One of the nine red noble grapes, Tempranillo is the fourth-most planted varietal in the world. The cornerstone of Spanish wines, Tempranillo translates to “little early one,” a reflection of the fact that it ripens earlier than other grapes. With notes of cherry, dried fig, cedar, tobacco, and dill it’s easy to see why people love Tempranillo. A versatile wine, aged Tempranillo pairs amazingly with steak, gourmet burgers, and lamb dishes, while younger Tempranillo goes incredibly well with baked ziti and Mexican dishes.
With more than half of Rioja’s hectares dedicated to Tempranillo, it makes sense why Rioja and Tempranillo are pretty much synonymous to each other. Tempranillo is the major varietal in Rioja blends, occasionally alongside Garnacha, Carignan, and Graciano, and tends to offer notes of pepper, red cherry, and hints of cinnamon. Tempranillo can also be found in Portugal, where it is known as Tinta Roriz, and is used for both table wines and port. A little harder to find outside of Spain and Portugal, there is a small spattering of Tempranillo vines in California, Oregon, and Australia.
Whet your whistle with these Tempranillo wines:
Grape Photo Courtesy of UC Davis