Grape Variety

Tempranillo: Discover This Grape Variety

Should rioja wine be chilled?

Tempranillo, a red Grape Variety became famous thanks to its versatile, intense and absolutely tasty personality. The red wines made with this grapes are strong, flavorful and quite soft all together. These characteristics explain well the increasing success of Spanish red wines all over the world. Tempranillo is a grapevine that deserves to be explored and tasted … many times hopefully. Fortunately, there are many great Tempranillo wines. You have plenty of choices, cheers!

Tempranillo Vineyards in Rioja, Spain

Tempranillo Vineyards in Rioja, Spain

Tempranillo Grape Variety: Origins and Diffusion

We have a great certainty about Tempranillo: this grape variety is intimately linked to Spain.

Most probably, Tempranillo Grape Variety arrived in the territories of ancient Spain and Portugal already during the commercial expansion of the Phoenicians, a few centuries B.C, which saw the birth of numerous flourishing colonies on the coasts and inland.

As a result of this historical connection, in Ribera del Duero Trempranillo it is also called Tinta del País (it means literally: Ink of the Country), to define its close link with the Nation, both in the past and present.

Despite its provenance, Tempranillo is also widespread in other countries, in Europe and beyond. Excellent wines from Tempranillo grapes are produced in Portugal above all, but also in Argentina, France, Australia and United States.
Depending on the territories where it is cultivated, it can take different names. For example, in Portugal it is known as Tinta Roriz, in the Douro region, and as Aragonez in the Alentejo territory.

Tempranillo Grape Variety: Cultivation Needs

Tempranillo Grape appears vigorous, thanks to a robust trunk, with characteristic red and cinder shades. A vigor that extends throughout the grape variety, with large leaves, medium round berries and pretty large clusters, easy to be hand-picked.

The berries of Tempranillo, with their deep blue-black colour, reach perfect ripeness in well-ventilated places, marked by significant temperature variations.

This type of grapevine loves sunny places and, above all, deep sandy loam or clay loam soils: a composition that allows the roots to penetrate deeply and obtain constant nourishment, even in periods of drought.
These environmental conditions are important because Tempranillo tends to ripen earlier than other varieties, due to its natural lack of acids. A feature that earned it its name. In fact, the term Tempranillo derives from the Spanish word Temprano, that means “Early”.

Tempranillo: most famous Cultivation Places and Denominations

Tempranillo grapes are cultivated all over the Spain. This grape variety is known locally with different names: Tinto fino and Cencibel in the province of La Mancha, Escobera and Chinchillano in Estremadura, Vid de Aranda in the province of Burgos.
The regions of Rioja and Ribera del Duero, in North-Central Spain, are its favorite homelands. There, Tempranillo can find the most suitable climatic conditions and soil types necessary for its perfect ripening.
Beyond these two renowned terroirs, known as the two most famous Spanish Appellations, for the undisputed quality of their red wines (Rioja and Ribera del Duero red wines are listed among the 100 top world wines selected by Wine Spectator), excellent expressions of Tempranillo are created in Castilla La Mancha, Catalonia and Aragon regions.

Intense Ruby Red Colour from Tempranillo Wine

Intense ruby red colour from Tempranillo wine

Tempranillo Wines: Characteristics

Tempranillo Wines reveal a color ranging from ruby red to garnet red: a bright and dense hue. As for perfumes, Tempranillo Wines offer a lot of them. A generosity in which the aromas of red fruits immediately stand out, with cherries at the forefront, followed by dried fruit scents, such as figs, prunes and raisins. A wine bouquet that widens with penetrating grassy, spicy and toasted nuances, that reminds you of cedar wood, juniper berries, pepper, wild fennel and rosemary.
Tempranillo Red Wines possesses a full-body and a rich, dry flavour: they are intense, with pleasant tannins and a medium acidity. The best part of tasting it, it’s their monumental, savory and aromatic persistence, with red fruit, oriental spices and, sometimes, tobacco notes in the finish. A red wine that enchants with its soft and fleshy mouthfeel.

Tempranillo Wines: Best Food Pairings

Finally, here it comes the most juicy part … food pairings for Tempranillo!

With the right food pairings, Tempranillo Wines became marvelous, not just because their great aging potential. In fact, From Tempranillo grapes, both young, tasty and juicy wines are born, as well as structured nectars, capable of a long bottle aging, for over 10 years. That’s why Tempranillo Wines are so easy to match and enjoy.
With their grassy and fruity charme and the spicy edge, they are perfect to match succulent recipes, with Mediterranean style and aromas, based on white and red meats, savory cheeses, vegetables and mushrooms.

Bacon and Onion Cheeseburger

Bacon and Onion Cheeseburger: a perfect pair for a young Tempranillo Wine

Young Tempranillo Wines: Best Food Pairings

These wines pair perfectly with tomato, eggplants, peppers, red onions and white and red grilled meat based recipes. A very good company for all these dishes:

  • Macaroni with meat sauce
  • Provola and sausage lasagna (or a more spanish version, with Manchego cheese)
  • Parmigiana di melanzane
  • Coq au vin
  • Polenta with pork chops
  • Tapas with chorizo and grilled vegetables
  • Grilled picanha
  • Devilled chicken
  • Chicken with peppers
  • Bacon and Onion Cheeseburger
Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva - A full bodied Tempranillo

Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva – A full bodied Tempranillo

Structured Tempranillo Wines: Best Food Pairings

Aged and more structured Tempranillo Wines are the perfect match for all the following recipes, based on red meat, game, lamb, medium-aged to aged cheeses:

  • Pistachio-crusted rack of lamb
  • Beef Wellington
  • Pasta with venison ragù
  • Steak with caramelized onions and herbs
  • Moroccan lamb stew
  • Beef stew with mushrooms
  • Cheeses like Idiazabal, Manchego, Cheddar, Asiago, Pecorino Toscano

In addition, thanks to its good softness and the fine quality of tannins, a Tempranillo Wine can pair smoothly with spicy and sweet-and-sour recipes, like these:

  • Beef Chili
  • Pork tenderloin in coffee crust
  • Goulash with potatoes
  • Sichuan pepper beef stir-fry
  • Honey and soy duck
  • Mexican pork carnitas
  • Chicken and bean enchiladas

Which recipe you like the most to enjoy your favorite Tempranillo at its best? Let us know, leave your comment!