Monday, February 2, 2009

Rachel's Style Profile: Tempranillo

Tempranillo is referred to as Spain’s “Noble Grape.”The word tempranillo literally means “little early one.”This seems quite appropriate considering the grape’s short growing season and early ripening tendency. With Spain being the world’s third largest producer of wine, Rioja being its most famous wine, and Tempranillo being the primary grape in Rioja, one can easily see the importance of this grape to Spanish winemakers. Tempranillo is grown primarily in the Rioja Alta and Ribera del Duero regions of Spain. Although traditionally Tempranillo is blended with other varietals such as Garnacha (Grenache), Mazuelo, and Graciano, recently we are seeing a surge of pure Tempranillo wines coming out of the woodwork. As its popularity increases, Tempranillo is now being grown in California, Australia, and South America.

What I love about Tempranillo is that when it’s pure, it’s BIG and BOLD. Think of it as Spain’s answer to Cabernet. Tempranillo is medium to full bodied and rich. You get hints of dark fruit, such as cherries and plums, tobacco, leather, strawberries, and herbs. Higher end Tempranillos are aged in oak barrels, so there’s often an oaky presence going on as well. Tempranillo is higher in acidity and lower in alcohol content.You can easily sip it just for the sake of enjoying its complexity, or it makes a great pairing with food. I think it makes an excellent companion to steak or lamb, and you can never go wrong with Tempranillo if you’re enjoying some traditional Spanish tapas.

So yeah, it may be cold--that kind of non-motivating, debilitating, couch ridden, order everything delivery, so as not to leave the house COLD, but there’s nothing like curling up on the couch with a big glass of wine and avoiding it all.


  1. I always thought the name Tempranillo referred to a short fermenting period for that type of grape. Clearly, I completely made that up in my head.

  2. Sometimes the greatest facts are the created ones. My editor once told me that. The man was drunk on ether and opium, but I still think he had good opinions on such matters.