Tempranillo - The Noble Grape Of SpainTempranillo - The Noble Grape Of Spain

Native to Spain, the Tempranillo grape is a black grape used in the production of full-bodied red wines. It has also been introduced to vineyards in the US, South Africa and Australia where it is prized because it ripens earlier than other grapes, just as it does in Spain. The wines made from these grapes can be bottled and consumed early, but the best ones are aged in oak barrels for several years. The flavors and aromas range from that of plum and berries to tobacco, cedar, vanilla, leather and herbs.

The Tempranillo (http://www.wineaccess.com/wine/grape/Tempranillo) grape has been grown in all areas of Spain, but most noticeably in the cooler northern regions of La Rioja and Valdepenas. The Spanish Conquistadors brought the seeds of this grape to the New World in the 17th century, where it still retains the same qualities of those grown in Spain.

It was not until 1905 that it was introduced to the wine growing regions of California and really did not flourish in favorite wines until the 1980's when wineries were established in mountain areas. Since 1993, production of the wine has really taken off. Tempranillo wine is making an impact in Australia, as well, as a wine with good fruit flavors and low acidity. In Portugal, it is mainly used as a minor component of port wines and red table wines.

Although Tempranillo is widely recognized as a deep red wine, there are also white wine varieties, just like Zinfandel (http://www.wineaccess.com/wine/grape/Zinfandel). This developed as a result of the discovery of a cluster of white grapes in a vineyard in La Rioja in 1988. The skins of these grapes were yellow-green rather than the darker blue-black. Testing has shown that they are true Tempranillo grapes with identical leaves, clusters, grape formations and ripening times.

The Tempranillo grape grows best at high altitudes. It needs both heat and cool temperatures. The coolness helps give the wine the elegance and acidity and the heat helps give the grapes high levels of sugar and thick skins.

Tempranillo is bottled as a variety on its own but it also makes up about 90% of other blends of wine. It is blended with Garnacha Tinta, Mazuelo and Graciano and is aged in oak barrels. It is also a component of the more expensive Cabernet Sauvignon from the La Roija region but Spanish legislation does not permit it to be listed on the label. The wine made from this grape has a moderate level of alcohol but it is a long lasting wine that will not lose its taste or aroma.

Fruit is the characteristic taste of Tempranillo wine. You will taste ripe cherries with hints of cocoa and spices. The fact that it is aged in oak barrels adds to its taste and aroma and gives it a soft tannic quality. The scent of vanilla lingers through the pleasing finish it leaves on the palette. When it is consumed at an early age, the wine is very fruity and reminiscent of a fine Grenache (http://www.wineaccess.com/wine/grape/Grenache).

However as it ages, it starts to lose the fruity flavor and becomes more complex. After it has aged for a few months, it is suitable to pair with food. If you are nibbling on cheese this is a suitable sipping wine. It also goes well with barbecued food, spicy and Indian foods, chicken, and pork dishes.
by Allison Ryan
References and Bibliography
Allison Ryan is a freelance marketing writer from San Diego, CA. She specializes in wineries of the world, the history of viniculture, and loves to sample new wines. Her favorite varietals are Tempranillo and Grenache. For a great selection of these wines and more, visit http://www.wineaccess.com/.
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