Tempranillo: the prolific king of the red wine scene across Spain. Here Tempranillo is best known for the two great sub-regions of Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Both of which are where Tempranillo truly comes into its own. Tempranillo is quite a thick-skinned grape varietal so it needs that really hot climate that Spain has to offer. This also enables it to get those tannins really ripe and therefore producing some really rich and brooding dry red wines.

But this grapes variety isn’t just found in Spain though, it’s planted in Portugal, particularly in the Duoro Valley. There it’s known as ‘Tinta Roriz’ and it can be used in the famous fortified wines of Port.

If you taste it, you will find that it has these beautiful aromatics and, especially in its youth, it got these lovely, bright red cherry, red plums, and red currant fruit flavors. As it ages, you’ll start to see a real savory and leathery note coming through. As well as in the ripest years of years Tempranillo will have this lovely, rich and brooding boysenberry, blackberry, and black currant fruit flavor coming through on both the nose and the palate.

Tempranillo can stay in a bottle in your cellars for at least 10, 15, even 20 years because it does have quite a high acid and quite tannic structure as well, which enables this long age ability. As it does age, you’ll start to find more caramelized and nutty flavors as well as a bit more of a toasty and savory, and earthiness as well.

So Tempranillo really is one of the more interesting grape varietals out there in the world.

Photo credit: Mick Stephenson