What’s in My Glass? Tempranillo

Having some serious writers’ block trying to get a few words typed out to squarely describe the love affair I’m having (and have been having for years) with Spain’s most noble grape.

Every memory I have of Tempranillo, primarily from Rioja–the region in North Eastern Spain that turned Tempranillo into a seductress on the world scene–involves three things: warmth, body, and masculine energy.

Hopefully, these provide a hint at the vibe I’m trying to convey about this deeply hued juice.




Native to spain, this dark-skinned grape has been being produced for centuries, bottled on its own or often as the dominant variety in red blends. Though it’s grown across the Iberian Peninsula, the best examples come from Rioja and Ribera Del Duero–great bottles of which can be snapped up for under $20 (WIN). In recent years it’s become popular internationally and is now grown across the globe.

In essence, Tempranillo is bold.  It’s chewy, it’s fruit/leather/beef jerky/tobacco and smooth all at the same time.  It’s one of those wines produced in a wide variety of styles (young/more oak/less oak etc.) and rocks it in every one.

Cosecha is a Spanish wine term for young, barely oaked wines, and in this category I tried thePeñamonte 5 Meses from the Toro wine region. It was a bright ruby, and totally transparent (unlike heavily aged Tempranillo) and had tart red berry flavors, with a distinct cranberry note on the end. Ripe and bright, it was tasty and fun.

Crianza is next on the Spanish labeling ladder, which categories vino by how long it’s aged in oak and bottle before being released to the public when it’s ready to drink.  A great example I tried wasPuerta Vieja Crianza 2009 from Bodegas Riojana in Rioja. This one had a fantastic red cherry aroma that carried through across my mouth. It wasn’t overly complicated, but was great for sipping and would be ideal with grilled veggies drizzled with olive oil or simple tapas.

The Viña Albina Reserva 2005, also from Rioja, really showed the aging difference more than the younger two wines. This one had a dark crimson color, with super-earthy aromas and hints of dried fruit. On the palate, it was full-bodied and smooth to a luscious degree. (Ahem, like the guy with the wine glass…)


Tempranillo Uncorked:

Laura Loves: Cuddling up with a glass of Tempranillo and a sexy Spanish guy.

Pairing Reservas with a simple saugsage and white bean soup like this one for an easy, super-satisfying supper.

Fun Facts: Tempranillo is one of the grapes used to make Port wine in Portugal.

Tempranillo has been grown on the Iberian Peninsula since the Phoenicians.

Perfect Pairings: Reserva wines & roasted lamb (fall-off-the-bone lamb + red seduction? I think yes).

Crianza or Reservas with manchego cheese, olives, other tapas. (They go together like a wink and a smile.)

Tempranillo in 140 Characters: Ripe cherry 2 sexy leather/beef jerky/tobacco, rustic @times, smooth in all the right places, tons of style from w/ grilled meats 2 tapas.


  • December 3, 2012
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