A Wine Cellar guide to Tempranillo
Tempranillo is Spain's noble grape. Dating back to before the time of Christ, it is grown throughout northern and central Spain, perhaps most famously in Rioja where it is often blended with smaller quantities of Garnacha (Grenache).
Fine Tempranillo-led wines have high acidity, moderate tannins and tend to be masculine in character, displaying hints of leather, tobacco and cherry. In Rioja, Tempranillo is aged in French or American oak, producing rich, concentrated wines with real staying power. In Ribera del Duero, the grape is known by the alias Tinto Fino. Here, the wines typically see less oak and exhibit more fruit flavours. At the very top-end, Dominio de Pingus and Vega Sicilia are two of Spain’s finest and most celebrated Tempranillo blends.
Outside Spain, the variety is used in the production of table wines and fortified wines in Portugal's Douro Valley. It has also been planted further afield in countries such as Argentina, Australia, Turkey and South Africa, though it remains unfamiliar to most SA wine drinkers.