Wine Tour of the World: Tempranillo

This week we are looking at the Spanish wine: Tempranillo

Spain’s top red wine: Tempranillo is typically labelled by it’s regional name: in La Rioja it is called Rioja (pronounced ree-ocka), in the La Mancha area: Ribera del Duero, Cigales and Toro, and the in Extremadura region it is called Ribera del Guadiana. The grape is also grown in Portugla, Argentian, France and in smaller amounts in Australia.

Tempranillo is the fourth-most planted variety in the world and is considered one of the nine red noble grapes, along with Pinot Noir, Grenache, Merlot, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Malbec.
Tempranillo is also one of the top varieties blended into Port wine from Portugal, where it’s called Tinta Roriz.

In searching for this wine, you’ll likely come across the following terms: Roble/Tinto, Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva. These are aging terms, ranging from little to no oak all the way up to 18-24 months with an additional four years of bottle aging. Broadly speaking, the more oak, the better the quality, and the more you should expect to pay accordingly.

In the cooler regions of Spain the flavours range from sour cherry and strawberry whilst the warmer vintages produce flavours of dried blackberry and raisin.Dominant flavours can include cherry, dried fig, cedar, tobacco, and dill. Age impacts the flavors of Tempranillo significantly, with Roble and Crianza examples imparting juicy fruit flavors and heat. Reserva and Gran Reserva examples feature deeper, darker fruit notes, dry leaves, and Tempranillo’s signature leather flavours.

It’s profile is low in fruit, big bodied and high tannins making it a wonderful accompaniment to rich and fatty foods. It generally has high acidity and high alcohol levels.

Food Pairing:
While famed for pairing with red meat and ham, Tempranillo is a surprisingly versatile food wine that match well with roasted vegetables, smoke, starch, hearty pastas, and even Mexican food.