Tempranillo – Spain’s Most Important Red Grape Variety.


The world’s greatest wine regions and countries share one thing in common – a signature grape variety that defines and distinguishes the soil and area on which it thrives. For Spain, it is the noble tempranillo.

In this country tempranillo dominates northern regions like Rioja, Toro, Ribera del Duero, Penedes, Priorat, Navarra; in the middle it is bobal, and in the south it is monastrell (a.k.a mourvedre in France).

Tempranillo works well in both stand-alone versions and blends.

Traditional winemakers prefer to pick fully ripe grapes and favour a short maceration period then age for long periods mostly in American oak barrels. Modern winemakers age their wines in barrels for a few months less. Their wines are complex, dark, and show upfront fruit.

When back labels state that the wine was aged in American oak, it is likely a “traditionalist”. French oak or French/American oak indicates modernist wine.
If there is no reference to aging laws i.e joven, crianza, reserva, and gran reserva, the wine is modern styled.

Joven means none or very short barrel aging.

Crianza requires 12 months of aging in 225 litre barrels with several months in the bottle.

Reserva wines must be aged for a minimum of 36 months of which 24 must be in the barrel and 12 in the bottle.

Gran reserva wines must be aged a minimum of 24 months in 225 litre barrels and 36 months in the bottle. The wine must be released six years after harvest.

Many Spanish vineyards sport vines that are 70 years or older. The older the vines, the more flavourful is the fruit, but the plant produces fewer bunches.


has many synonyms in Spain in Toro it is tinto de Toro, in Pendes Ul de lebre, in others cencibel, tinto del pais, ojo de liebre and tinto de Madrid.

In each region tempranillo yields a slightly different wine. It all depends on teh terroir.


blends well with garnacha, mazuelo (carignan), graciano, cabernet sauvignon and merlot.


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