Degustation #242 June 28, 2022, 12:30pm Spanish Tempranillo Wines
To learn about the Tempranillo grape variety grown in Spain and to taste four (4) Tempranillo wines produced with different maturation methods: Joven, Crianza, Reserva and Grand Reserva.
– Plate of salad, Serrano ham and salami.
– Ravioli in tomato sauce.
– Broiled stake and broiled vegetables.
– Plate of cheeses.
1. Vecordia Ribera Del Duero Roble, 2020 Joven, (Vecordia).
2. Asua Rioja, 2016, Crianza, (Asua).
3. Marques De Cáceres, 2016, Rioja, Reserva, (Marqués de Cáceres).
4. Latitud 42, 2010, Rioja Gran Reserva (Latitude 42).
Tarcello Averbug; Jorge Claro; Ruth Connolly; Clara Estrada; Jaime Estupiñán; Michelle Fryer; Agilson Perazza; Claudia Perazza; John Redwood; Lucía Redwood; Jorge Requena; Jairo Sánchez; and German Zincke.
About Tempranillo: Grapes, Wine, Region, and Pairings
Learn about Tempranillo: Grapes, Wine, Region, and Pairings, written by the Master Class staff.
Last updated: Aug 4, 2021. By James Suckling:
- What Is Tempranillo?
- What Is the History of the Tempranillo Grape?
- What Are the Characteristics of Tempranillo?
- Where Is Tempranillo Grown?
- What Kinds of Wines Are Made With the Tempranillo Grape?
- What Are the Classifications of Tempranillo Wine?
- What Does Tempranillo Taste Like?
- How Do You Pair and Serve Tempranillo Wine?
What Is Tempranillo?
Tempranillo is a red grape variety that is the third most-planted wine grape in the world. It is especially popular in Spain, where it is the primary grape of the red wines of Rioja. Because it is often blended with other grapes, tempranillo does not have the name recognition of other famous red grapes like merlot or pinot noir, but it has a long history in Spain of making complex, long-lived wines.
Tempranillo is the main grape of the famous, lush, American-oak aged reds of Rioja, Spain. Spanish wines have long been among the best values in the world, and tempranillo-based wines, with years of age, can be found for a fraction of the price of similarly pedigreed wines from Bordeaux or Napa.
What Is the History of the Tempranillo Grape?
Tempranillo is an old grape, dating back to at least the ninth century. Tempranillo originated in the Iberian Peninsula and the vast majority of plantings are still in Spain, although it is also an essential component of the Port wines of Portugal. Tempranillo has spread to Spanish-influenced new world wine regions like Mexico and California. Tempranillo’s name likely comes from the Spanish temprano, meaning “early,” as the grape ripens a few weeks before other grapes in Spain.
What Are the Characteristics of Tempranillo?
Tempranillo grapes have moderately thin skins which result in a ruby-colored wine. Tempranillo is medium-bodied on its own as a single varietal, but it is often blended with garnacha, mazuelo, and graciano grapes to make a more full-bodied wine. Tempranillo has low-to-medium acidity and smooth tannins. Tempranillo wines are usually moderate in alcohol. The best examples of tempranillo can age for decades.
Where Is Tempranillo Grown?
Tempranillo is a hardy, productive, and adaptable vine that likes sandy, chalky, clay or limestone soils. Although it does well in hot weather, tempranillo can also withstand climates cooler than many other Spanish red grapes.
- Northern Spain. Tempranillo is well-suited to the slightly cooler, high altitude areas of La Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa in central northern Spain. Northern Spain is also home to warmer areas that have a large diurnal temperature difference (difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures), which allows tempranillo grapes to ripen while hanging on to their acidity, which is naturally on the low side. Northern regions where Tempranillo thrives include Navarra (adjacent to Rioja); Toro, where it is called tinta de toro; and Ribera del Duero, where it is called tinto fino. Tempranillo is also found in Catalonia on Spain’s border with France, where it is called ull de llebre.
- Central Spain. South of Rioja, in the central Spanish wine regions near Madrid, tempranillo is called cencibel. Unlike many Spanish red grapes, tempranillo does not accumulate too much alcohol in warm climates, so it can be grown in hot areas like Valdepeñas in La Mancha, where it is often blended with late-ripening cabernet sauvignon.
- Portugal. Tempranillo is the most planted grape in Portugal, where it is known as tinta roriz(in the Dão and Douro regions) or aragonês (further south in Alentejo). The tempranillo grape is, along with touriga nacional and touriga franca, one of the main grapes used in the production of Port, Portugal’s historically significant fortified wine.
Because of its adaptability to various temperatures and soils, growers are experimenting and having success with tempranillo grown in newly popular regions such as Texas, Monterey in California, and in northern Mexico.
