The Facts On Tempranillo Wines
The Spanish translation for tempranillo means “little early one.” This name was adopted by Spanish winemakers after observing how this specific grape ripened earlier than grenache - its traditional partner in blending. Let’s see what it is about this wine that makes it so loved.
Before we delve into the structure of this vino and how you should enjoy it, here are some of the most notable facts about this grape.
- For starters, it’s the most popular grape of Spain’s Rioja region, which is where it enjoys a household name status
- Its vines are quite easy to spot because of their snaggy, deep-lobed leaves
- If you’re a total sucker for a foliage scenery in the fall, then perhaps you’ll need to visit Spain when Tempranillo’s leaves turn bright red in autumn - it’s truly a sight to behold
- A very rare and minuscule white mutation of this wine is out there and it's called Tempranillo Blanco. It’s noted to have a fresh, tropical fruit flavor.
The Regions Of Tempranillo
In Spain, tempranillo remains the country’s top red varietal. However, it can be sourced under many different names depending on the region where the grape was grown. When trying out this varietal for the first time, a rioja will be your best option.
- Rioja & Navarra: These are the regions where this vino is produced as a peppery red wine. It’s structured with red cherry and very subtle cinnamon notes
- Ribera del Duero, Toro & Cigales: The varietal grown here is usually deeper and darker in color. The flavor profile is a lot more intense with blackberry and gripping tannins
- La Mancha & Ribera De Guadiana: These regions are notably larger, spanning across Spain’s central plateau. This results in a larger production amount and rate. From these regions, wines are of the best value in all of Spain
When sourcing this Spanish vino, look out for aging terms such as Crianza, roble/Tinto, reserva, and gran reserva. The most important aspect to consider when aging this red is that the longer it sits in oak, the higher quality it’ll be. Therefore, expect to pay accordingly.
Interesting Facts About Tempranillo
Tempranillo is known as an old variety and the earliest traces of it dates back as far as 1807. What else is there that makes this vino so fascinating?
- It’s also said that this varietal was perhaps introduced to the Iberian Peninsula over 3,000 years ago by the Phoenicians
- This is a variety that’s considered to be one of the nine red noble grapes. It’s globally the fourth-most planted variety
- In Portugal, the variety is blended into tinta roriz - a delectable port known for its exquisite flavor profile.
- You’ll almost always be able to age this red. It’ll get better in taste as it grows older. Aging also gives this vino a very distinct flavor that can only be described as uniquely Spanish.
Tempranillo & Food
Most commonly a Tempranillo will showcase flavors like cedar, tobacco, dill, cherries, and berries. As the wine ages, the flavors are impacted significantly - and for the better. Reserva and Gran Reserva deliver richer fruit notes, dry leaves, and those wonderful leather flavors that are the Spanish wine’s trademark.
This varietal pairs perfectly with red meat and ham. However, it's rather versatile so don’t be afraid to serve it with roasted vegetables, starch, hearty pasta dishes, and Mexican cuisine.