Best Tempranillo Wine
Tempranillo is known as Ull de Llebre, Cencibel, Tinto Fino and Tinta del Pais in Spain, and Aragonez or Tinta Roriz in Portugal. Tempranillo is a black grape variety widely grown to make full-bodied red wines in its native Spain. Its name is the diminutive of the Spanish temprano (“early”), a reference to the fact that it ripens several weeks earlier than most Spanish red grapes.
The confirmation of wine in ancient Spain was discovered in 1972, when archaeologists unearthed a mosaic of the wine god Bacchus at Baños de Valdeprados in north-central Spain. Tempranillo may well have been the wine shown in the mosaic because it has been in Spain since 800 BC.
The Phoenicians brought wine to Southern Spain. Tempranillo originated from this area, so it’s quite possible that Tempranillo is related to the ancient Phoenician species in Lebanon. Tempranillo now grows most commonly in the Navarra and Rioja regions, which are about 300 miles west of Barcelona, Spain. It is the main grape used in Rioja, and is often referred to as Spain’s noble grape.
In 2015, Tempranillo was the third most widely planted wine grape variety worldwide with 570,000 acres under vine, of which 88% was in Spain.
The variety does best when hot, sunny days allow its thick-skinned berries to ripen fully, with cold nights to help them to retain their natural acid balance. The result is bright, lively, fruit-driven wine with just the right balance of warmth and tanginess. And this is where Tempranillo comes into its own. It is no surprise, then, that the continental terroirs of Argentina and Australia have been the first New World regions to adopt Tempranillo.
A thick-skinned red grape with a high anthocyanin count that makes for deep-colored wines with moderate tannins, The Best Tempranillo Wine is well suited to modern consumer tastes. While the variety lacks its own idiosyncratic flavor profile, the wide range of aromas detectable in Tempranillo-based wines result in tasting notes ranging from strawberries, blackcurrants and cherries to prunes, chocolate and tobacco depending on vineyard age and mesoclimate.
Oak and Tempranillo certainTly marry well together. American oak is the traditional choice of winemakers in Rioja, Tempranillo’s flavor profile integrates well with the vanilla and coconut notes imparted by new American oak barrels. Further west in Ribera del Duero, the fashion is to use higher proportions of French and used-oak barrels to allow Tempranillo’s fruit to shine with a focus on more spiced oak flavors.
Best Tempranillo Wine: What are the labels telling you in regard to the flavors?
If you’re buying Spanish Tempranillo and you should be buying these fine wines, it’s helpful to understand the labeling requirements and how they affect the flavor. There are 4 legal aging terms that are listed on most bottles of Spanish wine.
- Vin Joven: Vin Jovens are released young and meant to be consumed right away. These are rarely aged in oak and are uncommon outside of Spain.
- Crianza: These reds require 2 years of aging, with 6 months in oak. Traditionally, producers use American oak, which is much stronger than other types of oak.
- Reserva: These are reds that are aged 3 years, with a 1 year in oak. These wines are a big step up in quality and have rich, round flavors because of the minimum oak requirement.
- Gran Reserva: Reserved for wines from phenomenal vintages and aged a minimum of 5 years before release with 18 months of oak aging, most producers will do 20-30 months in barrel to create the outstanding flavor.
BestTempranillo Wine and Food Pairing Suggestions
Tempranillo pairs well with all types of food because of its savory qualities. Regional Spanish cuisine, which includes roasted vegetables and cured meats. However, the wine is diverse and not only pairs with local Spanish food, but it also works well foods from all over the globe.
- Roasted red peppers stuffed with rice and morcilla blood sausage
- Brazilian pork and bean stew (feijoada)
- Roast lamb with redcurrant jelly
- Lasagna, pizza and dishes with tomato-based sauces
- Barbecue grilled-meats, smoky dishes
- Grits, polenta, and dishes with corn as a major ingredient
- Mexican food such as tacos, nachos, burritos, and Chile rellenos
- Dry Indian Chili Chicken
- Cajun Filet Mignon
- Jambalaya Pasta or Rice
- Lamb Chops
- Sirloin Steak
- Lamb Chops
- chicken wings,
- turkey sausage,
- vegetable stew
- roasted eggplant and grouper
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Finca Allende, Calvario, Rioja, Northern Spain, Spain,
Legaris, Alcubilla de Avellaneda, Ribera del Duero, 2015
Màquina & Tabla, Páramos de Nicasia, Toro, 2015
Mauro, Terreus Paraje de Cueva Baja, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León, 2015
Olabarri, Bikandi Reserva, Rioja, Northern Spain, 2005
Abadia Retuerta, Pago Negralada, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León, 2015
CVNE, Imperial Reserva, Rioja, Northern Spain, Spain, 2014
Jané Ventura, Finca els Camps Ull de Llebre, Penedés, 2007
La Loba Wine, La Loba Matanza, Ribera del Duero, 2015
Oxer Bastegieta, Artillero, Rioja, Northern Spain, 2014
Pinna Fidelis, Vendimia Seleccionada, Ribera del Duero, 2012