Abacela founder Earl Jones says proudly, "This is the wine we came to Oregon to make."
Last fall, the Umpqua Valley winemaker lifted the veil on his secret project -- Paramour -- a proprietary red blend from the 2005 vintage with the robust Spanish grape Tempranillo as the base.
Jones repeatedly, albeit playfully, declined to list the components of the blend. He said it was built in the Spanish tradition of Gran Reserva wines from the Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions of the Iberian Peninsula, which specifies such wines as being aged five years and the product of an excellent growing season.
Indeed, the 2005 vintage is viewed as one of the Northwest's best of the young century. The production was 170 cases, and the 2005 Paramour ($90) ranks as one of Oregon's most expensive wines not made of pinot noir.
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"My read on the wine is that it hasn't peaked," Jones said. "I'm estimating that will be around 2017, and it probably will sit on that plateau for 10 years."
Jones views Paramour as the culmination of efforts that began in 1995 when he became the first in the Northwest to plant Tempranillo. He uprooted his family from the Florida Panhandle and transitioned from a decorated career in clinical dermatology to create world-class tempranillo in the United States.
"Paramour translates as 'other love' or 'mistress,' " he said. "We've dedicated so much time and attention to this, it's a good way to describe it."
We recently blind-tasted the 2005 Paramour. To find Abacela wines, check with your favorite wine merchant or contact Abacela directly at 541-679-6642.
Abacela 2005 Paramour, Umpqua Valley, $90. This spent nearly two years in French oak and another four years in bottle before being released this fall. It opens with aromas of black cherries, black currants, blueberries, fresh figs, leather, cola and caramel. On the palate, it explodes with flavors of Marionberries, black currants and caramel. It presents power with robust tannins and earthy tones.
*Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman run Great Northwest Wine, a website that provides news and information about the wines of Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho.