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Tempranillo Day 2019

Spain is synonymous with Tempranillo, though many wine lovers are unaware of this because of its numerous and confusing aliases. The best and most famous regions are Rioja and Ribera del Duero (where it is known as Tinto Fino and Tinto del Pais) but fine examples can be found from Toro (as Tinta de Toro), Valdepeñas (Cencibel), and the Penedes (Ojo de Llebre and Ull de Llebre).

Tempranillo gained fame in the late 1800s when several of the famous Bordeaux Châteaus looked to Spain for grapes after the louse phylloxera had destroyed their vines. Tempranillo takes well to both oak and bottle aging, and the better examples can be extraordinarily long-lived. Tempranillo ripens early (temprano means “early” in Spanish), has thick skins, and makes deeply-colored wines. It is highly resistant to heat, growing best on hot, dry, south facing slopes away from water (it is susceptible to rot).

In La Rioja, Tempranillo expresses itself differently from vineyards in high-elevation Alta, warmer and flatter Baja, and a small area on the other side of the Rio Ebro, Alavesa, where it is known for finesse. Winemakers are free to blend grapes from across these zones, and also have the freedom to blend in Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo grapes for balance. Barrel-aging is required and controlled by the local Consejo Regulador (Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva have progressively longer required barrel aging before release). Even at Crianza level, the wines are balanced, expressive, and supple, not at all like the often harsh, disjointed, high alcohol new releases from so many parts of the world. Many new wave producers in Ribera del Duero, on the other hand, are relying heavily on French and American oak barrels for richness and flavor.

In Portugal it is known as Tinta Roriz, and is commonly used in the blend for Port (it constitutes 12.1% of plantings in the Douro Valley, the second most prevalent vine). Further south in the Dão it is known as Tinta Aragonez. Tempranillo is grown in the Languedoc-Roussillon in Southern France. In Argentina it is known as Tempranilla, where it still occupies the second largest area planted to red wine-grape varieties. It excels in the Valle de Uco. It is also planted in California, where it sometimes goes under the name of Valdepeñas.

In general Tempranillo makes masculine wines with a firm tannic structure, often from lavish oak aging, especially in the Ribera del Duero. It has a characteristic strawberry flavor, along with cherry, olive, tobacco, cedar, and stewed meat notes.


"In 2011, TAPAS organized the first annual International Tempranillo Day: A celebration of the Tempranillo grape with all its regional synonyms. We encouraged everyone to open a bottle of Tempranillo, enjoy the fun, and share their experiences online with the hashtag #TempranilloDay or #Tempranillo. 

Tempranillo, indigenous to Spain and used in the great Rioja and Ribera del Duero wines, is planted in 500,000 acres of the world’s vineyards, making it the fourth most planted wine grape, and that would be enough to celebrate.

Until recently, this noble grape’s entire acreage was almost all grown in Spain. Perhaps others were confused by the 60 or more regional synonyms for Tempranillo, which in itself may be a record worth celebrating.

But things have changed: knowledge of this noble grape is rapidly spreading, creating excitement and a spirit of cooperation among adventurous vintners bringing this Old World variety to New World soils. Tempranillo today is grown in many more countries including the United States, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, France, Portugal, Turkey, Canada, China, Thailand, and more. And that’s why we established International Tempranillo Day."

#TempranilloDay #Tempranillo

Here are a few top Tempranillo picks from Planet Grape Wine Review:

2015 Carlos Serres Rioja Crianza DOCa Spain 90, $13
Lightly chewy and dry with notes of cherry, vanilla, cedar, white mushroom and bay leaf.

2006 Muriel Rioja Gran Reserva DOCa Spain 92, $29.99
Lightly chewy, dry, balanced and fresh with notes of dried cherry, stewed tomato, forest floor, leather, cedar and black tea leaf.

2016 Figuero Tinto 4 Ribera del Duero DO Spain 90, $21.99
Lightly chewy, tart and dry with notes of cherry, red plum, milk chocolate and vanilla.


2016 Halter Ranch Tempranillo Estate Adelaida District Paso Robles California  90, $60
Rich, ripe, concentrated and satisfying with oozing blackberry, red currants and savory notes. SIP Certified Sustainable.


For more great Tempranillo picks visit us at




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