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Tempranillo Wine

Learn about Tempranillo — taste profile, popular regions and more ...

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Tempranillo is Spain’s premier and most planted grape variety, accounting for around 20% of all Spanish plantings. Tempranillo translates to “a bit early” in Spanish and its name refers to the grape’s growing cycle, since it both buds and ripens early. Tempranillo is the base of many of Spain’s iconic wines and it is highly regarded by winemakers because of its tremendous versatility and adaptability. Tempranillo wine is the star of Spain’s Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions and important throughout most of Spain. Depending on location, it takes on a few synonyms; in Penedès, it is known as Ull de Llebre and in Valdepeñas, goes by Cencibel. Furthermore, in Portugal, known as Tinta Roriz, it is a key component both in Port wines and the dry red wines of the Douro. The New World regions of California, Washington and Oregon have all had success with Tempranillo, producing a ripe, amicable and fruit-dominant style of red.

Tempranillo Tasting Notes

Tempranillo is a dry, red wine and produces medium-weight reds with strawberry and black fruit characteristics. Depending on growing conditions and winemaking, it can produce hints of spice, toast, leather, tobacco, herb or vanilla. Tempranillo is extremely sensitive to both its growing environment and to winemaking techniques, which makes it difficult to list the most representative aroma descriptors.

Tempranillo Food Pairings

Tempranillo’s modest, fine-grained soft tannins and good acidity make it extremely food friendly. Tempranillo wine can be paired with a wide variety of Spanish-inspired dishes—especially grilled lamb chops, a rich chorizo and bean stew or paella. Tempranillo also pairs well with traditional dishes from Castile and León (Castilla y León) like roasted lamb or sucking pig (lechazo and cochinillo respectively) or pork chops Sarmiento style (chuletillas al sarmiento). The young wines, in which Tempranillo dominates, offer bright red fruit and licorice flavors that are a good match for the many vegetable dishes that La Rioja de Navarra has to offer.

Sommelier Secrets for Tempranillo Wine

The Spanish take their oak aging requirements very seriously, especially in Rioja. There, a naming system is in place to indicate how much time the wine has spent in both barrel and bottle before release. Rioja labeled Joven (a fresh and fruity style) spends a year or less in oak, whereas Gran Reserva (complex and age-worthy) must be matured for a minimum of two years in oak and three years in bottle before release. Requirements on Crianza and Reserva fall in between.

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  • La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva 2015  Front Label
    La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva 2015
    Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
    • JS96
    • D93
    • WS91
    4.2 45 Ratings
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  • Bodegas Ramirez de la Piscina Reserva 2016  Front Label
    Bodegas Ramirez de la Piscina Reserva 2016
    Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
    • D93
    • W&S92
    • JS92
    • V92
    • WE92
    • WW91
    4.0 84 Ratings
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  • R. Lopez de Heredia Rioja Vina Tondonia Reserva 2008  Front Label
    R. Lopez de Heredia Rioja Vina Tondonia Reserva 2008
    Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
    • JS95
    • RP95
    • D92
    • W&S91
    4.2 114 Ratings
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  • La Rioja Alta Vina Arana Rioja Gran Reserva 2014  Front Label
    La Rioja Alta Vina Arana Rioja Gran Reserva 2014
    Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
    • JS96
    • D96
    • RP90
    3.9 84 Ratings
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  • La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 Tinto 2011  Front Label
    La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 Tinto 2011
    Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
    • JS96
    • WW94
    • V94
    • D94
    • RP94
    4.4 76 Ratings
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  • Protos Reserva 2015  Front Label
    Protos Reserva 2015
    Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, Spain
    • W&S93
    • JS91
    • D90
    5.0 25 Ratings
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  • La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 Tinto (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2011  Front Label
    La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 Tinto (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2011
    Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
    • JS96
    • WW94
    • D94
    • RP94
    0.0 0 Ratings
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  • Emilio Moro Malleolus de Valderramiro 2016  Front Label
    Emilio Moro Malleolus de Valderramiro 2016
    Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, Spain
    • D94
    • RP93
    • JD92
    0.0 0 Ratings
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  • Protos Gran Reserva 2014  Front Label
    Protos Gran Reserva 2014
    Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, Spain
    • W&S92
    • D92
    4.9 28 Ratings
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  • Benjamin Romeo La Cueva del Contador 2014 Front Label
    Benjamin Romeo La Cueva del Contador 2014
    Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
    • V93
    • D91
    0.0 0 Ratings
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  • Valduero Tierra Alta Dos Maderas 2018  Front Label
    Valduero Tierra Alta Dos Maderas 2018
    Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, Spain
    • D92
    0.0 0 Ratings
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  • Bodegas Campillo Gran Reserva 2009  Front Label
    Bodegas Campillo Gran Reserva 2009
    Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
    • TP95
    • JS93
    • D91
    • RP90
    0.0 0 Ratings
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  • CVNE Vina Real Gran Reserva 2014  Front Label
    CVNE Vina Real Gran Reserva 2014
    Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
    • RP94
    • JS93
    • WW93
    • WE92
    • WS91
    • D91
    0.0 0 Ratings
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