Our eye was caught by the 2008 Ergo Tempranillo on a local supermarket shelf when we noticed that the producer is Spain's Bodegas Mártin Códax, which also produces one of our favorite Spanish whites, an albarino that really sings with seafood. The tempranillo is available at big box stores, too, and generally goes for $11 to $12.
This tempranillo is a playful, big-boned red that hails from Spain's celebrated Rioja region. Its nose is warm spice and a little clove. Spice is to the fore on the tongue as well, but is joined by assertive bitter chocolate and juicy black cherry. Well-formed and balanced tannins carry throughout the flavor profile, with a gentle jolt of orange zest at mid-palate. The finish is round and lingering.
When it comes to food pairings, the small plates for sharing known as tapas popped immediately to mind. Especially good with this wine will be the spicy Mediterranean sausage called merguez, grilled and served with patatas bravas, a potato dish redolent of paprika and jazzed up with tomatoes. This tempranillo also would go beautifully with grilled organ meats.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.