Tempranillo gained fame in the late 1800s when several of the famous Bordeaux Châteaus looked to
for grapes after the louse phylloxera had destroyed their vines. Tempranillo
takes well to both oak and bottle aging, and the better examples can be
extraordinarily long-lived. Tempranillo ripens early (temprano means “early” in
Spanish), has thick skins, and makes deeply-colored wines. It is highly
resistant to heat, growing best on hot, dry, south facing slopes away from
water (it is susceptible to rot)
In La Rioja, Tempranillo expresses itself differently from vineyards in high-elevation Alta, warmer and flatter Baja, and a small area on the other side of the Rio Ebro, Alavesa, where it is known for finesse. Winemakers are free to blend grapes from across these zones, and also have the freedom to blend in Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo grapes for balance. Barrel-aging is required and controlled by the local Consejo Regulador (Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva have progressively longer required barrel aging before release). Even at Crianza level, the wines are balanced, expressive, and supple, not at all like the often harsh, disjointed, high alcohol new releases from so many parts of the world. Many new wave producers in Ribera del Duero, on the other hand, are relying heavily on French and American oak barrels for richness and flavor.
Portugal it is known as Tinta Roriz, and is
commonly used in the blend for Port (it constitutes 12.1% of plantings in the ,
the second most prevalent vine). Further south in the Dão it is known as Tinta Aragonez. Tempranillo
is grown in the Languedoc-Roussillon in Douro Valley Southern France.
it is known as Tempranilla, where it still occupies the second largest area
planted to red wine-grape varieties. It excels in the Valle de Uco. It is also planted
where it sometimes goes under the name of Valdepeñas.
In general Tempranillo makes masculine wines with a firm tannic structure, often from lavish oak aging, especially in the Ribera del Duero. It has a characteristic strawberry flavor, along with cherry, olive, tobacco, cedar, and stewed meat notes.
Cune Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva, Rioja, (
Contino Reserva, Rioja (
Montecillo 130th Anniversary Limited Edition Gran Reserva, Rioja (
Montecillo Gran Reserva Seleccion Especial, Rioja (
Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva, Rioja (
Vega Sicilia Reserva Especial, Ribera del Duero (
Vega Sicilia Unico, Ribera del Duero (
Emilio Moro Malleolus, Ribera del Duero (
Mauro Terreus, Pago de Cueva Baja, Ribera del Duero (Spain)
Pingus, Ribera del Duero (
Fournier A Crux Blend, Valley de Uco-Mendoza (Argentina)
Bokisch Vineyards Tempranillo 2002,
© Copyright 2014 Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis, Planet Grape LLC. All Rights Reserved.