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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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  • CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva Rioja 2015  Front Label
    CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva Rioja 2015
    Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
    • JS97
    • WS94
    • W&S92
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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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  • Bodegas Valderiz Tomas Esteban 2014  Front Label
    Bodegas Valderiz Tomas Esteban 2014
    Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, Spain
    • RP93
    • JS93
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  • Bodegas Beronia Rioja Gran Reserva 2012  Front Label
    Bodegas Beronia Rioja Gran Reserva 2012
    Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
    • JS93
    • WE92
    • WS92
    3.8 14 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 77 Ratings
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  • Remelluri Rioja Reserva 2006  Front Label
    Remelluri Rioja Reserva 2006
    Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
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    • Vinedos de Paganos El Puntido Gran Reserva 2007
      Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
      • RP96
      • WW93
      3.9 35 Ratings
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    • Sierra Cantabria Gran Reserva 2010  Front Label
      Sierra Cantabria Gran Reserva 2010
      Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
      • WE94
      • WW93
      • V93
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    • Bodegas Lan Vina Lanciano Reserva 2010 Front Label
      Bodegas Lan Vina Lanciano Reserva 2010
      Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
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      • Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial 2011  Front Label
        Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial 2011
        Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
        • WE97
        • V95
        • WS94
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      • Bodegas Campillo Reserva Selecta 2012
        Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
        • WE92
        • JS90
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      • Bodegas Ontanon Gran Reserva 2010  Front Label
        Bodegas Ontanon Gran Reserva 2010
        Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
        • WE92
        • WS91
        4.4 14 Ratings
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      • Hermanos Pecina Reserva 2013
        Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
        • V93
        3.8 12 Ratings
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      • Bodegas Lan Culmen Reserva 2017  Front Label
        Bodegas Lan Culmen Reserva 2017
        Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
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        • Bodegas Campillo Gran Reserva 2009
          Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
          • TP95
          • JS93
          • D91
          • RP90
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        • R. Lopez de Heredia Rioja Vina Tondonia Reserva (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2009
          Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
          • W&S93
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        • Arzuaga Gran Reserva 2016  Front Label
          Arzuaga Gran Reserva 2016
          Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, Spain
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          • Bodegas Fernando Remirez de Ganuza Rioja Reserva 2014
            Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
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            • Bodegas Fernando Remirez de Ganuza Rioja Gran Reserva 2012  Front Label
              Bodegas Fernando Remirez de Ganuza Rioja Gran Reserva 2012
              Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
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              • Benjamin Romeo Contador 2016
                Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain
                • RP98
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              • Bodegas Vega Sicilia Unico Tinto 2011  Front Label
                Bodegas Vega Sicilia Unico Tinto 2011
                Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, Spain
                • JS98
                • W&S96
                • RP96
                • WS95
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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
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