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Grape Varietals

Tempranillo

Tempranillo-Grapes

Rioja

Bodegas-Marqués-de-Murrieta-1942-gran-reserva

Bodegas-Vega-Sicilia-1968

Introduction

Tempranillo is a thick skinned black grape variety native to Spain where it is widely grown to make full bodied wines. The name originates from the world “temprano” meaning “early” – a reference to the fact that it ripens several weeks earlier than most Spanish red grapes. Often referred to as Spain's noble grape, it is the main grape used in Rioja and also in the better-suited, cooler Spanish regions like Ribera del Duero, Navarra, and Penedès. Initially grown only to produce jug wines in California, the grape experienced a renaissance during the 1990s resulting in increased growth in countries like America, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, New Zealand & Mexico. This was a result of a new wave of Spanish growers who showed the world that Tempranillo could produce wines of great character and quality outside the Rioja region as well.

Tempranillo Wines

Growing its best at higher altitudes, Tempranillo can tolerate a much warmer climate too. The grape yields wines that are ruby in colour with aromas and flavours of berries, plum, tobacco, vanilla, leather and herb. Often making up as much as 90% of a blend, Tempranillo is less frequently bottled as a single varietal. Being low in both acidity and sugar content, it is most commonly blended with Grenache, Carignan, Graciano, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Tempranillo is the major component of the typical Rioja blends and constitutes 90-100% of Ribera del Duero wines. In Australia, Tempranillo is blended with Grenache and Syrah. In Portugal, where it is known as Tinta Roriz, it is a major grape in the production of some Port wines.

Some of the most noted and famous Tempranillo wines come from Bodegas Vega Sicilia from the Ribera del Duero region. This winery is known for barrel or bottle ageing its wines for years before release; depending on the vintage of course. For example, in 1991 the winery released both the 1968 and 1982 vintages after 23 and 9 years of aging. Another notable example is a Rioja wine from Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta which released its 1942 vintage Gran Reserva in 1983 after 41 years of aging.

Food Pairing

Tempranillo wines have flavour characteristics of plum, strawberry and cherry laced with earthy minerality. This makes it a food friendly wine matching various Spanish, Mexican & Mediterranean dishes. Pair Tempranillo wines with tapas, enchiladas, ham croquettes, mousakka and grilled or roasted meats like lamb, pork, and venison.

Interesting Facts

For some time, Tempranillo was thought to be related to the Pinot noir grape.

Tempranillo has been well received in Texas, USA and has grown to be considered the state's signature grape.

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