Curious Small Sips #38: Tempranillo

Tempranillo grapes on the vine

The Tempranillo grape is a treasure from Spanish soil. Drought-resistant, thick-skinned and resilient—all reasons why it is one of the top five most grown grape varieties in the world.

Tempranillo boasts dominant flavours of red fruits, cherry, fig and earthy cedar. It is commonly blended with Garnacha/Graciano/Mazuelo. Visually, it’s medium ruby to red in the glass.

Most famously known as the Rioja grape, the clay soils in the three Rioja Regions—Rioja Alta, Alavesa and Rioja Baja—give the wine ample structure, along with pepper and red fruits.

The Tempranillo grape can be found in Rioja’s neighbouring wine regions Navarra and Castilla Lyon as well. It’s also cultivated in Portugal, where it can withstand the almost desert-like soils and is used as a blending grape for port.

An unoaked Tempranillo will be delightfully light and fruit-driven. When Tempranillo is oaked, you can feel and taste the complexity of the grape. The longer Tempranillo is oaked, the more mature it becomes, developing more tertiary aromas. Notes of deeper, darker fruit, dry leaves, and Tempranillo’s signature leather flavours swirl throughout the wine.

Tempranillo is a low-maintenance grape variety that can be moulded into many different styles, which makes it a pleasure for both winemakers and us wine enthusiasts.

Photo: Fabio Ingrosso, CC BY 2.0

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