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Tempra Tantrum Tempranillo/Shiraz, 2009, Spain

Tempra Tantrun Tempranillo/Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009, Spain

Cost: $10/$12

W hen we got the Carolina/Georgia ski team together for a little fun and fellowship at my lake house last weekend, we decided to do it up right. We roasted a pig. I knew we couldn’t have just any old wimpy wine with pork roasted over an open grill, so I hunted around until I found these two. And they held up great to the smoky, spicy taste of the pork.

Some of the pulled pork with the Tempra Tantrum.

These wines are great examples of the fun, exciting things Spanish winemakers are doing. Spain has long made outstanding wine, but the current generation of winemakers has experimented with grape combinations and techniques to produce fun flavors at good prices. The Tempra Tantrum wines have vibrant fruity flavors that go well with food.

Waiting for the pig to cook
Waiting for the pig to cook

 

The Tempranillo/Shiraz showed cherry and dark chocolate flavors with a hint of spice that came from the Shiraz. The Tempranillo added earthy blackberry and plum notes. The Cabernet blend mixed bright raspberry and cherry flavors with the Tempranillo flavors. Both wines are lively, refreshing drinks that go well with many foods. They’re meant to be drunk young, not aged.

The grapes are grown in the valley of Tierra de Castilla, about an hour from Madrid and outside the boundaries of the controlling denominacion de origen (DO) system. That system ensures quality through a series of rules and practices. While it does produce quality, the system limits the creativity of modern winemakers.

So some in the Spanish wine business, including sixth generation vintner Rocio Osborne at Tempra Tantrum, have gone outside the DO system to experiment with techniques and grape combinations. The Tempra Tantrum experiments are clear winners.

The blends are 60 percent Tempranillo and 40 per cent Shiraz or Cabernet. They also make blends with Merlot and Grenache.

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Winery: Tempra Tantrum is the Osborne Group’s latest label. The Osborne Group has been crafting fine sherry, brandy, wine and liqueur since 1772. Rocio calls herself “a passionate, intuitive, modern woman with an unwavering devotion to her family’s wine business.”

She has studied and worked in the wine business around the world.

Goes with: The Cabernet blend goes well with grilled steaks, chili, smoked gouda and other hard cheeses. The Shiraz blend goes well with ribs, lasagna, burgers and tapas. We tried both at the pig pickin’, and they were outstanding. The pig cooked all day on an outdoor grill, basted with a spicy vinegar blend. The tart fruitiness cut through the spices and grease of the pork. Our group tried several wines with the grilled pork, but these two were the best match.

The pig pickin’: The group was the people I go skiing with every year and their spouses. Most of them live in Lexington, S.C. They’re mostly middle-aged men and good-looking women with a fine sense of humor.

When we ski, we ski all day, eat a good home-cooked meal, drink wine and collapse into sleep. We repeat that for six days and then head home.

When I joined the group we drove out to Breckinridge, Colorado, in Charlie’s motorhome. It’s a two-day trip, so we had plenty of time to tell each other stories. Everyone takes turns driving on a schedule set up by our master planner, Charlie, so there is a strict no-drinking rule on the drive out and back.

Charlie, Steve, David, Dorothy and Claire
Charlie, Steve, David, Dorothy and Claire

Charlie’s wife, Nancy, would prepare many of the meals and freeze them. Some meals we would cook ourselves, all according to a careful plan laid out by Charlie. There’s something comforting about being able to look at the big printed schedule and tell what you’re going to have to eat every night, who’s cooking and who’s cleaning up.

After two breakdowns on the road in two years Charlie retired the motorhome and we flew to Salt Lake this year. We couldn’t bring our food with us, so different people took turns cooking each night. No menu; we just decided what we would cook and then got the group’s approval.

Oh, and the wine. I would bring a mixed case from my cellar with us each year, and we’d have it with dinner, and usually have a special tasting one night. It was easy to pack in the motorhome, but with the switch to Utah, I had to ship it out there and it was waiting for us when we arrived.

My wife never worried about me getting in trouble with all these guys because the person who asked me to join the group was my pastor. How much trouble can you get into when your pastor’s around? Later, as she got to know these men and their wives and children, she knew how lucky I was to get to know all of them. So we all try to get together once in a while outside of the ski trip.

