Saturday, October 31, 2020

Hammeken Cellars El Gringo 2019 Dark Red Tempranillo, Castilla

This wine salutes the epic Westerns shot in the Spanish desert of Tabernas.

Showdown At High Noon

Fans of Western movies might be surprised to learn that classics like A Fistful of Dollars and 100 Rifles were filmed all or in part in a Spanish desert. Stars like Clint Eastwood, Raquel Welch and Burt Reynolds tramped those dusty trails.

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More recently television shows like Dr. Who and the sixth season of Game of Thrones were filmed there. In an homage to the Western flicks, Hammeken Cellars released El Gringo.

Finger On The Trigger

El Gringo is made with Tempranillo, one of Spain’s best-known red grapes. This is a Vino de la Tierra wine, also known as a wine with protected geographic indications. In short, this is a step down from the DO designation in the Spanish wine quality ladder, but a rung above the plain old table wine. Castilla La Mancha is a huge region in the central part of the country where temperatures can range from 5o Fahrenheit to a blistering 113o.

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We brought this wine out as we were having a socially-distanced dinner with friends on the patio. The Green Dragon, my wife, called for an easy-drinking red wine to accompany our Three-Herb Bean and Pasta dish.

Spurs That Jangle

I had expected a light-bodied, fairly sedate wine. I should have known better. Like the hombre depicted on the label, the wine is bold and memorable. The alcohol is on the high side at 14%, which isn’t uncommon for wines coming from La Mancha. The wine retails for $15.99.

The wine is 100% Tempranillo, which is sometimes called Cencibel in La Mancha. The grapes are grown on plains and rolling hills that range from 1,600 to 4,900 feet.

In the glass, the wine is an almost impenetrable ruby-purple. The wine is medium to full-bodied. The flavors are deeply extracted, with a fruit-driven core of cooked cherries and crushed berries. Flavor notes of toasted oak, mocha and vanilla enhance the experience.

The script for our tasting had a different ending than the Tabernas Desert Westerns. No one got shot, instead, we enjoyed a long, rounded finish as the sun set below the horizon.

Full disclosure: We received this wine as a marketing sample.

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