Truchard Vineyards

2006 Carneros Tempranillo

Tempranillo •Truchard Estate Vineyard

California: Napa Valley: Carneros

Offer Expired:Jan 17, 2011 at 11:59 pm
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Mission Codename: Carneros – Rioja West.

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Send Agent Red back to Truchard vineyards, a long-standing Operative favorite, to procure an ample allotment of their fabled Tempranillo

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Truchard Vineyards

Wine Subject: 2006 Carneros Tempranillo

Winemaker: Sal De Ianni

Backgrounder: Native to Spain, Tempranillo is a black grape that is most commonly found in Rioja. The varietal derives its name as Tempranillo ripens several weeks earlier (mas temprano) than the other red grapes native to the region. And, while not true, many believe this grape to be related to Pinot Noir. With its rich and full-bodied character, crowd pleasing aromas and flavors of dark berries, plum, vanilla, herbs and a touch of leather, Tempranillo is now widely planted all around the globe.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Deep ruby red, with a slightly darker core that shows just a little opaque when viewed held up to a bright light. At the edges of the wine, a ring of soft pink encircles the glass. When swirled, the wine leaves behind widely spaced legs.

Smell – Exotic and complex, with dark mixed berry compote that mingles with burnt caramel, dried red apple, strawberry, saddle leather, mixed brown spice, dark minerals and the unique (and pleasant) aroma of pure castile.

Feel – Medium bodied and slightly weighty, right at the outset. Then, the wine moves quickly across the mid-palate, before it settles in with a plush mineral dryness that spreads slowly from mid-tongue outward – gradually drying the lips and cheeks. All the while, a bright acidity supports the dark fruit and spice.

Taste – Darkly earthy mixed berries mingle with a prominent dried blackcurrant that seems steeped in smoky molasses. Dried black flower petals, dark leather, dried India black tea leaf and a mineral-driven black pepper sit just below the surface.

Finish – Complex, supple and long-lingering, with leather and berries that gently yield to spice, black pepper and, eventually, the smokey molasses from the palate.

Conclusion – The 2006 Truchard Vineyards Carneros Tempranillo is a fantastic example of California Tempranillo, with complex flavors and unique aromatics. Most of the Cali Tempranillo that we have sampled suffers from too much oak. This wine certainly shows a positive influence from its barrel regimen, without imparting and of the often overpowering barrel characteristics. This wine is dark, smoky and rich, with a plush feel and plenty of flavor – but this is all tempered with an even acidity that makes it a fantastic paring partner for a seafood Paella or a rich wild mushroom risotto. Or, enjoy it all on its own. Decant for optimum results.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Sal De Ianni

WINE EDUCATION: Masters Degree/Viticulture & Enology/UC Davis

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: 1994 Hess Collection, Harvest Intern / 1995-1997 Cuvaison Winery, Enologist/Assistant Winemaker / 1998-present, Truchard Vineyards, Winemaker

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Hands-off, good fruit makes good wine.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: “It’s all about balance”



AGENT RED: Greetings, Sal. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Carneros Tempranillo today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

SAL DE INANI: No problem!

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

SAL: Growing up, my family always enjoyed wine at dinner. While I was at Northwestern University working on a Ph.D in Analytical Chemisty, I started taking some wine appreciation courses to break up the monotony of my research… After about 6 months I was obsessed with wine and didn’t really care about my research any more. I quit Northwestern and moved to California to attend the UC Davis wine program.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

SAL: Dr. Michael Peterkin – owner/winemaker of Pierro Margaret River Vineyards (Western Australia). I had the pleasure to work with him for 8 months in 1997.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

SAL: Tony & JoAnn Truchard (owners of Truchard Vineyards) and myself. We like the same style of wine – elegant, fruit forward, high-acid, lower alcohol – wine that belongs on the table with food. We find that our tastes match those of the fans of our wines!

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

SAL: 2006 Tempranillo – an interesting varietal (Rioja region in Spain) that is gaining some popularity here in California. It has an exotic nose (plum, tobacco, spice), intense flavors (cherries, red currants) and a bright, moderately tannic finish. A great food wine.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

SAL: Anything off the grill – Meat, Sausage, Veggies. Also great with Pasta and Pizza.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Napa side of Carneros so special?

