Okay, so it took us a few days to recover, find the interviews and generally think about things, but here it is.
This is the third year for the Grand Tasting by the winemaker members of Tempranillo Advocates, Producers and Amigos Society. So this is actually a rather small gathering, as these things go. There were 40 wineries represented, many by the winemakers and owners, themselves, all spread out through the Herbst Pavilion at the Fort Mason Conference Center in San Francisco on Saturday, June 5.
Anne talked briefly with TAPAS Executive Director Heidi Stine as things got going and got the attendance numbers: 1200 people, including trade and consumers.
“It’s double from last year and we’ve exceeded our numbers,” Stine said.
But even though it is comparatively small, it’s no mean feat to get something like this up and rolling, especially with wines that are not very well known, such as tempranillo and albarino and other grapes from the Iberian peninsula (aka Spain and Portugal). In fact, Stine said the toughest part was letting folks know about the event.
“I think [it’s] getting the word out, so that you can get people to attend,” Stine said. “That they come and try the wine, because we’re kind of a niche market with Iberians.”
The tasting was held in two phases, with trade (folks who own restaurants and stores, and, okay, us media folk) getting a couple hours before the consumers came in. This doesn’t sound very fair on the face of it, but in a way, it is. Trade folk are tasting to see what they want to stock in their respective restaurants and stores and so they’re tasting with a serious purpose. So giving them a couple hours to taste in a relatively uncrowded room shows the wines off to their best advantage. Which means a greater likelihood that you’ll be able to find a nice tempranillo or albarino at your local wine store or bistro.
And we hope you do because tempranillo and albarino are great wines – very versatile and perfect for summer drinking. The tempranillo is a red grape and it can be on the tannic side – that really dry feeling you get on your teeth and on the back of your palate. That usually means the wine can be saved for a few more years, rather than being drunk when it’s released. Albarino is a white grape that makes a crisp, almost tangy wine that plays especially well with grilled seafood. Actually, both are great food wines.
Some of the other highlights of the day were the foods. There was a ginormous cheese plate, two caterers sharing their tapas goodies and a massive paella. Folks were standing in line for hours waiting to get their little platefuls, and we must say, it was pretty darned tasty, especially with a couple tempranillo roses.
We’ll be scattering tasting notes and interviews throughout the next few months – in between the Hospice du Rhone and Family Winemaker and Pinot Days results, plus our own visits and whatever else comes up.