Posts Tagged ‘tempranillo


In Pursuit of the Juiciest Wine: Day 121 – Ergo Tempranillo Rioja 2009

Ergo Tempranillo Rioja 2009Tonight concludes the first week as student and teacher at the University of Southern Mississippi. It was only a half week, but, man, it felt full – for sure . . . and busy. So this evening, I’m just going to relax and recover, because this all starts up again tomorrow morning when I make syllabus plans for the next week of teaching ENG 101.

Tonight’s wine is Ergo Tempranillo Rioja 2009. Bonus, I will use the decanter for the first time in my Hattiesburg Hacienda.

When I was looking for images of this bottle, I kept finding returns with “Martín Códax Ergo Tempranillo” or variations on the order of words. I just looked on the back of the bottle, and “Martín Códax” is there. I think it is the vineyard. According to Wikipedia:

Martín Códax was a Galician medieval jogral (non-noble composer and performer — as opposed to a trobador), possibly from Vigo, Galicia, in present day Spain. He may have been active during the middle of the thirteenth century, judging from scriptological analysis (Monteagudo 2008). He is one of only two out of a total of 88 authors of cantigas d’amigo who uses only the archaic strophic form aaB (a rhymed distich followed by a refrain). And he also employs an archaic rhyme-system whereby i~o / a~o are used in alternating strophes. In addition Martin Codax consistently deploys a strict parallelistic technique known as leixa-pren [. . . ]. His dates, however, remain unknown and there is no documentary biographical information concerning the poet.

And then a little more research tells me:

Bodegas Martín Códax was founded in 1986 and was named after the most known Galician troubadour whose medieval poems, the oldest of Galician-Portuguese language, are preserved. In the poems, the troubadour sings to love and to the sea of our coastline (

Sweet: School. Decanter. Wine. Friday. Poet. It’s on baby. It’s on.

The color is dark maroon with hints of light purple or pink. It’s about 80 percent opaque.

Thee nose is spicy and with dark berries and with some dirt. To me it smells like what Spain would smell like near the Atlantic Ocean or the Straight of Gibraltar. Yes, I’m actually picking up salty sea air odors, and I picked up before using that quote about who the wine was named after. Ok. . . . A little more research shows me that this winery is in northwest Spain and right close to the Atlantic Ocean.

Cambados, the capital of the Salnés Valley

Cambados, the capital of the Salnés Valley

The winery is in Cambados, the capital of the Salnés Valley.

A little more research suggests the vineyard is closer to the Mediterranean Sea and in northeast Spain.

But if I think about it some more, Rioja is in central northern Spain.

Ergo, ha, I don’t where the hell this place is.

Arg. Nonetheless, it’s near salty water and I can smell it. It’s in there, damn it.

I had this wine the other day, and I thought it was okay. Today it’s a bit more tart and drier than I remember. The berries taste lighter than they smelled. It’s not as fruity or fruit forward as I thought it may be or remembered. There’s a bit of dark chocolate in here somewhere, too. And some plums.

It’s a pretty good wine. Certainly it’s 88 points, but I don’t think 89 points. It’s a good everyday Tempranillo. Have some. I think it might go well with some spicy shrimp sushi or well-cooked barbecued chicken.//


In Pursuit of the Juiciest Wine: Day 120 – Tittarelli Tempranillo Reserva 2005

Tittarelli Tempranillo Reserva 2005I went to Bed, Bath, & Beyond yesterday to pick up  a $2 wine glass, because it has to be better than drinking out of that mini-jelly-jam-mason-jar-wine-glass from the Juiciest Wine Tour Day 119. And tonight I will test it out on Tittarelli Tempranillo Reserva 2005 because there’s nothing else to do, and the daily late-afternoon/early-evening thunderstorm has come and gone, and my stuff won’t arrive from New York until Monday, so bottoms up.

Wow, that’s a big picture of that bottle. I took it with my two-month old Galaxy S II phone, and it takes huge pictures. The original size was like 12″ x 44″. I tried to shrink it down, but I guess I didn’t shrink it enough. If you click on it, you can get an even bigger image. (I should have kept the resolution at 72 when I shrunk the size, but I made it 300 dpi for a better pic, which is probably why it’s still so big. Ok. Boring.)

