Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wine Wednesday: Becker Vineyards Reserve Tempranillo

A few weeks ago, I finally opened one of my bottles of Becker Vineyards' 2011 Tempranillo Reserve.  I was excited when it appeared in my May wine club shipment, but I grew more excited after getting a chance to taste it. I knew Becker had really gotten Tempranillo this time. Their last Temp was pleasant, almost too smooth and silky for a Tempranillo. This one, however, took that silkiness and brought forth the best element in a good Tempranillo, the earthiness. When I finally had a glass, I knew this was one of Becker's apostles (see Drops of God post for details). I knew I had to review this wine (see Wine Wednesday Reviews for more details).
Becker Vineyards 2011 Tempranillo Reserve (my spare bottle)

About the Wine

This new Tempranillo is all High-Plains fruit from Cliff Bingham' and Andy Timmon's vineyards. Bingham, well known for growing high quality grapes, helps Becker deliver a superb wine. To round out the Tempranillo, what will help make it a lush and silky red, is Cabernet Sauvignon from one of my favorite vineyards, the Canada vineyards. These are some of the best Texas grapes out there, and in the hands of the folks at Becker, those grapes turn into an incredible wine.

This is a simple and elegant Tempranillo.  The flavors unfold from scent to final lingering aftertaste. The wine's slow development feels natural and seems to be Becker's signature in the Tempranillo. Many Tempranillos start strong; this one grows from subtle to powerful. At the beginning, there is a mild hint of fruit, but it is dry and warm; this helps the wine veer away from being sweet, keeping it in check. This is necessary as the wine develops. Slowly, the earthy flavors come to the front; the spice, the oak, the tobacco are slowly revealed through the tasting. And as these tastes increase, so does the warmth. By the end, this wine creates a pleasant warmth spreading through the drinker.

The Wine's Story

As I drank this rich Tempranillo, I found myself transported to places I had once been. I first thought of a recent visit to Inks Lake State Park. I also thought of the many excursions my college friends and I took into the mountains when we attended the University of Denver. There were also a number of visits to many other places: walks near my grandparents old home near Lake Travis, hikes onto dirt trails in parks, etc. I imagined myself beginning my day on a cool morning hiking among rocks and unkempt brush. Drinking this wine was a journey I felt compelled to take, one where I would relish every step I took.
Me hiking at Inks Lake State Park, May 2012

A Backwoods Journey

The morning, at first, is cool. The soft breeze rustles my clothes; I relax as the cool rests on my skin. I take a chance and begin my hike barefoot. The blue sky and light-yellow sun bake the rocks to a nice warm cushion. It feels good climbing the warming rocks. I look up and stop to appreciate the sky: it is clear, not a cloud to break up the nearly white pale blue.

Inks Lake State Park

As I travel, I can feel the warmth from the sun become stronger. The rocks are now more hot than warm, but not unbearable. The heat makes the rocks seem harder, stronger. The surface is drained of any moisture, and now I can feel every grain of dirt or silt as I step on it. I feel the particles slip between my toes. It is a feeling of contact, of being rooted into the world. I eagerly embrace it as my toes wriggle and writhe.

This morning quickly becomes a dry day; the cloudless blue sky matches the dry rocks beneath my feet. Before long, I have a nagging thirst. But it is quenched by a bush of berries, blackberries maybe. The berries are warm, barely ripe, and not so sweet yet. I pop one in my mouth and squish it down, letting the the little bit of juice each berry holds slowly dissolve on my tongue.

Refreshed, I start down the rock face into an area hidden by a curtain of scrub trees and bushes. The breeze turns into a soft, dry wind that rustles the brush, As I move past the barrier of trees, I am caressed by the leaves against my skin. The leaves are sun kissed, a soft warmth against my sweat cooled skin.
Balcones Canyonland National Wildlife Refuge near Lake Travis/Lago Vista, TX

Among the foliage, I disappear into a dappled enclave that, on first impression, seems as if it should be cool. I quickly realize that the close growths and the sun have warmed this spot too. I am not hot or uncomfortable; instead, I am cozy and comforted by the enveloping warmth. The growth about me seems almost like a blanket, fresh from the dryer. The morning cold is gone now; the heat works its away past my skin and through my straining muscles. I am relaxed by the soft, dry warmth spreading around me and through me.

I find myself slowing down, growing tired. I stop to watch some sap slowly moving down a tree trunk. It sticks to the leaves that happen to brush against the trunk. I want to stop moving too, to rest. I look for a soft bed of grass. I want to curl up. My body has grown heavy and soft; I feel sleep just behind my eyes. I am content, I am cozy. I am ready to nap and to dream.


  1. Love it! What a neat way to show off this wine! Gives it another element :)

  2. Thanks. I feel comfortable sharing my impression of wines this way and hope to keep it up.

  3. A lot of people miss the connection between nature and wine - it's nice to see a blogger who experiences the connection in a visceral way! Looking forward to reading more!

  4. Jaime,

    First, thanks for the comment.

    After reading Drops of God I began to really connect the two. An idea expressed in the comic is that wine comes from three components: Heaven, Earth, and man. The earth is so important to the wine. And as such a natural product, it will always have a connection. I cannot imagine it any other way anymore.

  5. Nice review. I look forward to trying it. Becker is our favorite Texas winery.