2019 Tempranillo, Lake County

Ibo Tejada is a sort of buddha – fun to be around. His deep roots in the culture of his native Spain inform his choices as a man of the Earth. It requires great attention to detail to grow grapes of this quality organically, and he is committed to fine-tuning his few acres nestled in a mountain glen. He employs no herbicides or pesticides, and his vines’ deep roots and the living soil he nurtures allow him to avoid irrigation. He is also a skilled contractor who built a 15-room ranch house for his crew. Naturally, he grows the grape of his native Rioja.

Everything about this wine shouts “I’m alive!” Color is brilliant, almost luminescent ruby. The nose presents intense spiced cherries and complex droughty mountain herbs: sage, rosemary and bay laurel, the signature “air-oir” of a place where nature thrives. The texture is wonderfully silky and elegant, with plump, medium￾bodied tannins and a vibrant mineral energy in the finish that testifies to the vineyard’s living soil.

This versatile wine is a fine companion to a wide variety of foods: ratatouille, grilled chicken, rustic cheeses. Check out my cooking show, Gracious Living in the Time of Corona, for tips on preparing paella.

We have been searching fruitlessly for a Tempranillo suitable for WineSmith, and we’re clearly here to stay.

Because of its extraordinary quality and organic practices, this wine was selected to appear in the 2021 Slow Wine Guide.