Tempranillo is an old red grape variety that yields high quality wines. The most vineyards of this variety are found in the famous wine region Rioja, located in Spain. Besides there, Tempranillo is grown in Italy, Portugal, the US, South Africa, Australia, Morocco, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, the Dominican Republic, Chile and others. Tempranillo is known by other names, including Ojo de liebre, Aragonez, Cencibel, Tempranillo de la Rioja, Aragones, Tinto Madrid, Tinta Montereiro and others.
Tempranillo is distinguished by its dark green, wide, pedate, highly serrated leaf. The underside of each leaf is covered in trichomes. During the fall months, the colors become more saturated. The grape cluster of this variety is medium to large, cone-shaped, compact. The grapes can be small or medium sized. They are spherical but are sometimes flattened due to their dense arrangement next to each other.
They have a blue or dark blue skin that is not particularly thick. The flesh is juicy and pleasant to the taste. These fruits yield remarkable red wines. Sometimes it's difficult for the grapes to accumulate enough sugars and it is therefore combined with Grenache and Carignan, with Tempranillo still comprising the greater part of the blend. In Portugal, they use the harvested grapes to make Port blended wines. The fruits are also used to make grape juice.
Tempranillo is a variety that prefers high altitudes, moderate temperatures and sunlight. It grows fine in clay and limestone soils. It falls in the early blooming category of grapes. The vineyards are distinguished by moderate and regular yields. A negative aspect to the variety is that it is very vulnerable to various diseases. It is susceptible to gray rot and low temperatures.
History of Tempranillo
Tempranillo originates from the wine region of Rioja, where even today it is grown extensively. Its name comes from the Spanish word temprano, meaning early. As you may guess, the grape is called so due to the fact that the fruits begin to ripen relatively early.
Many believe that this variety may have a connection to Pinot Noir. An old legend goes that Cistercian monks took this variety to several monasteries located within the confines of Rioja and left it there, thus leading to the creation of Tempranillo. But based on studies done, there is no genetic link between the 2 varieties.
Even though it's not fully clear how exactly the variety came to be, another fact regarding it is unquestionable - Tempranillo quickly spread to many areas of the world. It is thought that it was brought to America during the 17th century by Spanish conquerors. Despite its fragility, by the 20th century it was already being grown in a number of countries.
Characteristics of Tempranillo
The grape elixirs from Tempranillo are known for their deep, enticing, red color. Besides with their full saturation, the young representative of this wine impress with their fruit nuances that remind of small fruits such as blackcurrants, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and mulberries.
But this does not at all mean that the aged wines have nothing to offer consumers. Quite the contrary! Aging has a superb effect on wines from Tempranillo and they further enrich their characteristics with scents of cocoa, plum, tobacco and smoke.
All in all, with time the wine from this variety turns into a genuinely excellent masterpiece that will impress you with its earthy and resinous tones.
The presence of Tempranillo at your dining table requires the proper attention. Before serving, the wine needs to be very slightly cooled to about 62.6°F (17°C) if it is more full-bodied and older. If, however, the grape elixir you intend to serve has been bottled recently, you can cool it to 59°F (15°C).
Cooling is important for presenting the drink it the best way possible. You can serve a young wine in the middle of the evening and if you have a well aged drink you can wait until they serve the fresher and lighter alcoholic drinks.
For serving, choose a glass with a stem made from smooth glass that has no engravings. The high quality wine also requires an equally presentable appetizer. Traditionally, red wines make an excellent partner for game. You can try jellied partridge, jellied quail, sauteed pheasant, as well as roasted deer.
Of course, if you have no way of getting game, cook up some recipes with veal, pork, beef and lamb. Chicken and turkey meat are also a fine solution. Suitable appetizers for the red wine include various dried sausages, lukanka, fillets and sujuk.
If you're not a fan of meat, you can combine Tempranillo wines with a cheese as well. Cheddar, blue cheese and Camembert are suitable in this case. Vegans can sip the red wine with a spicy tofu. The fragrant grape elixir is appropriate for combining with mushrooms dishes too. Make some macaroni with mushrooms, stuffed mushrooms or mushrooms with tomatoes.See more