Tempranillo Tinto, more commonly called Tempranillo is a variety with a not completely clear origin.

It is a black grape well known for producing some really nice wines, originally from Spain and Portugal, and now increasingly from other countries as well. The Tempra­nil­lo grape is rath­er low in aci­di­ty and me­di­um in
tan­nins, having led to it often being used in blends, for example in

Tempranillo is well suited for oak maturation, leading to many wines being characterised also by vanilla.

Spanish Tempranillo wines are different depending on how long they have been allowed to mature.

  • A Joven is very young, hence it is very unlikely that it has matured in oak
  • A Crianza red wine has matured for twenty-four months, out of which at least six in oak
  • A Reserva red wine has matured for thirty-six months, out of which at least twelve in oak
  • A Gran Reserva red wine has matured for sixty months, out of which at least eighteen in oak

Where to look for a really good Tempranillo dry varietal wine? The regions to look for are Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Toro, Penedès, and Navarra (neighbouring to Rioja), are some examples.

To experience the best expressions of Tempranillo, look for wines where the grapes have grown on some altitude.

Food pairing
Tempranillo will pair excellently with dishes made from various kinds of meet, e.g. pork, lamb, and beef. A good rule of the thumb is “the younger the wine, the lighter the meet”. A Joven and a Crianza can be served at 14-16°C/57-61°F. If the wine is a Reserva or a Gran Reserva, it is most likely a good idea to serve it at 16-18°C/ /61-64°F.

Where is it grown?
Tempranillo is with its 232.544 ha/574,628 ac, the fourth most planted grape on the planet (beaten by Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Airén). It seems to also be a popular variety. Not only is it reported to be planted in seventeen countries, the world wide planted area increased between 2000 and 2010 with 152%.

There’s no competition as to in which country it has the largest acreage. Even if almost all regions report of plantings, half of the reported acreage is found in four regions, with one region, Castille-La Mancha, holding one quarter of the country’s acreage.

  • Castille-La Mancha 64.901 ha/160.373 ac (a threefold increase)
  • Rioja 31.747 ha/78.449 ac (a 65% increase)
  • Extremadura 21.419 ha/52,928 ac (a twenty-fold increase)
  • Ribera del Duero 15.348 ha/37,926 ac (a doubling of the acreage)

Area-wise, Castille-La Mancha is a large wine region. Furthermore, the density of plantings is low due to the difficulty for the vines to have access to water. It might therefore not be a completely “fair” comparison.

  • Spain 207.677 ha/513,181 ac (an increase with 162%), MPG 2, PTPA 20%
  • Portugal 16.706 ha/41,281 ac (an increase with 127%), MPG 1, PTPA 10%
  • Argentina 6.120 ha/15,124 ac (an increase with 41%), MPG 12, PTPA 3%
  • France 680 ha/1,680 ac (a decrease with 56%), MPG 67, PTPA <0,1%
  • Australia 476 ha/1,176 ac (a one-hundred fold increase) MPG 25, PTPA 0,3%
  • USA 414 ha/1,023 ac (an increase with 106%) MPG 36, PTPA 0,2%

Furthermore, in the future we can expect to drink Tempranillo wines from other parts of the world as well. Small or very small areas planted with the variety is reported from Mexico, Romania, Chile, South Africa, Italy, Greece, Brazil, Turkey, New Zealand, Canada, and Thailand.

Tempranillo is most likely an old variety. How old is however difficult to establish as it shares synonyms with a couple of other Spanish varieties. It is recognised as a variety of Spanish origin, and it is quite clear that it comes from the Iberian Peninsula. However, due to the confusion with other grapes, it is very difficult to be more exact than this. It has for example been documented as Tinta Roriz in Portugal for centuries