Oregon winery’s Paramour built on Spanish tradition of reserve Tempranillos

  • By Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman Wine Press Northwest
  • Tuesday, January 10, 2012 10:40am
  • LifeHops and Sips

Abacela founder Earl Jones says proudly, “This is the wine we came to Oregon to make.”

In October, 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.

“American Tempranillo will change forever” is how the Roseburg winery promoted the invitation-only evening.

Jones repeatedly, although good-naturedly, 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 from Pinot Noir grapes.

“I hadn’t even thought about that,” Jones said. “I know the economy is down, but I think it’s priced fairly.”

This year, Abacela released about 2,500 cases of robust Tempranillo among its three tiers — regular ($20), estate ($35) and reserve ($45).

The 2005 Paramour spans winemakers past and present, Kiley Evans and Andrew Wenzl, respectively. And yet Jones, director of the Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society (TAPAS), takes full credit for this unique Temp.

“This was my project,” he said. “I’ve kept it close to my chest. It was tough keeping those six barrels a secret, though.”

Ironically, the public got its first glimpse of Paramour two years ago when Jones donated three large-format bottles of it to the 25th annual Classic Wine Auction in Portland. The gift of the 2005 Paramour came as he celebrated being named the 2009 Oregon Vintner of the Year.

“The 2005 vintage was a great one here at Abacela, and 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 set 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.”

Those who miss out on this Paramour must wait a while for the next vintage. Jones doesn’t expect to release the next one — the 2009 Paramour — until 2015.

We recently blind-tasted the 2005 Paramour, as well as Abacela’s 2007 Reserve Tempranillo. 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’s a big wine with robust tannins and earthy tones.

Abacela 2007 Reserve Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley, $45. As of this fall, Abacela now produces no fewer than three different bottlings of Tempranillo (and the grape finds its way into some of the winery’s other wines). This superb reserve-level red opens with intriguing aromas of purple fruit, late, orange pekoe tea, lemon zest, plums and chalk dust. On the palate, it shows off flavors of caramel, plums, cinnamon and something that reminds us of a grape lollipop.

Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman are the editors of Wine Press Northwest magazine. For the freshest reviews, go to www.winepressnw.com/freshpress.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Life

Animal Chaplain Shel Graves has her dog Lily pose for a photo in her home office on Tuesday, July 9, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Is your dog or cat grieving? There’s an animal chaplain for that

Chaplains offer spiritual care for beings of all species: “Absolutely, animals do feel grief and loss.”

Performers joust during the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire at Sky Meadows Park in Snohomish, Washington, on Sunday, Aug. 06, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Royalty and revelry: The spirit of the Renaissance comes to Monroe

The annual Renaissance fair will open its doors every weekend from July 20 to Aug. 18

Trees and foliage grow at the Rockport State Park on Wednesday, April 3, 2024 in Rockport, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
When you get lost in WA, what’s the cost to get rescued? Surprisingly little

Washington’s volunteer search and rescue teams save lives without costly bills.

A booking error leads to a nonrefundable hotel room, or does it?

Glen Hartness books the wrong night at La Quinta through the Priceline app. Why won’t Priceline refund the booking?

Mona Newbauer, 62, pours caramel into a machine inside her store Sweet Mona's Chocolates on March 21, 2024 in Langley, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Sweet Mona’s Chocolates in Langley stirs up treats for all tastes

Chocolate slugs, whales, truffles and caramels are among sweets in the shop Mona Newbauer founded in 2006.

Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

What do Patti Labelle, John Legend, Mudhoney, Dwight Yoakam have in common? They’re all performing locally this weekend.

Crape Myrtle
Hardiness, hotter summers helping colorful crape myrtles find homes here

Many are hardy enough, but we were never hot enough. In recent summers, however, I’ve seen them blooming in local gardens.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for … glace? Well, in France, yes.

This ice cream vendor toy, which sold for $1,800 at auction, reminds us of France’s role in popularizing the summer treat.

Lily of the Scheherazade variety with red-white flowers from the Oriental-Tubular (OT) hybrids group. Decorative plant in the garden
Great Plant Pick: Scheherazade Orienpet Lily

What: Once mature, this giant lily makes a stunning presence in the… Continue reading

2024 Infiniti QX50 Autograph (Photo provided by Infiniti)
Infiniti QX50 Autograph

The 2024 Infiniti QX50 Autograph AWD crossover delivers top-notch luxury, tailored design,… Continue reading

The five-passenger 2024 Mazda CX-5 compact SUV comes standard with all-wheel drive. (Photo provided by Mazda)
2024 Mazda CX-5 proves function can be fun

The compact SUV is practical and sporty at the same time.

2024 Mercedes E 350 4MATIC sedan (Photo provided by Mercedes)
2024 Mercedes E 350 4MATIC sedan

In this time of rapid change in the automotive industry, it’s nice… Continue reading

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.