Tempranillo, the most prominent grape in Spain, is one which is pivotal to many of its red wines. Spain long ago discovered the intrigue of this grape. It has been growing there since before Christ. Found primarily in the regions of Ribera del Duero and Rioja, Tempranillo is known to many by a few other names: Tinto Fino, Tinta de Toro, Ull de Llebre, Cencibel, and Tinto Roriz. No matter what name you know Tempranillo by, it has a few key characteristics that make it easy to recognize.
Its most common name Tempranillo gives some indication about the way it grows.
Those who speak Spanish may be able to recognize that Tempranillo looks very similar to another word, temprano, meaning early. Tempranillo is an early riper. This characteristic already makes its production a little more difficult; however, Tempranillo likes to present even more challenges to growers. The vines are vigorous but the grapes skins are not particular tough. This translates to large clusters where rot is something to look out for. California Tempranillo growers must spend a little extra energy watching these grapes, ensuring that they all ripen similarly and the acidity remains at the correct level.
Once it is produced into wine, Tempranillo is medium to full-body with lower acidity, fruit forward flavors, and medium tannin. Known to be more of a savory wine, Tempranillo has aromas of cherry, plum, dried fig, cedar, leather, tobacco, vanilla, dill, and clove. Because it is so savory, it can be paired with a large variety of foods. Some recommendations would include lasagna, pizza, barbecue, grilled meats, grits, polenta, tacos, nachos, burritos.
Tempranillo continues to be a grape of growing popularity, especially in California. Paso Robles is one of the main areas that grows the grape in the U.S. Make sure to try our take on the Rioja blend, Balboa Reserve. Cheers!
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