The world’s most widely planted wine grapes: No. 3 – Tempranillo
Continuing our Top 5 red wine grapes of 2014, at number three is a grape that is not so well known, but a major constituent of a very famous wine, the Spanish Rioja. Tempranillo has 202,000 hectares planted worldwide.
Tempranillo – 202,000 hectares
Tempranillo is Spanish for “little early one”, due to the fact it is the first of the Spanish wine grapes to ripen out of the harvest. It is predominantly grown in its native Spain. It thrives best in a climate with hot sunny days allowing the thick-skinned fruit to ripen fully and cold nights, which allow for a balance of the grape’s acidity. That is why Australia and Argentina are excellent for cultivating Tempranillo due to the year round warm weather.
Tempranillo produces a wine with cherry and plums notes, sometimes tomato-ragu flavours and a leathery and vanilla nose. Despite this the grape has a neutral profile with medium tannins and medium acidity. Due to this it is often used in a blend making up the majority of a Spanish Rioja. Popular blends include such partners as Grenache, Carnigan and Cabernet Sauvignon and a Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Tempranillo 3-way blend found in the Casa Gualda Tempranillo-Cabernet-Merlot.
High Street find – 2011 Llebre Tinto, Costers del Segre at £8.99 or the Condado De Haza Ribera Del Duero 2009 at £15.00 (currently on special offer) from Sainsbury’s.
Condado De Haza Ribera Del Deuro: Try this dark ruby coloured Tempranillo wine with a lamb dish such as chops and semi-cured goats cheese. Decant or aerate prior to serving to open up this wine’s explosive aromas of dark berry and cherry, with smoky violet accents. Cracked black pepper and vanilla intensify with aeration to carry through to a long, sappy and soft tannic finish.
Next week check back for part 4 of our Top 5 red wine grapes with another grape indigenous to Spain, Grenache.