Getting to Know
Tempranillo (tem-pra-nee-yo) is a red wine grape coming from northern Spain’s Rioja and Navarra wine regions.
A vigorous grape, it requires a great deal of work in the vineyards to manage quality. With vines the world over, Tempranillo wine varies in style from juicy younger expressions to serious, structured fine oak-aged wines.
Dominant flavors include red and dark fruits of cherry and plum mixed with earthy, herbal, leather, and tobacco leaves.
The taste profile of Tempranillo varies greatly on the winemaking style, but there are characteristics that continually shine through. Wines from the Tempranillo grape tend toward medium- to full in body with moderate to high tannin and moderate acidity.
Oak aging is common with traditional winemaking styles typically utilizing American oak. Today, more modern styles are adopting the use of French oak. The oak aging adds vanilla and cocoa powder flavors.
While the Tempranillo grape does not naturally have high levels of acidity, regions with high diurnal temperature variations (high / low day to night temp fluctuations affecting ripening patterns) support sugar and color pigment development in the day while the cooler night temps preserve acidity, making the most of the grape’s natural characteristics. That said, high altitude creates ideal temperature variations yielding bright, lively, and fruity wine with a perfect balance of warmth and zest.
WHERE TO FIND THE Tempranillo Grape
The bulk of the world’s Tempranillo grapes are grown in Spain (with 80 percent of all Tempranillo vineyards) as well as Portugal (best loved in port wine) and Australia. In addition, this vigorous grape is showing up in different parts of the world in warm, sun-drenched climates.
The vines do best in high elevation regions like in burgeoning Mexican wine regions including Central Mexico and Baja. In the USA, find Tempranillo in New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Walla Walla, southern Oregon, and more.
Other names to look for when exploring Tempranillo wine:
When is the Right Mood for Tempranillo Wine?
HOW TO ENJOY Tempranillo WINE
Tempranillo food pairing
Enjoy Tempranillo wine with roast lamb, pork tenderloin, bbq, mexican food.
Practical Tips for Tempranillo Wine
Glassware: Try Syrah glasses. Shaped a bit taller than Cab glasses with a mild taper at the top, the glass was crafted to put emphasis on the fruit while allowing tannins to soften through air contact.
Shelf life: Five to 10 years.
Bottle prices: For a younger Tempranillo wine, expect to spend about $10-$20. For an aged bottle, $25-$35.