About Tempranillo Wine
Rioja is perhaps the world's most recognised red wine style. Everyone knows what it tastes like: sweet, strawberry fruit flavours, lots of oak and a creamy, vanilla ice-cream finish, thanks to the aforementioned oak.
Tempranillo is the grape that forms the bedrock of this famous wine. Indeed, it's the base grape for nearly all of Spain's best-known reds.
In truth, Tempranillo doesn't do overly well alone, needing additions of Cabernet, Garnacha or Mazuelo to help it to come into its own. But it does have the advantage of standing up quite well to long ageing in wood, one of the key principles of the production of Rioja.
It's grown outside Spain, but in such tiny amounts that it's almost negligible, with neighbouring Portugal being the only other real fan of the grape. There it is known as Tinta Roriz and is one of the five principal varieties used to produce Port.
Where do I find it? Spain, Portugal, California.
What does it taste like? Pure, pure strawberry fruit flavours. A young Tempranillo given a little bit of wood aging is like dipping into a bowl of strawberries and cream. As it ages, you get some slightly leathery liquorice flavours working their way in.
Tell me something I didn't know: The name comes from the Spanish term 'temprana', meaning early-which is ironic when you consider that most of the Spanish I know are wonderfully, but chronically, late.