A “Tempranillo” Autumn
September 25, 2007
Normally, here in Sonoma, it doesn’t really feel like fall until October or November. That’s when the leaves begin to turn and wood smoke tickles your nose. But this year is different.
Last week, when the calendar marked the official start to autumn, the clouds hung low and dark and the air smelled wet. And when the sun burned through the next morning, exposing a sky brittle-cold and blue, I noticed its lackadaisical angle, like it was leaning back on its elbows and taking on a more mellow mood.
Fitting, then, that in the midst of this shift we should enjoy a simple meal of late-summer fare from the garden with a bottle of Tempranillo—a grape whose name derives from the Spanish word temprano, which means “early.” I couldn’t bring myself to make a braise; not just yet. So we sliced up a couple of eggplant and an almost-oversized zucchini and slathered them with olive oil before setting them on the grill next to a couple of sausages.
Then we popped the cork. A Clos du Bois 2004 Reserve Tempranillo from Alexander Valley, of which only 1000 cases were produced. Tempranillo is a popular grape in Spain, but still a find here in the US. It can be finessed into a thing of wonder by both viticulturist and winemaker, and this one was (Clos du Bois’ Tempranillo vines are some of Keith’s babies). We swirled and there were blueberries, lingonberries and marmalade on the nose. We sipped and it was surprisingly balanced, with more acid and tannin than I expected. The flavor was full and leathery, with black cherry and tarragon on the palate and a lingering fruit finish.
With candles lit, simple summer sustenance kissed by the last of the season’s fire on our plates, it was a perfect pairing.
And now? I’m ready for autumn . . . bring it on.