Thornton 2017 Tempranillo

Thornton 2017 Tempranillo

Winery/Vineyard: Thornton Winery
Product/Varietal: 100% Tempranillo
Vintage: 2017
AVA on Bottle: Temecula Valley
Winemaker: David Vergari, Tom Stolzer

Rating: 91

2015 vintage: Gold medal & 92 points at 2019 Los Angeles International Wine Competition.
3.7 out of 5 stars on Vivino (all vintages).

How They Describe It

Most often associated with Spain, Tempranillo is ideally suited for growing in the Temecula Valley. Ours has aromas of strawberries, cherries and tobacco. When you drink this wine, the cherry flavors really comes through along with some earthy notes. We used neutral, previously filled barrels to age the wine. Enjoy!

How I Describe It

The Thornton 2017 Tempranillo shows as medium ruby. For context, that’s very similar to many Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

On the nose, the Thornton 2017 Tempranillo teems with smoke, blackberry, and raspberry. Layering underneath are lavender, vanilla, cloves, and charcoal. Meanwhile, there are detectable undertones of white pepper, brioche, and ripe strawberry.

Smoke and blackberry come across most prominently on the palate from the 2017 Tempranillo. Only slightly more subdued are a blend of red berries, like strawberry, red cherry, and raspberry. Aging and fermentation manifest with bread dough, vanilla, nutmeg, and toasted wood. White pepper and rose water reveal floral and spice notes on the finish.

The Thornton 2017 Tempranillo is dry with medium alcohol (13.7% ABV). Medium acid and medium tannins result in a overall medium body. Flavor intensity and finish, though, are a bit more robust, at medium-plus.

Why is This Wine Special?

The Thornton 2017 Tempranillo is one of the last vintages to be produced by the winery’s outgoing winemaker, David Vergari. If you’re a wine geek, like me, it will be fun to compare this vintage with those of his successor, Tom Stolzer (whose 2019 Vermentino we reviewed earlier).

Classically educated at UC Davis, and trained at wineries spanning three continents, Vergari’s winemaking style attempts to harness traditional Old World characteristics in his wines.

What does Old World versus New World styles mean?

Have you ever tasted a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley in France? And how about a Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough appellation in New Zealand? The aromas and flavors tend to be very different. The former tends to be heavier in lime and green apple, where the latter showcases white peach and guava. Moreover, Loire Valley Sauvignon Blancs tend to taste more “delicate”, having lighter body, paler color, and often a bit less alcohol. On the other hand, New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs taste “brighter”, and the slightly elevated alcohol adds viscosity to the wine’s body.

The same principle applies to many red wines. While New World versions feature more powerful fruit flavors and chewier mouthfeels, traditional Old World versions of the same varietal are often lighter bodied and emphasize more delicate, nuanced characteristics, like floral and herbal, which can sometimes be muted in New World climates. The process of preserving those Old World aspects, particularly in the warm Temecula terroir, requires incredible skill and deep understanding down to grapes’ molecular levels.

To that end, Vergari did a superb job. In the 2017 Tempranillo, he succeeded in harnessing the Tempranillo grape’s more delicate flavors, while still honoring what makes the Temecula Valley AVA’s terroir so special.

When & How I Would Drink It

If you own a smoker, and enjoy a glass of wine with your smoked meats, you should have at least a couple bottles of Tempranillo on hand. The natural smokiness from the varietal blends perfectly, so that neither food nor beverage overpowers the other.

A nice feature of the Thornton 2017 Tempranillo is its medium body. As a result, the wine is well-suited for pairing with somewhat lighter fare, like smoked or aged cheeses, as well as cured meats. So, if you prefer red wine with your Sunday brunch charcuterie board, the 2017 Tempranillo is an outstanding way to go.

How to Get It

Order Online:

Bottle Price: $41.00

Cases Produced: ~300 cases


Have you tried the Thornton 2017 Tempranillo? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.

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