According to Cellar Tracker, “Tempranillo is the premium red wine grape variety from the Rioja and Ribera del Duero region in Spain,” but this one is from Argentina. I love Tempranillo, but I’ve never had one from below the equator. (Cellar Tracker is somehow associated with Grape Stories, which is a place where I put these reviews, too, but an abbreviated version. If you like wine, and want to know about any bottle of wine you can find, they probably have a review of it there.)

Enough chit chat. To the wine. Allons-y.

This wine has been opened (as well as the back door) and in glass for over 30 minutes. It’s a new world wine, so it should definitely be ready to drink by now.

The nose has leather, smoke, pepper, and dark currants and maybe watermelon. It smells like a picnic on the edge of a forest. I’m waiting from drunken woodland creatures and ungulates to stagger out. [Wait for it.]

The color is a dark maroon, and it has long, sexy, colorful legs. The meniscus is short and dark, but not as dark as the wine.

It’s very dry on the taste and finish, which tastes cheap.

The taste is herbaceous and it makes my mouth pucker as if I had just sucked on some alum. I can find dark, sour cherries, too.

I don’t know what I think about this wine. It certainly lacks the soul of a Spanish Tempranillo.

Bleu cheese would probably go good with this. I don’t recommend drinking wine with chicken wings, even though I have, but if you do want to combine wings and wine, this might be the wine to do it with. . . . Ah, man, will I ever find good wings down here in the deep, deep south. Now I’m hungry for chicken wings. Sigh. I guess I’ll have a chicken Waldorf salad instead. [Read the last two sentences like Eeyore for the true tonal effect.]


Where are the chicken wings in this rainy, rainy Hattiesburg? Oh where? Oh Where?

So this really isn’t a good wine, especially as a Tempranillo. Eeyore says, “And a new wine glass didn’t even save it.”

86 points. Enough said.//


in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day 102 (Bodegas Beronia Reserva Rioja 2006)

Bodegas Beronia Reserva Rioja 2006I picked up the Bodegas Beronia Reserva Rioja 2006 especially for tonight. Tonight is my last day of full-time work for a while, so I wanted to get something that I think will be good. It’s a blend of Tempranillo, Graciano, and Mazuelo. I love Tempranillo, but I’ve never heard of the other two. I have no idea what it will taste like.

By the way, I forgot that “Bodegas” means “winery” in Spanish. So this wine is from the Beronia winery in Rioja, Spain. And here’s a little history about this winery.

Bodegas Beronia is found in the Rioja Alta area of the region which is situated to the west. In this area, the soil is mainly calcareous clay soil and the vineyards are on average at an altitude of 600 meters. This area’s climatic influences are from the Atlantic. However, due to the Cantabria and Demanda mountain ranges, it is sheltered from the worst Atlantic influences. It also boasts the Ebro river which creates a series of microclimates and provides much needed water for the vines. The situation of Bodegas Beronia is considered to be a unique place for the creation of wines of high quality.

The grapes used at Beronia come from vineyards from within a ten-mile radius of the cellars, ensuring that only the highest quality grapes enter the winery. A close relationship is maintained with the 150 vine growers who supply the grapes, guaranteeing that only the best quality grapes are selected and that the process is done so in the most natural way. Our technical experts frequently visit the estates to ensure that the use of fertilisers and chemicals are kept to a minimum. It is our priority to maintain healthy and high quality grapes.

Beronia, true to its tradition, produces a classic line of fine and well-balanced wines, Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva. In addition to these two white wines, a young Viura and a barrel fermented Viura. However they satisfy their innovative and avant-garde side with an interesting range of single variety wines, special production Tempranillo and Beronia Mazuelo Reserva, making them the only winery in Rioja to produce a reserve wine from the Mazuelo grape.

(cited from with some editing by me.)

And if you want even better history and story about this wine, check out the post on Le Dom di Vin. Now that’s a history!

And as explained in an earlier post:

Crianza means the wine has aged for two years and at least six months of that ageing was done in oak. Spain has some regulations, don’t you know. If you see a Reserva, that means the wine was aged three years with at least one year in oak. And if you see Gran Reserva, then it has aged for five years with at least 18 months in oak and three years in a bottle.