SAL: Carneros is known for its foggy mornings, cooler temperatures, and afternoon ocean breezes. The Truchard Estate Vineyard has a variety of different soils and many hills and valleys. The combination of climate, topography, and geology makes for a very balanced vineyard and an extremely long growing season (long hang-time). All of the resulting wines are intense but refined; and the reds have great color with a round, ripe tannin structure.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

SAL: Tasting and assessing the 2010 wines – they are looking good.

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

SAL: The wines from Truchard Vineyards are made in a more European Style – less new oak, higher acid, and lower alcohol. They are best enjoyed with food and have great aging potential. As for wine in general – WINE IS FOOD – I think a lot of people have forgotten that.

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

SAL: Don’t let anyone tell you what wine you should be drinking – drink what you enjoy. Myself, I drink more beer than wine.

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Trouchard winery, which can be visited by appointment only, can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

Tempranillo is the noble grape of Spain. It is the predominant varietal in the wines from the famous Rioja region. In 1998 two acres of Tempranillo were planted on an isolated knoll in the southern part of the Truchard Estate Vineyard. Tempranillo makes a unique, spicy wine, with deep purple color, lush texture, and firm acidity. It is a wonderful food wine.

About The Vineyard:

The Truchard Estate Vineyard is located in the Carneros region of the Napa Valley. It is 380 acres of hills and valleys, which contain a variety of soils: clay, shale, sandstone, limestone, volcanic ash and rock. The combination of terrain, geology, and marine-moderated temperatures, provides ideal conditions for wine-growing. Cabernet Franc is planted in several different sites – on steep southwest-facing hillsides. The vines range from 8 to 22 years old, and produce wines that are deep in color, dominated by lush flavors of plum, berry, and spice. Cabernet Sauvignon which grows on adjacent blocks is blended in to provide firmness, complexity, and added age ability.

About The Winery:

Truchard Vineyards is a small family owned winery in Carneros region of Napa Valley. Proprietors Tony and Jo Ann Truchard have managed a successful vineyard and grown exceptional grapes for over 30 years. Through their hard work and devotion to this unique property, they helped pioneer grapegrowing in the Carneros. In 1989 the Truchards established a winery and began producing wines using only their estate-grown fruit.

About The Winemaker:

Sal De Ianni: I was born and raised in Greenfield, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. I attended Marquette University, and graduated in 1991 with a BS in Chemistry. In the fall of 1991 I moved to Evanston, Illinois, and began graduate studies at Northwestern University. My goal was to earn a Ph. D. in Analytical Chemistry, then find a well-paying job doing research and development. While at Northwestern, I enrolled in some wine appreciation classes hoping to break up the monotony of my research. Six months later the wine courses were more interesting than my research; I decided that I would rather pursue a wine-related job than a career in chemistry. By December of 1992 I had earned a MS in Analytical Chemistry; that same month I was accepted to the Viticulture and Enology department at UC Davis. I moved to California in May of 1993 and began classes that fall.

I worked my first harvest in 1994 at Hess Collection Winery. I spent 6 months in the cellar, and then returned to school. During the 1995 vintage, I worked at Cuvaison Winery, in both the cellar and the lab. After six months, I went back to Davis to finish my thesis:
“Investigating Methods of Detecting Urea in Wine.” In the summer of 1996, I received my MS in Enology and returned to Cuvaison for the upcoming harvest, as the enologist.
Immediately after harvest I was offered the opportunity work in Margaret River, Western Australia. I would be the “
temporary” winemaker at a small ultra-premium winery – Pierro Margaret River Vineyards. I left for Australia in January 1997 and returned to Cuvaison in August, just in time for the 1997 harvest there in California.

After my winemaking experience in Australia, it was hard to go back to being an enologist; so I began searching for a winemaking position in the Napa Valley. I answered a help-wanted ad the local paper which read “small, family-owned winery looking for a hands-on winemaker.” I joined Tony and Jo Ann Truchard at Truchard Vineyards in January 1998.

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