Charlie, Nancy and Richard came down to the lake on Friday to help me make preparations. Charlie and Richard got up early to help me get the pig on the grill, and they said they wanted to learn how to do it. What they didn’t know was this was the first time I had cooked a pig by myself.

Richard, Nancy, Tulay and Ismail

 

I have helped my friend Clint Bryant roast a pig a few times, but never done it on my own. Besides being a great coach, athletic director and all-around great human being, Clint is a fantastic cook, and not just with the barbecue grill. Clint has a large grate that we would put over cement blocks. Then another row of blocks on top holds up a piece of plywood to form the oven. One time we couldn’t find his grill so we used some wire fencing from my garden.

I figured Clint would get tired of me borrowing his grill so I went to a welder on East Boundary, and he made me a beautiful 3-foot by 5-foot steel grate. Charlie and Richard helped me put the blocks in place so we could be ready early the next morning. Then we sat back and drank us some wine. Did I mention these guys like good red wine? If I can find my photos from our ski trip this year, I’ll post the wine tasting we had one night. It was a great night.

We had a Beaulieu Vineyards Tapestry Reserve 2007, a Westside Red Troublemaker and a Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2000. We had a lot of planning and talking to do so we managed to finish all three bottles. Each wine was great. The next day, in addition to the Tempra Tantrum wines we had Zahtila Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, Foust Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, and Corda Reserve 1997, a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Like I said, these guys like good red wine.

The next morning I was up at 4:30 to start the coals. Richard walked into the kitchen where I was making coffee and said, “OK, I’m ready for my driving shift.” I guess he thought we were in the motor home.

After the coals got started we lifted up the 70-pound half pig and plopped it on the grill. I got it from Lanier’s, and they split it right down the middle, from snout to tail. We kept basting it and adding coals. It’s a tricky balance; you don’t want the fire to get too hot, and you don’t want it to go out entirely.

Dot took this nice photo of Dennis and Charlie flipping the pig
Dot took this nice photo of Dennis and Charlie flipping the pig

We tried to keep it around 250 degrees, measured by a grill thermometer stuck in a hole in the plywood oven roof. After several hours of cooking we had to watch for flames licking through the top of the oven because grease would drop onto the coals and catch fire. We started the pig meat side down, and when we flipped it to skin side down, more grease kept dropping, so the fire patrol had to be active.

As the rest of the crew began arriving, they helped us watch for flames. When we saw flames, someone would run with the bucket of water, lift off the plywood and try to get water on the part that was flaming without putting out the coals. I started to get worried that we would burn the meat, but all the flames did was sear the exterior, keeping the inside nice and moist.

As I was writing this Richard emailed me a suggestion to avoid the embarrassment of the flames trying to burn the top off my oven. (He still hasn’t figured out that I have a very high threshold for embarrassment.) Richard wrote: “In order to put the ‘best light’ on your review of the Tempranillo-Shiraz, and in order to incorporate the fact that the plywood oven cover caught on fire during the cooking process, you need to describe the pig as ‘Flame Topped Barbequed Pork.’ That’ll impress ’em!”

I think the meat was done after about 8 hours, but we left it on another three hours at extremely low heat until everyone got hungry enough to eat. (And after the football games ended. The Carolina fans were thrilled with their defeat of No. 1 Alabama, but all the Clemson fans in the group had sad faces after they lost to North Carolina.) The meatI turned out to be really tasty, but when you have good friends around, the food tastes a little better anyway.

We ate great all weekend. Nancy brought beef stew for Friday night, and it was delicious. Dot brought homemade chicken pot pie for Saturday lunch, and it was fantastic. Everyone brought side dishes and beer and soft drinks. We had things like Turkish baklava, grape salad, coleslaw, baked apples, a corn and rice dish and deviled eggs. And lots of pies and other desserts.

Another beautiful sunset on Clarks Hill Lake
Another beautiful sunset on Clarks Hill Lake

As we finished the day we sat around eating and talking and watching the sun go down over the water. Finally, everyone decided they had to head for home. I was glad I could sit there quietly, sipping wine and listening to the symphony of frogs along the shore. Life definitely is good.

I hope we can do this again soon.

 

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