Tempranillo: Characteristics of the Queen grape of Spain

As we said in previous articles, here at Decantalo we´ve decided to do a mini-tour of the main native Spanish grape varieties.

How could we start with anything other than the grape that best defines our country´s wines and that, furthermore, is the most widely planted red grape in Spain: The Tempranillo.

Rioja Grapes Ryan Opaz

Talking about the Tempranillo grape is synonymous with talking about wine from Rioja, even though it is also the Queen grape in other great wine producing regions such as Ribera del Duero. It´s undeniably the most widely grown red grape in our country (representing 37% of the surface of red grapes planted) and perhaps also the most emblematic.

A clear example of this fact is the great variety of names for the Tempranillo grape which vary depending on the area in which its grown. We will show you some of the most famous, although the complete list would be far too long!

  • Tinta del País in Ribera del Duero
  • Tinta de Toro in Zamora (there will always be debate around this classification)
  • Arauxa in Galicia
  • Arganda or Cencibel, in Castilla La Mancha
  • Ull de Llebre (hare’s eye) in Catalonia

The Tempranillo grape´s characteristics result in very balanced wines with body. Interesting in young wines, and a luxury when they age. It is usually the dominant grape in the majority of blends (85%-90%), accompanied by other varieties like the Grenache, the Mazuelo or the Graciano (10-15%), but if you fancy discovering all of this grape´s expression, we recommend:

Sierra Cantabria Colección Privada 2011, an explosion of fruit with the stamp of quality that comes with all wines made by the Eguren family in the Rioja.

Pago de los Capellanes Crianza 2010, an honest, intense, long and elegant Ribera del Duero wine with a magnificent balance between fruit and wood.

Finca els Camps Ull de Llebre 2007. An example of what the Tempranillo variety is able to give in Mediterranean climates. A solemn, serious red wine from the D.O. Penedés with the guarentee of good production by Jané Ventura winery.

Almírez 2011. Although there is scientific evidence to prove it, not everyone agrees with classifying the Tinta de Toro as Tempranillo. Whatever it is, it doesn´t matter when we´re faced with an Almírez 2011, by Bodega Teso la Monja, one of the wines being hailed vintage after vintage as the standard bearer for the Denomination of Origen Toro.

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