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I was originally going to review the 2015 Mogollon Vineyards Tempranillo yesterday.  Then Elizabeth-by-the-Sea suggested I review their Chardonnay since I had just posted a podcast on Tempranillo, so I should do something different.  Before I could get either bottle open, though, Philip Brown, the manager of the tasting room down at the Southwest Wine Center, suggested I come down the mountain and visit.  He mentioned they had the first estate vintage made from college fruit open in the tasting room, and it was a Tempranillo. I wasn’t about to say no to that, so I rushed down the mountain as soon as I could.  That, and I so rarely have a day off that coincides with their open hours anyway… so I rushed down the mountain.

So, there you have it, two Tempranillo posts in a row.  I really think Tempranillo is one of our best grapes in the state of Arizona; and now I’m really wishing I had a full-on Sonoita AVA Tempranillo in my cellar to review next, as a comparison between regions, but I fear I cannot oblige you guys at this time.  But I couldn’t resist this exploration into one of Arizona’s best grapes.


Southwest Wine Center’s 2915 Tempranillo. I wish I could get better photos, but the lighting there is so difficult.

The Wine:  Like all wines at the Southwest Wine Center, this is a wine that was grown, harvested, made, barreled, aged, bottled, labeled, and will be sold by the students who are part of the Viticulture and Enology program at Yavapai College.  This is a Big Deal.  An even Bigger Deal is that this was the very first vintage produced and made from estate fruit on site.  This wine was aged on 2 year old American oak (effectively neutral oak), and aged for 9-10 months.  The wine itself is a lovely cherry color.Student Valerie Wood took the photo that adorned the label on the day of the harvest, and wrote the haiku which graces the back of the wine label:

“A Sunrise Harvest

Awakens the First Vintage

Cheers Tempranillo.”

The Nose: This wine strikes me as having a very complex nose.  Notes of cedar, plum, and cherry intermingle with intense floral notes of violets, iris, rose, and calla lily. There’s also hints of earth, pepper, and vanilla.

The Palate: This wine is still very, very young, with vigorous, gripping tannins.  Notes of deep plum, cranberry, rosehips, and raspberry intermingle with notes of cedar, violets, frankincense, pepper, and vanilla.  The finish of this wine lasts for 1 minute, four seconds, containing notes of nutmeg, earth, cherry, violets, and monsoon petrichor.

The Pairing: My first thought was Thanksgiving dinner as a pairing (vegan or carnivorous), but this will also work well with smoked or cured pork, chile rellenos, or a five-cheese lasagna.

Impressions:  I strongly recommend decanting this wine for two or three hours at this juncture.  It is a wine with a lot of subtle nuances, so be sure to also take your time with this vintage, as it rewards a watchful, careful drinker.  It is also going to be an affordable Verde Valley Tempranillo, so if you love both the terroir of the Verde Valley and Tempranillo as a grape, but can’t swing a bottle of the Judith from Caduceus, this should definitely be on your list.

This wine is incredibly young, vibrant, and sexy, and will cellar beautifully for 10+ years. I can’t help but think of the classic young woman in a sexy red dress when I think about this wine, but she’s also working on a Ph. D in astrophysics and biology.