Bending Branch Winery – A Bigger, Bolder Texas Tempranillo… Red Wines of Summer 2023 Part 2 , “Blue Blazes” Edition – Viva la Différence

It’s still hotter here in Texas than, as they say in the south, “blue blazes”. It’s been like having three months of extreme August weather. So, as I told you before, I’m just staying inside as much as I can in cool air conditioned comfort, drinking red wine, and pretending it’s October.

Just in case your not familiar with the term for “hot” I used up top, check this out: The term “blaze” typically refers to a fierce fire but, starting in the 19th century, was also commonly used by southerners to reference the “fires of hell.” Thus, when someone calls a day “hotter than blue blazes,” they mean it’s more scorching than the hottest flames of hellfire. I think that this year qualifies. Don’t you?

Back to My Red Wine Story…

As I was searching through my wine cooler, I found that I had actually several Texas High Plains Tempranillos from 2018. So, I decided to do a comparative tasting, tasted blind of course. As I set up three glasses and poured the wines from unmarked bottles, I noticed that two were much lighter than the third despite all being made with Texas High Plains fruit from 2018.

Difference in color and body between two of the three 2018 Texas Tempranillos

Was it Because of the Weather?

This caused me to check on the historical weather from the Lubbock area in the summer of 2018. Well, the best I can ascertain, the spring was uneventful for late freezes. I showed only one low temperature excursion in early April around freezing, but clear sailing after that. As it went into summer in 2018, there were a few 100 F days, but mostly the high temperatures were in the 90s up until a few weeks of harvest. The notable weather events that I noticed were about 7-plus inches of rain in the lead up to and during the high plains harvest period. Well, it could have been the weather, I guess, but perhaps there were other factors.

To paraphrase what they say on Sesame Street, “Why was one of these wines not like the others?

Bending Branch 2018 Newsom Vineyard Tempranillo

The different Tempranillo was notably bigger and bolder than the others, and the aromatics were also kicked up a notch. I later checked and found that it was the one from Bending Branch Winery – their 2018 Newsom Vineyards Tempranillo. It was not just a little bit different. It was notably different!

Bending Branch 2018 Newsom Vineyards Texas High Plains Tempranillo

I know that winery owner Dr. Bob Young loves grape varieties and winery processing methods that provide red wine with more body, color and aromatic components. As a matter of fact, I asked Dr. Bob what was up with this wine.

More than One Style of Tempranillo

Dr. Young said, “I love the bolder Tempranillos, particularly those that come from Ribera del Duero in Spain. This style of wine best fits our goal at Bending Branch to make bolder style red wines from Texas fruit.” 

Just in case you didn’t know, Spain actually has several styles of Tempranillo wine made in its various regions. A classic style that most people know is the one from Rioja. These are usually wines of medium body and color, yet great expression in the glass. The ultimate of Rioja wines are those made with Tempranillo grapes grown at the highest elevations. This is in Rioja Alta that provides their wines finesse through a dominant red cherry flavor and aroma with dry, dusty-mineral nuances.

Dr. Bob Young (owner), Jennifer Cernosek (general manager), Janice and Neal Newsom (vineyard owners)

The Spanish region that Dr. Bob is using as a model for this Tempranillo wine is that of Ribera del Duero. The wines from the warmer Ribera tend to have a deeper color, more tannins, more intense dark fruit character, and fuller bodied.

Flash Makes “La Différence”

In reference to his approach to his 2018 Newsom Vineyards Tempranillo, Dr. Young said, “I like to extract as much phenolics (anthocyanins and tannins) as I can. In order to do this in this wine it was 50% Flash Détente co-fermented with 50% whole berries. Also, this is 100% Newsom Tempranillo.”

Flash Deténte is a winery thermovinification process that works by quickly heating the grapes to a high temperature, then immediately cooling them with pressure reduction. Dr. Bob’s Bending Branch Winery was one of the first wineries outside of California that acquired this technology.

The “Flash” process literally disintegrates the grape skins releasing more essence of the grapes than can be achieved by other techniques. The results are rounder, fuller, and more fruit-forward wines, more aromatics and stable color.

Dr. Bob Young processing grapes with Flash Deténte

According to Dr. Young, “The extra color from flashing binds with tannins to form the silky smooth tannins called Procyanidins. The other component here in this wine is the extended barrel aging for 32 months. This extended barrel aging helped to integrate the tannins. I think this is a great example of how using ‘Flash’ to extract more phenolics from Texas fruit can produce bolder, more full-bodied and structured Tempranillo or other red varietal wines.”

Evidently, it wasn’t only me who noticed the special quality of this wine. It received a Gold Medal in the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo Wine Competition.

From the Bending Branch Winery website, it appears that they have already moved on to the 2019 vintage release of their Newsom Vineyard Tempranillo. To read more about it, click here. The 2019 Bending Branch Newsom Vineyard Tempranillo, seems to be doing well have been awarded Gold/Reserve Class Champion/Reserve Texas Class Champion – 2023 Houston Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition.

It time to enjoy some wine. Cheers!

Photo from Bending Branch Vertical Tasting of Their Newsom Vineyards Tempranillos
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Love to taste, talk and tweet about Texas wines and where they are in the global scheme for wines. After all that's the only way they will reach the full potential.

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