Have a Drink: Tempranillo Wine

Tempranillo

Tempranillo wines are surprisingly tasty and affordable

Tempranillo red wine | Relampago’s Rating: Star16Star16Star16Star16StarBW16

Spanish Tempranillo wine is made from a black grape that makes full-bodied wines. It’s name derives from “temprano” which means the grape ripens earlier than many other varietals. For some time, Tempranillo was thought to be related to Pinot Noir. (My other favorite wine.) However, genetic studies have shown no link between the two grapes. Like Merlot, it is more neutral in its profile so it is often blended with other wines. However, my experiences with Tempranillo have shown me it’s a quality drink by itself: Tempranillo is a smooth and even semi-sweet red wine.

The $6 bottles of Palacio de Anglona Tempranillo I have been buying are jammy with notes of vanilla. They aren’t as dry as other wines, and in some ways they reminded me of some Italian wines I like.

Here’s some more about the history of this varietal:

It is possible that this grape was introduced to America by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 17th century, as certain Criolla varieties in Argentina have a closer genetic relationship to Tempranillo than to a small handful of other European varieties against which the Criolla varieties were tested. Despite its apparent fragility, Tempranillo travelled widely during the 20th century and, following much trial and error, has become established throughout the world. In 1905, Frederic Bioletti brought Tempranillo to California where it received a cool reception not only due to the encroaching era of Prohibition, but also because of the grape’s dislike of hot, dry climates. It was much later, during the 1980s, that Californian Tempranillo wine production began to flourish, following the establishment of suitably mountainous sites. Production in this area has more than doubled since 1993.

During the 1990s, Tempranillo started experiencing a renaissance in wine production worldwide. This surge began partly as a result of the efforts of a ‘new wave’ of Spanish growers who showed that it was possible to produce wines of great character and quality in areas outside of the Rioja region. One result of this has been that Tempranillo varietal wines have become more common, especially in the better-suited, cooler Spanish regions like Ribera del Duero, Navarra, and Penedès. During the 1990s, growers in Australia and South Africa started significant Tempranillo plantations.

Aromas of Tempranillo wine are usually that of grape jam (with the bottles I have been buying). Other aromas include berries, plum, tobacco, and vanilla. Often referred to as Spain’s noble grape, my recent experience with Tempranillo wine has been a positive one. I even like it better than some of the French wines available at our local retailer.

It goes great with some edam cheese and a Cuban cigar. Usually 2 or 3 pours are enough to get me “in the zone” thanks to the high alcohol content of most red wines. This type of wine is great to sip on at the beach, at home or anywhere else. Try a bottle this weekend.

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