I have two bottles of Tempranillo to go with pork chops and mushroom sauce. Tempranillo is one of my favorite grapes for pork. I purchased both of these from Trader Joe’s recently; they both have 3 months of oak aging, and they each have an interesting twist.
La Finca is from Argentina – even though it’s a Spanish-speaking country, the Argentinian wine industry was mostly influenced by the Italian immigrants of the 19th century; you find more French and Italian grapes there than you do Spanish. Since this is a Trader Joe’s exclusive wine, there isn’t anything on this particular bottling on the company website, but there is great info on how they produce their other wines.
Viriato is labelled as a “Tinto de Toro”, which is the local synonym for Tempranillo in the Toro region of Spain. Quite often you find some minor genetic variation in regions which use different names – but it’s not guaranteed; new producers often get cuttings from whichever sub-variety is most prolific, is easiest to breed, or just happens to be fashionable at the moment.
La Finca Tempranillo (2012) Mendoza, Argentina – $5.
Color: ordinary garnet-cherry red.
Aroma: clean red berry fruit, including red currant and pomegranate.
Taste: clean on the palate as well; nice length and body for an inexpensive wine, with no off-notes.
Viriato Tinto de Toro (2010) Toro, Spain – $10.
Color: red with a purple edge; there was a significant tartrate deposit on the cork.
Aroma: a darker nose, with more pronounced spice note and more black fruit.
Taste: this is chewy – probably the most tannic Tempranillo I’ve had for under $30; you could stand this up proudly against quality Riojas. More pepper and earth notes, plus some cocoa on the finish.
These are both really nice wines, and they are both well-suited for pork. I’d recommend them each for different reasons. La Finca is a great bargain – a nice Tempranillo for $5 is hard to turn away. It’s definitely something to consider for your next party. Viriato is just a good wine, period. Excellent depth, nice balance, good fruit and spice notes, and only $10. Like I said above, this could substitute for a lot of $30 Riojas. Grab a bottle or two of each!