Merlot and Tempranillo?

February 14, 2008

Scanning the shelves at the MLCC recently, I noticed some interesting new Spanish wines including some blends I haven’t seen before. I’ve always loved Tempranillo and have recently re-discovered my appreciation of good European Merlot. And this is probably the only post I’ll ever do which covers both Merlot and Tempranillo in the same wine!

René Barbier Tempranillo-Merlot (2006)

From the Penedès region of Spain comes this new blend from René Barbier. The lighter of the two wines, it showed off some good flavours on the nose and in the mouth. Nothing spectacular, just some nice red fruit flavours with a hint of vanilla. None of the earthiness that you often find in a good Tempranillo.

Oddly enough, this wine doesn’t yet appear on the Rene Barbier website. Nor does the bottle list the proportion of Tempranillo vs. Merlot. But this wine is newly available at your local MLCC for $10.04. It’s far better than most other wines in that price range, so I’d say it’s worth picking up a bottle.

The 2004 vintage of this was entered into the International Wine Value Awards, held by Canada’s Wine Access magazine. It scored a respectable 87 points in the “Best Red All Other” category.

Osborne “Solaz” Merlot-Tempranillo (2005)

This is a much more interesting wine than the Barbier is. Coming from Castilla (near Toledo), the wine sees four months in American oak, giving it just enough of that lovely vanilla character to keep it interesting. It’s more Merlot (65%) than Tempranillo (35%), which surprised me.

Not surprisingly, it featured lots of dark cherries and a few plums (not too jammy though) on both the mouth and nose. This was balanced well with the hint of vanilla oak. But I also found some unexpected earth and spice flavours in the finish. As for the finish, it was shorter than I would have liked, but I’d still say this is a good match for food.

Again, there doesn’t seem to be anything about this wine on the Osborne website, although this blend was announced back in 2006. For $12.46 at your local MLCC, this is a good deal. Osborne also produces a Cabernet-Tempranillo blend (which I’ve never liked) and a Shiraz-Tempranillo blend (which I haven’t tried).

Of the two wines, I’d say the Solaz is a much better wine. It’s got loads more character and I think it could even stand a little time in the cellar. The Barbier isn’t as inspired, but it is perfectly fine if you’re just looking for a cheap red to pair with pizza.

But if you really want to see how good a Merlot blend can be, for $12.99 (at the private wine stores), the Da Luca Primitivo Merlot is a far better choice than either of these wines.


One comment

  1. well done, brother

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