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I have a particular love affair taking place with Tempranillo at the moment. Okay, so maybe I actually have a love affair taking place with many food and wine
lovelies right now, but will get to those later on.

I was first struck by Cupid’s arrow when I tasted the Tempranillo from Famila Gascon, 2008. Now that was love at first taste. Tempranillo’s are usually lighter, not heavy in body and easy to drink. This one
however was different. It was
fuller bodied, spicy and full of personality. It seduced me completely and initiated a curiosity about how
the varietal expresses itself here in Argentina.

When I arrived at the winery O’Fournier and tasted their young Tempranillo I was intrigued once again. Here was another Tempranillo full of spice, particularly cassis which I love.
So I decided to experiment, surely there was a way to pair these which

Normally Tempranillo is not a wine that you would think to pair with the chocolate because it is lighter bodied. The go to wines are usually cabernets or amarones, that have either lots of body and spice or lots of mature fruit. However I am convinced that any wine
can be paired with chocolate, you just need to find the right chocolate and

So could this Tempranillo hold up to chocolate? I was about to find out. I began rummaging in my
little wine fridge, that doesn’t have a stitch of wine but instead is filled to
the gills with 15 kilos of chocolate.
And yes, I do keep it stashed away in my bedroom.

I pulled out a range of chocolates, from 62% to 88%, different beans and different countries as well as the O’Fournier Urban Eco Tempranillo 2008. This was a good starting point at least and I am happy to
say we came up with some fascinating conclusions:

88% dark chocolate from the Amazonia region in Ecuador: Here the wine brings out citrus notes in the chocolate, and the bitterness of the chocolate actually brings the acidity of the wine down, balancing it out. There were still some
slightly astringent notes, but they were pleasant and created a harmony with
the citrus notes coming out. This combination was fresh and clean particularly on
the finish.

80% dark chocolate from the Carenero region in Venezuela: This is an interesting match. The wine brings out all the earthiness
in the chocolate that is not apparent when eating the chocolate by itself. It is a rich earthiness, reminiscent of
a forest. The wine remains the
same, the chocolate neither enhances it or makes it worse. However, with the addition of a bit of
basil to the combination a transformation occurs. The fruit in both the wine and the chocolate come out, and
the wine balances out, the acidity goes down and there is no bitterness. Now add some quince and pear juice to
the mix. It goes up one more
notch. Both the chocolate and the
wine have completely harmonized in the mouth, all the fruits in both explode
and it leaves you with a lovely fruity finish. It makes the wine better (not that it wasn’t great to start

72% dark chocolate from Moxos, Bolivia: this is also an interesting combination as the wine enhances the chocolate, bringing out all it’s lovely flavours of cinnamon and the hidden fruit. However the wine
remains somewhat flat. It is
giving itself up in this relationship, compromising it’s personality to allow
the other to shine.

62% semi-sweet chocolate from the Rio Arriba region in Ecuador: With this one the wine remained completely flat however the chocolate really shined, bringing
out all of the cinnamon and spicy notes in it. But it was a complete one-sided relationship, the wine in
this case losing itself completely.

It was an interesting tasting because we realized that the more bittersweet chocolates that had many citrus notes were pairing better than ones with a lower cacao percentage and more spice. Not something I think most people would
expect, but a lovely surprise. I
was quite excited about the 88% and the 80% pairings and I believe I can create
some interesting combinations with these.
You can count on that one as part two…..

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Tags: Awaken, Chocolate, Escorihuela, Gascon, Mendoza, O'Fournier, Senses, Tasting, Your


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Comment by Dusty Thomas on May 19, 2010 at 1:21am
I just came back from Hawaii. While shopping I saw this and nearly fell over...
Comment by Chrissie Bettencourt on April 29, 2010 at 10:45pm
Hi Dusty, Yes, I agree, there are some fantastic tempranillos coming out of Argentina and some wineries here consider it one of the up and coming varietals to follow the malbec. I certainly think so :) As for the sauce, I have already tried a chocolate malbec sauce with beef with great success, however I think the Tempranillo would be interesting and add a different element to it. The chocolate would bring some of the dryness down and more of the citrus out. As well as the spice. I will have to try it out. Let me know if you experiment!
Comment by Dusty Thomas on April 29, 2010 at 10:31pm
I can certainly understand a affair with Tempranillo, we've often flirted, but it never erupted into and out and out affair. It'd be difficult to interject into my current affair with Pinot anyway.

Curious though- are you using Argentine Tempranillo or Spanish?

Well I just clicked on the link and answered my own question(should have done that first) I asked because it's my opinion that Argentina is making some of the very best Tempranillo right now.

And as a side note- the whole South American thing really rings true here. Wonder if there's another way to combine these two great products? What would Tempranillo Chocolate wine sauce be like?

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