This is the Reserva, so it’s been aged for three years, and at least one of those years was in oak.


To the wine!


This wine looked darker when I poured it, and it’s still dark, but not as solid dark as I previously witnessed. The color actually pairs well with my dark red and black flannel. That’s right. I now pair my wines with my clothing.

The nose has dark berries, mustiness, tobacco, and some cranberries.

It has a sour, smoky finish. It’s a completely different wine on the finish. And it lingers for a long time in the mouth and throat and in the goose bumps that arise after the swallow. That was after the first taste. On the second taste, the sourness disappears, and the finish lasts as long as vapor.

Thinking of vapor. There’s a lot of alcohol in this one. Whoo.

Those other two grapes are pretty dominant in this wine. There are stealing the typical juiciness of the Tempranillo.

This wine would go good with steak and hamburgers and feta cheese. I keep wanting feta cheese with each sip.

There’s nothing exceptional about this wine, unless you like them dark. Robert Parker might like it, but I like mine a bit more fruitty and bright.

It’s still pretty good. I’d give it like a B+/89. It definitely needs some food to tame it.//


in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day ninety-eight (Vina Zaco Temrpanillo 2007)

Vina Zaco Tempranillo 2007The 98th wine of the Juiciest Wine tour is Bodegas Bilbainas Vina Zaco Tempranillo 2007 from Rioja, Spain.

I don’t know anything about this wine. I just randomly picked it off the shelf. I like Tempranillo especially from Spain and especially from Rioja. And I like the label design – clean, simple, inventive and with movement.

The back label has this to say:

     A wine with just one puprpose: to be Rioja
     Its character, the fruit, and the expression of Tempranillo
     Rebellious, authentic, and delicious

Oh, and it’s 100% Temprnillo. I’m felling good about this one. Allons-y.

I get a dark cola on the nose, a hint of melon, tree bark, blackberries, maybe some moss, and dried mushrooms. Hmm. It’s almost like a forest. I do keep picturing the side of a mountain on the border of trees and rocks.  Something like this:

Mountain Side

or this:

Ch-paa-qn PeakBut more trees.


The body is eloquent. It’s like a waterfall.

Mountainside Waterfall

There are definitely some cherries in here. It’s trying to be jammy, too. It’s got red fruit and berries, so it’s kinda juicy. There’s just enough tannins in here to hold back that potential juiciness I crave.

The finish has a hint of spice, maybe cinnamon, but it’s a clean finish. It goes quick.

Ths Vina Zaco is quite deceptive. It’s trying to be something grand, but it’s too humble. It’s holding back. Maybe in another year or two it will flourish. But it’s still good.

I give it like a B+ or an 89.

I think it needs food.

Now, it’s getting addictive. I sip, set it down, sip, set it down. . . .  It’s all one long motion. It’s addictive because it tastes good and because, damn it, there’s something going on in it beyond my reach. It”s seductive, mysterious, and romantic.//


On Joanne Diaz’s The Lessons

A version of this may appear in an upcoming issue of Redactions: Poetry & Poetics.

What immediately turned me on to Joanne Diaz‘s The Lessons (Silverfish Review Press, 2011) was when I read the opening poem “Granada” on Verse Daily on June 3. I fell in love with the poem. I tweeted and made a Facebook post that read something like, “This #poem explodes at the end. What a terrific poem” Here it is:


   To be so far from oxtail stew, sardines
   in garlic sauce, blood oranges in pails
   along the avenida, midday heat
   wetting necks and wrists; to be so stuck
   in stone-thick ice and clouds and recall
   the pomegranate we shared, its hardened peel,
   the translucent membrane gently parting
   seed from luscious crimson seed, albedo
   soft beneath bald rind, acid juice
   running down our fingers, knuckles, palms,
   the mild chap of our lips from mist and flesh;
   so far away from that, and still
   the tangy thought of pomegranates
   crowning coats-of-arms and fortress gates
   like beating hearts prepared to detonate
   their countless seeds across Granada,
   ancient town of strangled rivers
   and nameless bones in every desert hill...
   In Spain, said Lorca, the dead are more alive
   than any other place on earth. Imagine, then,
   the excavation of his unmarked grave
   like the quick pull on a grenade's pin,
   and the sound that secrets make
   as they return from that other world
   of teeth and blood and fire.

