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Thanks to the Latin side of the family and the Feast of the Son of Isis, Christmas dinner is one heap of turkey, two dollops of gravy and papas, papas, papas. Also, there is wine. Lots of wine.

Two Wines, One Christmas Bonanza

This year, two tempranillos made it out from the cellar and they couldn’t have been more different. On one of them, we’re looking at a 2003 Crianza that tasted like it was past its prime but had enough steel-edges and back-of-the-mouth light fruitiness to deserve seconds. The other’s a new one, 2008 Argentine from Finca La Linda, could be liquid jam. Probably blackberry jam or maybe something kinda Rudolph-y but fruit on fruit goodness like this German layer cake that made its way to the dinner table (missed the photo op so h/t these guys). Really, the wines could have been alpha and gamma, or the Yankees and Mets for how they tasted.

No Fluke – it’s the Atlantic’s fault

Judging by a quick wikisearch, this difference isn’t a fluke. It’s an oceanic divide. Old-world Tempranillo is all about Spain. It’s the foundation of Rioja, the dye in the awesome-looking Batalla de Vino and even the origin of that weird Spanish lisp (ok, not that one but the lisp legend is really cool). New World Tempranillo’s all about finding that magical fruit combo and pumping it up into something sweet enough that even Americans will enjoy. Yes, I’m sure that’s a gross caricature – still, based on my undeniable sample size of 2 wines, it’s true.

In sum
Old World oxidizes Tempranillo, New World jams to it.

Detail Up Wine Nerds
* Finca La Linda Tempranillo 2008 – what Luigi says
* Rioja Ordate Crianza 2003 – ok, this is a bit of a mystery wine. no reviews and no real info on who the producer is. only tidibt involves a small coop in rioja that made wine back in 2003 – radio silence since 2003. mysterious rioja, you intrigue me.

Google Randoms
* Tempranillo gets blended with Garnacha to make Rioja (Mazuelo and Graciano show up too, in a kind of Steve Buscemi way)
* Tempranillo means “little early one” in the lispy language of Spain. It’s not derrogatory though, it’s just a cute way to remind you to harvest on the early side.
* Port has a bit of Tempranillo in it but the Portuguese prefer the grape name of “Tinta Roriz” (if in port) or “Aragonez” (if part of that awesome Alentejo region).

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Torrontes is way up on my list of favorite whites, mostly due to how much acidity it manages to cram into a glass. For whatever perverse reason, the higher the acidity, the more addictive it is to my taste buds. They yearn to be ceviche in a future life.

Argentina Hogs Torrontes

Argentina’s somehow managed to draw all praise of Torrontes to itself (does anybody else even grow this grape?), and my sommi friend says Salta’s where all that buzz comes from since it’s way up in the mountains. Thinking some wine guy in Wyoming needs to take a hard look at this grape – it’s not like Salta is close to water either.

Luigi Bosca on the Cheap

Finca La Linda’s from Salta and it’s one of Luigi Bosca’s cheaper (cheapest?) brands and even so, this wine’s pretty excellent. And actually, I’m not sure what an expensive Torrontes would be like. More flowers? More kinds of citrus fruits (granadilla, nectarine)? More what? Bacchus forbid they have buttery notes or vanilla coming through this acid express.

Can´t really speak for all Torrontes, but this particular one has loads of lemon and a nice batch of lime too (notice those limes in the background – blessedly unintentional). Sure, it´s got a nose, it’s a cute nose with flowers (little ones, like in the Sound of Music). It’s a nose sorta like one of those little girl, Drew Barrymore noses back in the ET days, but nothing like a cyrano nose that demands entirely focused attention to the detriment of all else. This wine’s all about searing the taste buds into submission.

In sum
Lemons, lemons, limes – the citric duck, duck, goose from Argentina.

Random Googles
* Argentina’s not content with one Torrontes – they have three types of Torrontes.
* Yes, a couple other places in the Americas grow Torrontes. They even make brandy with it and call the grape “Torrontel” to annoy the Argentines.
* Torrontes blogs in its spare time at this site. James Beard approves.

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