First of all, you’re probably asking, what’s TAPAS stand for? TAPAS is the Tempranillo Advocates, Producers, and Amigos Society. As their name suggests, TAPAS “promotes new world production of wine grapes and wine styles native to the Iberian Peninsula – including Spain and Portugal.”
Some of my favorite wines come from Spain — a dry, mountainous country which ranks third in the world in wine production (First – France; Second – Italy). This beautiful country also produced one of the top-ranked tennis players in the world and trust me, there ain’t nothing better than sipping a crisp Albariño and watching Rafael Nadal and Djokovic duel it out. Wanted to toast Rafa himself with a bottle of Spain’s finest as he won his seventh French Open title. But alas, some of Spain’s finest varietals are being cultivated right here in my back yard — good for my tastebuds and my wallet.
Right, back on track, talking about the great Tempranillo, Garnacha, Albariño, Verdejo, Graciano, Mourvedre, Touriga, and Souzão (used in Portugal to make Port wine) that was poured at TAPAs grand tasting this year. The selection was impressive, especially since I didn’t even know there was such a large production of these grapes domestically in the US. The event was definitely a celebration of American producers of Spanish wine grapes and whooo have some of them done it well. As I walk into Fort Mason, where the event was held, I pass a group of fellow wine industry members excitedly chatting about the intricacies of Tempranillo. One is even so excited he swirls his glass just a little too harshly and peppers his companions with droplets of the fine noble wine. I can only assume he was trying to give them a taste, bestowing little droplets of Spain’s, wait no, California’s finest Tempranillo.
Hey, I get exactly what he’s excited about as I speed walk to a table (after eyeing the Smart Water and food stations that I’ll no doubt have to hit up later) and ask for a tasting of a 2007 Tempranillo from Carneros Napa Valley at Truchard Vineyard’s station. Oh man, am I glad I picked this station. Truchard pours one of the best Tempranillos I’ve had in awhile and follows it up with a library tasting of their 2005 Tempranillo. Delicious.
Next up I visit Bokisch Vineyards station where the ladies insisted I tasted their whole flight. I’m suitably impressed as they go from Garnacha, Albarino, Verdelho, Rosado, Garnacha, Tempranillo, and finally to a Graciano. I’m impressed. The Graciano lingers with me with notes of fresh berry pie and homemade jam. Too bad they only sell locally.
I’ve stayed too long at the table and now have to dodge and weave bodies and wine glasses as the doors open for the Public and people crowd around the tables in search of some delicious vino. I stop at several other stations and am impressed by Verdad, St. Amant, and most especially by Viader Vineyards DARE Tempranillo. A winery-exclusive, it’s GOOD, made from a Ribera del Duero clonal selection from NE Napa Valley. Perfectly dry with bright red fruits, soft minerality and earthy notes. It’s so good I spend a good five minutes talking to a stranger about how just good it is.
Sadly, I don’t have time to taste every single vineyard but am glad I made it to TAPAs grand wine tasting. Great wines, bread stations, lots of pouring stations, everything thought of except for more trashcans – leave it to wine-muddled minds to leave food wrappings on every table service. But all-in-all a very well run event that I can’t help but say salud! (cheers) to.