Home > Grapes, Ribero del Duero, Rioja, Sparkling wine, Tempranillo > Celebrate Tempranillo!

Celebrate Tempranillo!

November 14, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Tempranillo_AutoCollage_29_ImagesToday is an International Tempranillo Day 2013!

Tempranillo is an indigenous grape originated in Spain (by the way, do you know that Spain has the biggest area of grape plantings in the world?), with more than 2000 years of history. It is black, thick-skinned grape, capable of surviving temperature swings of Mediterranean climate, with very hot days and cool nights. Name Tempranillo comes from Spanish word temprano, which means “early”. Tempranillo typically ripens two weeks earlier compare to many other grapes.  Tempranillo also one of the most widely planted red grapes in the world, with about 500,000 acres planted world-wide.

Tempranillo grapes are naturally low in acid and sugar content, so they often rely on blending partners to complement on both. Flavor profile of Tempranillo typically includes berries, leather (so famous in Rioja wines) and tobacco. Most famous Tempranillo wines come from Spain, from Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions, but Tempranillo is successfully growing in many other regions, including Portugal, California, Texas (up and coming star), South Africa, Australia and others. It is also interesting to note that Tempranillo is known under lots of different names (and as such, can throw some curve balls to The Wine Century club aficionados) – it is known in Spain as Tempranillo, Tinto Fino, Ull de Llebre, Tinto de Toro (this grape actually has clonal differences, similar to Sangiovese/Sangiovese Grosso), Cencibel and many others. It is known in Portugal as Tinta Roriz, Aragonez and Tinta Aragonez. But for the rest of the world it is simply known as Tempranillo.

So what is so great about Tempranillo? It has a few qualities which squarely set it on the line with the bets of the best in the wine world.

First, it has a great affinity for oak – Tempranillo wines can age and improve for the very long time in the oak barrels, and the resulting wine will pick up subtle nuances and complexity from that oak.

Tempranillo wines are very good at ageing. Best Tempranillo wines will rival best Bordeaux and Burgundy when it comes to improving with age and maintaining its youthful character. I have a first-hand account I can share with you – here is my experience with 1947 Rioja Imperial.

Last but absolutely not least in my book – Tempranillo wines are affordable! You can drink absolutely fabulous wines in the price range of $20 to $50, occasionally going into the $80+ – can you say the same about California Cabernet, or Burgundy, or Bordeaux? Not really… But with Tempranillo wines you do have this luxury. Of course there are  Tempranillo wines which will cost $600+, but those are the exception, not the norm.

So what Tempranillo wines should you be drinking today, or any other day for that matter? I would love to give you a variety of recommendations, but come to think of it, I can only mention a few names coming strictly from Spain. There is nothing I can tell you about about Portuguese Tempranillo wines, as Tinta Roriz is typically blended with other grapes to produce Port. And while Tempranillo wines are made in Texas, California, Oregon, Washington and probably other states in US, most of those wines are available only at the wineries and rarely leave state limits.

But – when it comes to Tempranillo from Spain, I got favorites! Let me give you a few names of the producers – all the recommendations are personal, as I tasted many of their wines.

Rioja: La Rioja Alta, Bodegas Muga, Vina Real, Lopez de Heredia, Cune Imperial

Ribero del Duero: Emilio Moro, Vega Sicilia, Hasienda el Monsterio, Bodegas Alion

Toro: Teso La Monja, Numanthia

DO La Mancha: Bodegas Volver (one of the singularly best wines money can buy for around $15)

So I think it is the time to have a glass wine. Before we part let me leave you with a few interesting resources:

A vintage chart of Rioja wines, going all the way back to the 1925

A general vintage chart of Spanish wines, starting from 1992

A map of Spanish wine regions

And we are done here. Ahh, before I forget – Tempranillo Day now has a permanent spot in the calendar! It will be celebrated every second Thursday in November. Have a great Tempranillo Day and cheers!


  1. November 14, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever had wine made with this grape, at least to my knowledge, I have to find your recommendations and try. Maybe for Thanksgiving.

    • talkavino
      November 14, 2013 at 11:35 pm

      Tempranillo wines should perfectly pair with Thanksgiving feast. Find a good Rioja – I’m sure you will like it!

  2. November 14, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    We have our own label with Tempranillo being our flagship wine so loved your piece on Tempranillo day!

  3. November 15, 2013 at 1:44 am

    Ok- I just realized I made the same comment on your post from yesterday- wow, feeling extremely foolish. Didn’t mean to hit you over the head so many times about our Tempranillo- when I read something about it, I get excited since you don’t see many domestic producers of it. It’s been a long week…

    • talkavino
      November 15, 2013 at 7:29 am

      Listen, don’t feel bad! With 4 kids, the dog and winery to manage, I’m sure your hands are quite full! And believe me – more comments is always better than less comments!
      You are absolutely right about domestic Tempranillo – I don’t really remember tasting any. Will be very interesting to see what expression can it take in regions outside of Spain.

  4. November 15, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Could not celebrate it this year 😦 But I will try and catch up this weekend!

    • talkavino
      November 15, 2013 at 2:01 pm

      Looking forward to your notes!

  5. Dolores
    November 15, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Enjoying one right now 🙂

    • talkavino
      November 15, 2013 at 6:58 pm

      Great! What are you drinking?

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