2007 Gramercy Cellars Tempranillo “Inigo Montoya”

Hello friends. Greg Harrington is the kind of guy that invites a stranger to dinner. And I don’t mean out to dinner. I mean to a dinner in his home. (Oh, and I’m the stranger, in case that wasn’t clear.) While a part of me wants to stop the offer right there and let the inscrutable laws of karma work their magic, there’s a stronger part of me that wants to tell you more about Greg and this beautiful wine.

First the wine: Tempranillo, the great grape of Rioja, is planted sparingly in Washington, but Greg thinks he has found the right terroir for Tempranillo, and it’s in Walla Walla. Much of the fruit comes from Les Collines Vineyard, the high-elevation, high-tech vineyard I first described in the Kerloo Syrah offering, and this is the second year Greg has made this wine. The 2006 version was gone almost as soon as it was released, but even with that level of popularity, Greg tweaked the wine to improve it for 2007.

Blended with the Tempranillo this year is 15% Grenache and 10% Syrah. No new oak was used in the making of this wine, so we’re left with a pure expression of fruit, in the form of raspberries, cherries, and delicate streaks of tobacco. Furthermore, Greg takes acid very seriously (he is one of the first winemakers to pick come harvest time), and that makes the entire Gramercy lineup exciting.

A few readers who have been here since the beginning have asked why I so frequently reference a wine’s acidity. For me, acid is a hugely important component in wine. The best way to think about acid in wines is to compare it to seasoning in foods. The miracle of salt is that it makes foods taste more like themselves; it makes chicken taste more chickeny. It increases the inherent broccolanity of broccoli. Altogether, it enhances and strengthens flavors. When salt is absent, even good, well-prepared food can taste dull, and it is the same for acidity in wines. When you see a wine described as “dull” or “flabby” you can bet that wine has a dearth of acid. The right amount of acid (and Greg’s Tempranillo is a good example) makes a wine taste bright in your mouth. It enlivens berry flavors and makes them shimmer across your palate.

One person who could probably explain acidity better than me is Greg Harrington. He was a Master Sommelier by the age of 26 (no easy feat) and now spends a good chunk of his time each year teaching wine-related classes across the country. We’re lucky to have him spend the rest of the year making wine in Walla Walla, and I’m very pleased to have the chance to offer this outstanding wine.

We will have this wine in our warehouse in less than a week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping.

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