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Looking for a red wine that’s truly unique? Tempranillo, Spain’s top wine grape, is your answer. This grape, known for its versatility, crafts a wide range of wines, from youthful and fruit-forward to complex and oak-aged, each with its own distinct character.

In its youth, the red wine bursts with vibrant, juicy fruit flavours, offering a refreshing and lively experience on the palate. But as it matures and undergoes oak ageing, it develops complex notes of dust, tobacco, and leather. This creates a sensory experience that serious wine enthusiasts appreciate, with each sip revealing a new layer of depth and complexity.

Embark on a journey of discovery into the unique world of Tempranillo wine,  from its intriguing recommended pairings to its fascinating flavour profiles. We’ll delve into what makes this grape variety truly special, sparking your curiosity and desire to explore further.

What is Tempranillo wine?

Tempranillo is a red wine made primarily from the grape variety of the same name, which often comprises up to 90% of a blend. It’s relatively rare to find Tempranillo bottled as a single varietal because it generally has lower acidity and sugar levels. It is commonly blended with Grenache, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon to create more balanced wines.

These wines span from medium to full-bodied, providing a spectrum of options for easy-drinking despite their medium-high tannins. Younger styles present a captivating ruby-red hue, deepening to a richer color as they mature.

As Tempranillo ages, its flavours become more rounded. With extended ageing, it develops mellow dark fruit aromas and notes of tobacco, earth, and leather. Conversely, younger Tempranillo, aged for just a few years, offers brighter flavours of raspberry, red cherry, and plum.

Typically ranging from 13.5% to 15% alcohol by volume, this Spanish red falls somewhere between medium and heavy wine, making it a versatile choice for many palates. So, next time you seek a food-friendly red wine with a delightful personality, explore the world of Tempranillo.

Tempranillo wine region

Tempranillo wine is primarily produced in several renowned regions across Spain, each with its unique terroir that influences the grape’s characteristics. The two renowned areas are Rioja, located in north-central Spain, and Ribera del Duero, situated slightly to the south. Additionally, significant quantities of this grape are also grown in the Penedès, Navarra, and Valdepeñas regions, each contributing to the diversity and richness of Tempranillo wines.

In Rioja, Tempranillo produces wines that vary from vibrant and fruity to deeply savoury, often oak-aged. Ribera del Duero, where it’s known as Tinto Fino or Tinta del País, is celebrated for its rich, robust wines with excellent ageing potential. In Toro, the grape is called Tinta de Toro and is known for bold, tannic wines that also age well.

Beyond Spain, Tempranillo has found a foothold in several other countries. In Portugal, Tempranillo is known as Tinta Roriz, which is essential in creating both table wines and Port, particularly in the Douro Valley.

The United States, particularly California and Texas, has embraced Tempranillo, exploring its versatility. Meanwhile, in Australia, it’s gaining traction in regions like Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale, producing unique, flavorful wines.

What is Tempranillo wine similar to?

Because of its medium to full body and red fruit flavours, this red wine shares similarities with Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. All three varieties have the potential to age gracefully, developing more complex flavours and aromas over time.

While Cabernet Sauvignon can also be full-bodied with dark fruits, the Spanish red tends to be fruitier and earthier, with softer tannins. On the other hand, Sangiovese, originating from Italy, is known for its medium body, red fruit flavours, and earthy notes, making it a close relative to Tempranillo in terms of the taste profile.

Tempranillo taste profile

This red wine’s versatility extends beyond its structure. It boasts a delightful flavour profile that evolves with age. Here’s a breakdown of the key characteristics you can expect:

  • Red fruits: Red cherry, black cherry, raspberry, plum and dried fig.
    Savoury notes: Sun-dried tomato, leather, cedar, dill, vanilla, clove, tobacco, and a hint of earthy notes.

Is Tempranillo wine dry or sweet?

Tempranillo wine is primarily dry, with minimal residual sugar, emphasizing flavours that originate from the grape itself and the fermentation process rather than sweetness. This red wine highlights vibrant fruit flavours, which are elegantly balanced by its natural tannins and acidity, resulting in a pleasing textural complexity on the palate.

Serving tips: How to drink Tempranillo?

Here are some serving tips to get the most out of this delicious wine:

  • Temperature: Serve it slightly chilled, around 15 – 20 degrees Celsius. You can achieve this by refrigerating it for 30 minutes or using a wine cooler with ice for 15-20 minutes.
  • Glass type: Use Carbenet Sauvignon-style glass or universal red wine glass
  • Decanting: Decanting for about an hour can soften the tannins, letting the flavours come forward more clearly.
  • Cellaring: Can be cellared up to 10 years.
  • Consumption: Consume within 2-3 days for the freshest taste.

Tempranillo wine pairing

Naturally, this red wine variety complements classic Spanish dishes featuring roasted vegetables and cured meats. However, its adaptability extends beyond its Spanish roots.

For younger styles, such as Montecillo Rioja Crianza, consider lighter dishes like grilled meats, tapas, tomato-based pasta, and manchego cheese.

Aged varieties with savoury notes, such as FAUSTINO VII Tempranillo 2011, complement richer dishes like roasted lamb, stews, grilled vegetables, or even fajitas.

This Spanish red wine also adapts well to global cuisines, offering excellent pairings with:

  • Corn-based dishes like grits and polenta
  • Mexican cuisines such as tacos, nachos, burritos, and chile rellenos

Tempranillo wine brands

Here are some top producers from Spain, with their specific wines (name and vintage).
Abadia Retuerta: 2016 Pago Negralada

  • Beronia Rioja: 2015 Reserva
  • Bodegas Montecillo: 2015 Gran Reserva 22 Barricas
  • Conde Valdemar Reserva: 2015 Reserva
  • La Rioja Alta: 2016 Viña Alberdi Reserva

Raise a toast with Tempranillo

Tempranillo offers a delightful journey for your senses. This red wine from Spain transforms with age, starting with vibrant fruit flavours and maturing into a complex symphony of spice, tobacco, and leather. With its easy-drinking nature and diverse food pairings, this red wine is a variety waiting to be explored.

Browse our diverse selection of Tempranillo wines on Whisky.my, and you might just discover your new favourite!

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