In 2011, TAPAS -otherwise known as the “Tempranillo Advocates, Producers and Amigos Society”-organized their first annual International Tempranillo Day: A celebration of the Tempranillo grape around the globe. Hoping to shed light on what they felt was a still yet to be appreciated grape, the group encouraged everyone to pop open a bottle of Tempranillo, and share their experiences online with the hashtag #TempranilloDay or #Tempranillo.
For 2014, the date will be Thursday, November 13, 2014.
Tempranillo, indigenous to Spain and used heavily in the great Rioja and Ribera del Duero wines, has gone from unknown status in the 80’s and 90’s, to now the fourth most planted wine grape in the world, just under Cabernet at #1, #2 Merlot, #3 Airen (a white Spanish varietal), and followed by Chardonnay at #5.
Until recently, this grape was almost entirely cultivated in Spain. However, things have changed, and global awareness of this noble grape is rapidly spreading, creating excitement and enthusiasm to bring this Old World variety to American soils.
Tempranillo today is grown in many more countries including the United States, Canada, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, France, Turkey, China, Thailand, and more.
We tasted four wines in preparation for Tempranillo Day wine reviews: two from California, one from Portugal, and the last from Spain. Here are our findings:
The Tempranillo and Graciano vines grown in Matchbook Vineyards in Dunnigan Hills are from imported cuttings from the Pesquera region of Spain. Traditionally earthy and spicy, this red wine shows more California style, with a lighter body and softer tastes, vs. the big, chewy wines of Spain.
Nose: Blackberry, blueberry, raspberry bramble and spice.
Taste: Flavors of blueberry compote, leather, and earth. Dark chocolate and mocha are present on the finish, highly concentrated, with medium tannins.
Color: Deep ruby red, with a little plum on the rim.
Varietals: Tempranillo, Tannat, Graciano
Price/Points: $15 SRP/89 pts
Burbank Ranch is a family-owned and operated vineyard located in the Paso Robles AVA in Templeton, CA. Paso Robles is known for its warm daytime temperatures, with cooling nightly breezes from the ocean. The variances in temperature create the perfect storm to grow grapes for winemaking. Read more Paso Robles wine reviews here.
Nose: Dried cherries, blackberry, and leather
Taste: Softer than you may expect, this Tempranillo has the texture and initially reminded us of a California Merlot. It has flavors of sweet strawberry, baked plum cobbler, and spice, with a earth on the mid palate, and a dry, light to medium body finish. Light oak is present, creating an elegant, velvety texture that enhances the flavors present.
Color: Dark purple, with ruby on the rim.
Price/Points: $41 SRP/ 89 pts
Pair: Try this with something fatty, like bacon barbecue wrapped shrimp, pork belly, or butter roasted chicken with sweet leek confit.
Portuguese wines are really coming into their own for 2014, with reds, whites, and rosés that perform at the top of their class.
A stunningly bright, deep ruby red wine that carries enough warmth and complexity to last you through fall and winter, the Vertente is made with Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) grapes. The winemaker uses both the 25-year-old vineyards of Quinta de Nápole, and the old vines planted on the banks of the Pinhão River, to blend both old and new. The result is a steal for under $30. Our full wine review of Niepoort Vertente 2010 is here.
Another big, bold red, the Bodegas Volver Triga 2011 is a blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon from Alicante, Spain. With intense black and blueberry fruit aromas conducive to Tempranillo, it exhibits lots of spice and fruit forward flavors.
Read our full tempranillo wine review for the 2011 Jorge Ordonez’ Bodegas Volver Triga.