Another Fine Tempranillo Bargain

Mano a Mano Tempranillo

Mano a Mano Tempranillo (Castilla La Mancha, Spain) - Everyday low price $12.50
I’ve written about Spanish Tempranillo wines before. In March of 2009 I wrote:

Tempranillo is Spain’s quintessential, indigenous “Noble Grape”. Jancis Robinson says in the Oxford Companion to Wine, that it is “Spain’s answer to Cabernet Sauvignon.” It is a “classic” quality grape variety and responsible for making some of Spain’s best wines. The term “Tempranillo” comes from the Spanish word temprano, for “early”, referring to the fact that this grape ripens sooner than the other traditional varietals in Spain (2 weeks earlier than Garnacha, for example). It’s a thick-skinned black grape used to make full-bodied red wines of various styles, depending on where it’s grown, vinified and blended.

And I’ve written about the great Rioja blends of Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo. Or the “Super Riojans” that blend the Tempranillo with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. But I keep coming back to the fact that I think Tempranillo-based wines from Spain are the most food-friendly value-priced wines in the world.
So I’m pleased to introduce another one, Mano a Mano Tempranillo from Castilla La Mancha. Mano a Mano is the personal project of Jorge Ordonez, the leading importer of Spanish wines in the United States. It’s amazing how many wines we carry from the “JO” collection. Recognize any of these?

Shaya Verdejo, Vina Borgia Garnacha, Borsao, Monte Oton Garnacha, Tres Picos Garnacha, Paso a Paso Tempranillo, Botani Moscatel, Bodegas Muga Rosé, Sierra Cantabria Rioja, Protocolo, Altos de Luzon.

Everything about Mano a Mano (“hand in hand”) reflects Ordonez's natural “hands on” approach to winemaking, as the name implies. Even the label for Mano a Mano was originally hand drawn by Jorge Ordonez's children. The Mano a Mano winery is located on some of the best terruña (what the Frenchies call "terroir") of La Mancha. This is estate-grown 100% Tempranillo, all from old vines averaging more than 40 years of age.
Spanish Tempranillo in its classic guise can be a little too lean and acidic for American tastes. That style goes well with Spanish tapas, like olives, almonds, ham or Manchego cheese. JO’s Protocolo is a good example. But sometimes that food-friendly acidity doesn’t bring out the wonderful dried cherry and red berry fruit flavors that can come from ripe Tempranillo grapes. Here Jorge Ordoñez has used the ripeness generated by the abundant La Mancha sun and gentled it with oak and bottle aging, providing an entry-level Tempranillo that’s more approachable to Americans used to ripe, fruit-forward wines from California or Australia.
This is a wine that is enjoyable with tapas, with a meal, with a group of friends, or with a good book. So pass by the bargain basement Cabs and middling Merlots of the big box stores. Come into Wine & Words and become a proud Tempranillo drinker. Salud!