some aroma and flavor characteristics the wines are quite different in texture and finish. We hope you will have fun with this little "compare and contrast" tasting.

We will begin with the 2011 Franco-Espanolas Rioja Bordon  Reserva. Franco-Espanolas is a company that was founded in the early 20th century. It is a merger of a French and Spanish company whose goal was to combine the history and expertise of both wine cultures. We have found that they succeeded admirably. Then we will begin the Sangiovese portion with our old friends at Dievole. The 2013 Dievole Chianti Classico is a classically styled wine and a great expression of a fantastic vintage.

For the second Tempranillo we will move over to the Toro region and taste the 2013 Numanthia Termes Toro. This is a wine from a wild and sparse agricultural countryside. This wine is intense and mysterious and made from seriously old vines. The next Sangiovese will be the noble expression from one of the oldest estates in Gaiole in Chianti. The 2010 Castello di Cacchiano Chianti Classico Riserva is elegant, complex and balanced.

The final two wines are also very different in style. Lopez de Heredia is the poster child for Rioja tradition. The 2005 Lopez de Heredia Rioja Reserva Bosconia is their just released single vineyard expression. This is a wine with great subtlety and style. Finally we will open the very rich and unique Sangiovese from La Spinetta. The 2004 Casanova della Spinetta Sassontino is a single vineyard wine from Giorgio's property in Casanova which is in northwestern Tuscany.



2011 Franco-Espanolas Rioja Bordon  Reserva:  Bright ruby. Red fruits, light oak and an herbal touch. Medium body and balance.  Very Good Plus  19.99; Mixed Case, 17.99; Case, 16.99

2013 Dievole Chianti Classico: Deep ruby. Dark cherries, pepper and spice with a nice undertone of bramble. Full body.  Very Good Plus  18.99; Mixed Case, 17.09; Case, 16.14

2013 Numanthia Termes Toro: Deep ruby. Spicy dark fruit with muscular texture and chewy edges. A lot going on here.  Very Good to Excellent  32.00; Mixed Case, 28.80; Case, 27.20

2010 Castello di Cacchiano Chianti Classico Riserva: Medium bright ruby. Violets, cherries and earthy spice in a complex format with a touch of oak. Very Good to Excellent  30.00; Mixed Case, 26.99; Case, 25.49

2005 Lopez de Heredia Rioja Reserva Bosconia:  Ruby. Intense fruit but with subtlety and finesse. Polished and refined dark fruit with hints of vanilla and sandalwood.  Excellent   43.00; Mixed Case, 38.70; Case, 36.55

2004 Casanova della Spinetta Sassontino:  Ruby red. Minerals, spice, flowers frame  intense dark fruit with black cherry and mixed berries. Expressive with layers of flavor and a long fine finish.  Excellent    48.00; Mixed Case, 43.20; Case, 40.80

Compare & Contrast Case: Special, two each of the above wines - $326

Compare & Contrast Pack: Special, one each of the above wines - $173


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           - Len Rothenberg


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