Time to talk about Tempranillo.
We have got to talk about Tempranillo. We have several in the Wine Shop right now, and I couldn’t resist sharing a few facts about Tempranillo along with those great wines. Tempranillo has so many facets and such an incredibly long history. It’s one of my favorite wines to have with a steak, and many are great by themselves. Hailing from Spain, where proof of winemaking and drinking dates back to 800 BC, Tempranillo has a deep history in Spanish culture. The Phoenicians are the ones who are thought to have actually brought Tempranillo to Spain, having been the ones to bring wine into southern Spain. Currently, over 80% of the world’s Tempranillo is found in Spain with 20% grown in other countries including the US, Australia, Portugal and Argentina. Weird little fact: in Spain alone, Tempranillo goes by a BUNCH of different names including: Tinto del Toro, Tinto del Pais and Tinto Fina.
Tempranillo can vary in color quite a lot. This is mostly affected by the aging process that we will get into later on. It can range from a more purple and darker ruby color to a somewhat browni-ish, lighter red. To me, you can look at Tempranillo as being Spain’s Cabernet, kind of. They at least have many similar flavor characteristics like cherry, leather, tobacco and, vanilla. With Tempranillo, the cherry and leather aspects are often in somewhat of a competition with one another. Tempranillo can also have many other fruit qualities like tomato, plum and dried fig. Other characteristics, often imparted by the aging process, can include cedar, clove and, my personal favorite, dill. Typically, there is an appeal to finding balance between the more fruit driven aspects and the earthier parts of the wine. Along with that there are pretty pronounced tannins making this a “dry” wine in most instances.
Another really cool thing about Tempranillo is the care and time the vineyards take to age the wine before they consider releasing it to the public for consumption. There are 4 different aging levels of Tempranillo in Spain that are regulated by the government. The first is wine, rarely found outside the country, is the “villages” level wine of Vin Joven. They are young and rarely oaked whatsoever. The next along is the Crianza wine meaning it is aged 6 months in oak and then at least another 18 months in bottle, typically using the stronger American Oak. The next level in aging requirements is Reserva where the wine is held in oak for one year and then in bottle for a minimum of 2 years, creating a rich and round quality. The final level of aging standards for Tempranillo in Spain is Gran Reserva which means that the wine was aged for a minimum of 5 years total before being released to the consumer. At least 18 months of that must be spent in aging in oak with most producers actually leaving their wine in barrels for up to 30 months to achieve their goals.
We currently have some outstanding Tempranillo in the Wine Shop. Here are a few of our favorites!!
2014 Finca Martelo Rioja Reserva $39.99
The nose reveals very intense red fruit, raspberries, cherries and cranberries, enveloping balsamic and spicy aging notes: vanilla, licorice, dark chocolate and cloves. Outstanding freshness and balance in the mouth, coupling a pleasant acidity with silky, fatty tannins that give it a good structure and a pleasant mouthfeel. Long, well-balanced aftertaste, promising great persistence over time as it ages in the bottle. The structure and elegance of the Martelo 2014 makes it a perfect food companion. Long in the mouth, it is perfect with braised and roasted meats, as well as game and cured sausages. Blend: 95% Tempranillo and 5% Mazuelo.
2014 Vina Real Rioja Reserva $39.99
High and persistent aromatic intensity, highlighting the forest fruits in jam. Also licorice, very typical from the variety, all well assembled with the roasted aromas coming from aging in barrels as spices and balsamic. In the mouth it presents itself as a structured wine, with body and vigorous tannins very present and well rounded.
2011 Cune Rioja Gran Reserva
A classic Gran Reserva Rioja with exceptional purity of fruit. Fantastic balance and elegance from its five year maturation period. Intense dark cherry colour. Attractive aromas of blackberries, blackcurrants and raspberries, blended together with hints of spice and vanilla. Complex and elegant on the palate with fine tannins and a good length.
94 pts. James Suckling … A very powerful CUNE with so much blackberry, fresh mushroom and floral character. Big and tannic yet so polished at the same time. Even structure. It shows wonderful potential for ageing.
2009 La Rioja Alta S.A. Gran Reserve 904
Highly complex nose with a creamy bouquet and spicy notes of cinnamon, vanilla, powder chocolate, snuff box and a background of undergrowth that lead to stewed red fruit and cherry liqueur. Tasty in the mouth, with good texture, balanced and fresh on the palate with elegant, tamed tannins. Outstandingly long, persistent and refined finish with notes of sweet tobacco, cedar and spice, cherry liqueur and coffee caramel aftertaste. A classic Rioja which stands out for its freshness and great bottle aging potential.
95 pts. Robert Parker … Cherry-red with a ruby rim; clean, bright and lively. Highly complex nose with a creamy bouquet and spicy notes of cinnamon, vanilla, powder chocolate, snuff box and a background of undergrowth that lead to stewed red fruit and cherry liqueur. Tasty in the mouth, with good texture, balanced and fresh on the palate with elegant, tamed tannins. Outstandingly long, persistent and refined finish with notes of sweet tobacco, cedar and spice, cherry liqueur and coffee caramel aftertaste.
Come stop by the shop and see what Crianza Tempranillo tastes like and then take home a bottle of Reserva or Gran Reserva to explore the differences! See you soon!