June Domestic Wine: 2010 Clayhouse 'Adobe Red', Paso Robles, CALIFORNIA

“Our label and brand celebrate a historic home at our estate vineyard near Paso Robles. That 150-year-old adobe structure – the Clayhouse itself – still reminds us of the time when grapes were first planted in this area. The Clayhouse, which we’ve carefully restored, is really the ideal symbol for our vineyard and winery. After all, like the adobe, our wines are created from the earth, cultivated by hand, and nurtured by family traditions.

For the Middleton family, those traditions and deep passion for agricultural businesses go back more than four generations.

Today, Clayhouse Wines extend that proud family legacy with a selection of exceptional wines, all crafted by hand in a refined, elegant style that reflects the unique character of Paso Robles and the depth of flavor that the Central Coast imparts.”-clayhouse.com

About ‘The Clayhouse’:  “The 150-year-old adobe structure — the Clayhouse itself — really is the ideal symbol for our vineyards. After all, like the adobe, our wines are created from the earth, cultivated by hand, and nurtured by family traditions.

For the Middleton family, those traditions and deep passion for agricultural businesses go back more than four generations. Today, Clayhouse extends that proud legacy with its selection of exceptional wines, all hand-crafted in a refined, elegant style that reflects the unique character of Paso Robles.”-clayhouse.com

Vintage Description: Even fairly mild summer for Paso Robles. Yields were average producing a good well rounded vintage with expressive fruit flavors.

Varietal: 33% Zinfandel, 32% Petite Sirah, 20% Syrah, 13% Tempranillo, 2% Tanat

Alcohol: 13.7% by volume

Tasting Notes: Sweet ripe red cherries aromas. Jammy strawberry preserves and spice combine in the mouth in this complex blend of fruit flavors. Tannins are soft and rounded with a rich mouthfeel and warm toasty vanilla laced finish.

Food Pairings: This wine is a reliable Jack of all trades, made for cheeses, meat and red sauce based pastas, bbq, pizza or just sipping with friends.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “A great blend! Tons of concentration and flavor. A wine that will make you stand up and take notice. A wine that is a perfect summertime sipper! Drink with rich cheeses and hardy meats!”-JL

September Imported Wine: 2011 Luberri 'Orlegi' Tempranillo, Rioja, SPAIN

Owned by Florentino Martinez Monje, Luberri is located in Elciego in the heart of Rioja Alavesa. Florentino farms 35 hectars of old vines located principally between the villages of Elciego and La Guardia.

A farmer at heart, Florentino was the original winemaker at Artadi before establishing his own winery in 1992. Florentino is hands-on at the winery, working on all aspects of production, but his true love is working in the vineyards. All the plots are farmed with minimal treatment of the soils and vines. Vineyard sites are separately fermented and vinified. By keeping yields low Florentino extracts grapes with great concentration and flavor. Yields are around 34 to 45 hectoliters per hectars.

History of Tempranillo and its Relation to Luberri: Tempranillo is a variety of black grape widely grown to make full-bodied red wines in its native Spain. Its name is the diminutive of the Spanish temprano (“early”), a reference to the fact that it ripens several weeks earlier than most Spanish red grapes. Tempranillo has been grown on the Iberian Peninsula since the time of Phoenician settlements. It is the main grape used in Rioja (Luberri), and is often referred to as Spain’s most noble grape.

Grown early in the 20th century to produce jug wines in California, toward the end of the 20th century Tempranillo enjoyed a renaissance there and throughout the world as a fine wine. The grape has been planted in Mexico, New Zealand, South America, USA, South Africa, Australia, Argentina, Uruguay, Turkey, Canada, etc.  The grape is often blended with Grenache and Cariñena (known in Rioja as Mazuelo), Tempranillo is bottled either young or after several years of barrel aging. The grape often grows best at higher altitudes, giving the wine a ruby color, with aromas and flavors of berries, plum, tobacco, vanilla, leather, and herb.

Varietals: 100% Tempranillo

Alcohol: 13.0% by volume

Tasting Notes: “Vivid red. Floral- and spice-accented aromas of red fruits, rose and minerals; smells like a Dujac wine. Seductively perfumed in the mouth, with juicy raspberry and floral pastille flavors dominating. Shows impressive clarity and spiciness on the long, sweet finish. This is extremely easy to drink. “-90 Points, International Wine Cellar

Food Pairings: This Tempranillo is the perfect pairing with lasagna, pasta Bolognese, hearty meat dishes, or Mexican cuisine.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “This is an iconic area of Spain. I love Rioja! The Tempranillo truly shines here. Flavors are dry and savory, with nutty components as well. Loads of cedar and tobacco too. The wine is long and concentrated on the palate as well, with layers of complexity. This wine screams ‘RIOJA!’”-JL