Joanne Diaz – The LessonsThe poems in The Lessons are juicy. I love the way the poems feel in my mouth. I enjoy all the details in the poems. Who says you can’t write poems with details anymore? Well, you can, and Diaz shows us how.

But there’s more than detail to these poems. There is wonderful leaping and yoking together of different images and events. For instance, the poem “Violin” is a poem about the life of a violin from when it was both “horse and tree” to the sounds it makes and how it “almost pulls itself / apart, longing for what it was”. The poem does this for nine unrhymed couplets. The poem could end after the ninth couplet, and it would be a fine poem, but then there’s the leap the poem makes from the ninth couplet to the tenth. The leap does what good poems often do – it uses the particular to illuminate something in humanity. Here are the last two couplets to show what you I mean:

   [. . . ] A violin almost pulls itself
   apart, longing for what it was, not unlike

   my father as he stood by the open mailbox
   reading my brother's first letter home.

And there’s a whole other story in that last couplet. Where is his son? At war? In the Peace Corps? Working abroad as a doctor in some small underprivileged village somewhere? And then the mind after the poem is done is trying to build more of a story into that last couplet. But the important thing is the violin and father relationship. The yoking of the two. The use of the violin to understand the father. The violin helps us understand what it’s like for the father to get that first letter. And this feeling is communicated well and well before it’s understood.

There’s something else going on in that leap, too. The poem leaps from being lyrical to being narrative. (By narrative I mean a poem that moves through time and that has causality. By lyrical I mean a poem that exists without time or is a vertical moment in time or is a deliberate focus on an item or a thing. W. C. Williams and George Oppen are often lyrical.)

This jump from lyrical to narrative in a poem happens a number of times in The Lessons. For instance, “Love Poem”:

   Love Poem

   I was the warmth that lifted
   from your pilled sheets, the glow
   of Sebastian in the picture book
   of saints, the moon gliding
   through the window beside your bed.

   I was the clock in your kitchen
   waiting to catch you in my gears.
   In the TV, I was the blue tube
   that saw your sadness run as silt
   down a mountain. I was the rush
   in the vein of every oak leaf
   that crowded your window.

   I was the drift of you before your edges
   twisted into a man. The swing
   of your loose pant cuff. The joint
   in the threshold; the rusted cart
   behind the house. You sensed

   a visitor, but how can I say
   that I was the one who curled
   the wallpaper and held the model
   airplane in its place? That it was I
   late at night, running in the current
   of your clock radio, searching
   the seashell of your ear?

In this poem, you see all these vertical moments in time – “I was . . .” . In the the last stanza, we get a bit of narrative:

   [. . .] That it was I
   late at night, running in the current
   of your clock radio, searching
   the seashell of your ear?

The leaps are my favorite occasions in The Lessons. I’m not sure if I’ve encountered that type of leaping before or at least noticed it before, but this time I did. I really enjoy its effects.

The Lessons is Joanne Diaz’s first book. It won the 2009 Gerald Cable Book Award. As a I said, The Lessons is juicy with details – like a good Spanish Tempranillo. It’s juicy in every lyric, narrative, and lyric-leaping-to-narrative poem. In fact, this would be a good book to use in a creative writing poetry workshop, you know, to show and teach students how to use details and how effective details are in creating emotions and engagement and in stimulating the imagination.

Often during The Lessons I feel like Ms. Griffin in Diaz’s poem “The Griffin.” When Ms. Griffin reads George Herbert’s poem “The Collar,” “she nearly left the prison of her body.” I don’t think I left the prison of my body, but I certainly forgot it existed. And that’s a lesson – good poetry is a momentary stay against confusion, and there are many momentary stays in Joanne Diaz’s first collection of poems, The Lessons.





I wish to thank Silverfish Review Press for providing such a detailed and narrative filled colophon about the Jenson typeface. I wish more publishers would do this.//

The Cave (Winner of The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013.)

The Cave

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