Spotlight on Tempranillo

Written by
Vintage Cellars
February 16, 2017
Share Share to Instagram

The origin, the meaning behind the name and 6 top Tempranillo’s to try.

When you think of Spanish wine, you have to think of Tempranillo. Tempranillo is the red grape of Rioja and Ribera del Duero, the most loved and most regal of the Spanish grapes. Before we get to the good stuff, that is, the bottles you must try, let us give you a brief background.

The lands of Rioja and Ribera del Duero are situated in Spain’s north, and here the mighty Tempranillo grape is king. It takes its name from the word ‘temprano’ which means early, and appropriately so as Tempranillo is an early ripening grape variety. Although these grapes make beautiful wine on their own, they are often blended with Grenache, or ‘Garnacha’ as it is called in Spain. Tempranillo makes intense, elegant wines with firm tannins which encourages ageing for a decade, or perhaps longer.

In Spain, it’s not uncommon for wines to be named according to how long they have aged. Traditionally, the name Joven was given to young wines with no oak ageing; they are fresh and fruity and designed for consumption in their youth. Crianza is the next tier, aged for roughly two years from the date of vintage, with a minimum of six months to a year in oak. Lastly there are Riserva and Gran Riserva wines. Riserva wines are those that are no less than three years old before release, with up to 24 months in oak and Gran Riserva, which is only made in exceptional vintages, must be five years old on release from the date of vintage.

Now that you know a little more about this spectacular Spanish drop, let us tempt you with some top Tempranillo to try at home.

Spanish Tempranillo

Glorioso Crianza Rioja

This wine boasts intense aromas of dark and red fruits like blackcurrants and raspberries with a touch of vanilla from the French oak barrels used. It is full, long and complex with an elegant balance and a fruit-packed finish.

Cosme Palacio Rioja

This wine is juicy and medium-bodied with fine tannins. Black fruits dominate the flavour profile with some delicate cedar and earthy notes adding complexity to a delicious example from this loved region.

Marques de Caceres Rioja Tinto Crianza

Carefully picked parcels of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano grapes have been combined to produce this intense and complex wine. It displays berry flavours and notes of raspberries and cherries along with spicy aromas.

Australian Tempranillo

As the love for all things Mediterranean spreads throughout the world, so too does the desire for winemakers away from the shores of Spain to try their hand at making wine from this incredible grape. Here are some standout examples from home soil.

La Linea Tempranillo

One of the flagship Tempranillo’s in Australia, made by Peter Leske and David LeMire in the Adelaide Hills. The La Linea Tempranillo puts the very soul of this varietal on display with fresh acidity, dark complex fruit expression and beautiful tannins.

Running with Bulls Tempranillo

Made by the clever folk at Yalumba this is a gorgeous, bright and effortless Tempranillo expressing many red and black fruits and plenty of spice.

S.C. Pannell Tempranillo Touriga

Is there anything Steve Pannell cannot do? Pannell has secured many awards and accolades in recent years, including Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year 2015 and the prestigious Jimmy Watson trophy. This Tempranillo is classic Pannell, bright and approachable, soft and giving.

What’s for lunch?

With a glass of Tempranillo in hand, you would be best placed to accompany it with some Spanish inspired cuisine. Start with roasted and stuffed capsicum filled with onions, rice and chorizo and have some jamon, white anchovies and manchego cheese to nibble on. If you have time, make a batch of hearty homemade paella, scented with onions, garlic, paprika and pork. If Spanish food isn’t your thing, Tempranillo will also work well with roast beef or a comforting plate of sausages and mash.

There’s no better time to try something new. It’s predicted that the wines of Spain such as Tempranillo, well suited to arid climates, will be the first of the new wave that succeed in Australia. This physiological trait that will endear them to growers, coupled with the fruit-forward nature of their vinous expression will soon make them household names at barbecues and family dinners across the country. Watch this space.