Think Tempranillo, think Rioja, think Spain - oh, and perhaps Australia. The La Rioja region of northern Spain has been producing this tremendous wine since the 11th century, mainly from the early-ripening, black-hued Tempranillo grape. The wine is aged in French or American oak, adding a layer of vanilla to those characteristic dark fruit and cherry flavours.
Tempranillo is the grape variety that forms the backbone of some of the finest red wines from Spain and Portugal. A thick-skinned variety with a high anthocyanin count that makes for deep-colored wines with moderate tannis, Tempranillo is well suited to the demands of the modern wine consumer. While it lacks its own idiosyncratic flavor profile, the wide range of aromas detectable in Tempranillo-based wines gives it a charm in and of itself, with tasting notes ranging from strawberries, blackcurrants and cherries, to prunes, chocolate and tobacco.
Needing only a short growing season, this early ripening tendency is the source of the name tempranillo, which translates to "little early one". The grape also has many different regional identities in Spain and worldwide, including aragon, cencibel, extremadura, valdepeñas and many derivatives of each.
Almost every red wine from Rioja and RIbera Del Duero has Tempranillo at its core, and in Portugal the variety is widely used in the Douro Valley both for table wines and fortified wines. Tempranillo vines have been successfully adopted in the New World, especially in California, Argentina and Australia.
Food matches for Tempranillo wines include:
- Roasted red peppers stuffed with rice and morcilla blood sausage
- Brazilian pork and bean stew (feijoada)
- Roast lamb with redcurrant jelly