1. Headline
  1. Headline
Edward Deitch
By Wine columnist
updated 2/13/2008 10:00:24 PM ET 2008-02-14T03:00:24

Tempranillo, which is Spain’s signature red grape, is best known in such regions as Rioja and Ribera del Duero, but is also grown and made into excellent wines in other areas, as this week’s superb value demonstrates. This exciting and inexpensive wine from La Mancha also gives us a great opportunity to decipher the often-tricky language of the label. But first a little background.

With wines from Spain, perhaps more than any other region, you can walk into a large retailer and have no trouble walking out with a dozen potentially excellent bottles to explore for under $15 each. In fact, many of them can be under $10 if you choose, both reds and whites. You’re bound to find at least a few standouts, as I did not long ago.

And that’s the bigger point. Learning about and appreciating wine, as I discovered early on, is all about variety — trying many wines and finding the ones that appeal to you. And so it was with the 2005 Ercavio Tempranillo Roble from Más Que Vinos.

Now, just what is this delicious wine that I bought for around $8? In this case we’re  helped to some extent by the label, which discloses that the wine is, in fact, a tempranillo. As for the other words on the label, a little translating is in order. “Roble” means oak in Spanish, and tells us that the wine has spent a relatively short period — five months for this one — maturing in oak barrels. (Crianza, reserva and gran reserva are other terms that refer to increasingly longer periods of aging.) Más Que Vinos is the name of the company and just under that, in the smallest type, we see “Mesa de Ocaña,” which tells us where the wine comes from.

Mesa de Ocaña is a plateau in the Castilla-La Mancha area of central Spain south of Madrid, and the grapes are grown in the town of Toledo.  Just about every wine reference to La Mancha these days makes the point that this very large, arid region is developing a reputation for quality and value as well as quantity, with the tempranillo grape emerging as its star.

And with the Ervacio tempranillo it’s easy to see why. The wine has enticing dark-berry aromas and tastes, mainly blackberry with a touch of blueberry, as well as intriguing earth and spice notes. I thought I detected cardamom and other Indian spices that, in combination with the ripe fruit and good tannic structure, add up to a wine of surprising depth and complexity.  Remember, we’re talking $8 or so here!

This is a highly versatile wine to enjoy with all kinds of meat and vegetarian dishes and shows us again why Spain offers some of the best wine values. I bought it at PJ Wine in New York. The importer is European Cellars of Charlotte, N.C.

Edward Deitch is the recipient of the 2007 James Beard Foundation Journalism Award for Best Multimedia Writing. He welcomes comments from readers. Write to him at edwarddeitch@hotmail.com

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints


Discussion comments


More on TODAY.com

  1. TODAY

    video Keir Simmons reports: Conspiracy theories grow around MH17

    7/23/2014 11:28:28 AM +00:00 2014-07-23T11:28:28
  1. GPS monitoring fail: Some felons continue to prey despite bracelets

    When high-risk criminals leave prison, many must wear ankle bracelets with GPS monitoring. But an NBC News investigation uncovered cases of parole officers asleep at the switch, allowing violent offenders to strike again. Jeff Rossen reports.

    7/23/2014 12:06:07 PM +00:00 2014-07-23T12:06:07
  1. Why 7 hours of sleep a night may be better than 8

    For years, we’ve heard that we need a solid eight hours of sleep. And, for years, we’ve heard that we’re terrible at getting it. Well, what we’ve heard might be wrong.

    7/23/2014 11:34:13 AM +00:00 2014-07-23T11:34:13
  2. How much sleep do you get? Take our survey
  1. Jenna Bush Hager: 5 things I've learned from my Gampy

    My grandfather has really always astonished me. On this milestone — his 90th birthday — I thought about how much I have learned from him.

    7/23/2014 10:43:31 AM +00:00 2014-07-23T10:43:31
  2. video George H.W. Bush talks to TODAY about turning 90

    video Check out the extended, full-length interview that President George H.W. Bush gave to his granddaughter, TODAY correspondent Jenna Bush Hager, around his 90th birthday parachute jump.

    7/3/2014 8:13:54 PM +00:00 2014-07-03T20:13:54
  3. video Barbara Bush to son: Your dad was the best president

    video TODAY correspondent Jenna Bush Hager talks with her grandmother, first lady Barbara Bush, and her father, President George W. Bush, about their picks for history’s best president and first lady.

    7/22/2014 8:17:09 PM +00:00 2014-07-22T20:17:09
  4. Courtesy of Jenna Bush Hager