What Kinds of Wines Are Made With the Tempranillo Grape?
Although rare varietal wines made from tempranillo do exist, the grape is most often made into a blended red wine. In Rioja, tempranillo is the primary grape used in a blend that also includes mazuelo (also known as carignan), garnacha, and graciano. Those grapes all work to add body and structure to the tempranillo.
Some producers in Rioja are making rosé from the tempranillo grape, but this is a relatively new phenomenon.
In Portugal, tempranillo is used to make Port, where it is blended with the red grapes touriga nacional and touriga franca and then fortified. These range in color from deep ruby to tawny depending on age, but all are sweet and high in alcohol.
What Are the Classifications of Tempranillo Wine?
The most expensive and ageworthy tempranillo wines are made in Rioja. The Rioja DO (denominación de origen) wines are classified by the length of time they have spent aging, rather than a classification based on vineyard sites like in Burgundy. The best producers will age their wines longer than the minimums required by the Consejo Regulador, the group that governs the DO classification system. Wines from Rioja labeled “Joven,” or young, have not spent time in barrel and are not part of the classification system.
These aging requirement are:
- Crianzawines are aged for a minimum of one year in barrel followed by one year in bottle.
- Reservawines are aged for at least one year in barrel, followed by bottle aging that brings the total aging to at least three years before the wine is released.
- Gran Reservawines are aged for a minimum of two years in barrel and three years in bottle before leaving the winery. These wines are ready to drink upon release but can age for decades longer.
What Does Tempranillo Taste Like?
Unfortified wines made from tempranillo are almost always dry. Tempranillo is known for its plush texture and complex aromas and flavors that range from savory to fruity to woody.
Some of tempranillo’s savory notes include:
- Tobacco leaves
Tempranillo’s fruit profile tends toward ripe red fruits, like:
Tempranillo is often aged in American rather than French oak barrels, which give it strong aromas of:
- Dill pickles
Fortified wines made with tempranillo, such as Port, are strong and sweet, with flavors of nuts and caramel or chocolate and berries, depending on the style.
How Do You Pair and Serve Tempranillo Wine?
It’s hard to go wrong with food pairings and tempranillo. The wine’s savory smoothness and fruity finish complement a wide variety of dishes, from grilled meat to tomato sauce-based dishes to paella. Tempranillo’s moderate tannin and acidity can harmonize with spice-laden foods too. At a dinner with multiple pairings, serve tempranillo before more structured reds like cabernet sauvignon. Aged Rioja can be a surprising match with nutty cheeses like aged gouda, which bring out its caramel and truffle notes.
Wines of This Degustation
- Vecordia Ribera Del Duero Roble, 2020, (Vecordia).
One hundred per cent Tempranillo red from Ribera del Duero, Spain- Violet-red. Spicy redcurrant and cherry aromas are complicated by cracked pepper, violet and dried rose; very complex for its price point. Supple red fruit flavors are quite sweet, with no obvious tannins. Rated 90+ by Beverage Dynamics. Elegant. ABV: 14.1%, Taste: Spice, Cherry, Medium-bodied.
2. Asua Rioja Crianza, 2016 (Asua).
Wine Advocate 92 -Rioja, Spain – “”…The oak is very subtle and in the background with some spices. It’s aromatic and has a lot of finesse. The palate is juicy and balanced, with the same freshness found in the nose and a dry, serious and chalky finish. Delicious. I love it…””. ABV: 13.5%; Taste: Black Fruit, Wood, Spice, Medium-bodied.
Asua was born as a tribute to the founders of Compania Vinicola del Norte de España CVNE, the Real de Asúa brothers. It’s a classic Rioja from a 5th generation family of winemakers that continues to receive critical acclaim and high ratings.
Every wine made at CVNE symbolizes what’s most important to them—tradition, quality and innovation. Their packaging represents the authenticity and origin of CVNE by using an image of the old winery.
Maria Larrea has been the Technical Director at CVNE since 2006. That’s not her only role though as she is also responsible for overseeing the production of Asua, from the vineyards to the development of each wine. Maria grew up surrounded by wine and became a licensed Winemaker.
Asua pairs well with a range of dishes, from red meats to leafy green salads. It’s ideal for sharing at dinner parties and is a great gift for any wine lover in your life.
3. Marqués De Cáceres Rioja, Reserva,2016 (Marqués de Cáceres).
Rioja, Spain- This complex Tempranillo blend offers spicy, earthy aromas with blackberry and red fruits following on the palate. It is well-balanced with a terrific mouthfeel. Style: Elegant; Taste: Blackberry, Medium-bodied, ABV: 14 %.
RESERVA 2016 D.O.Ca. RIOJA Made exclusively from the best vintages GRAPE VARIETIES 90% Tempranillo, 10% other varieties OENOLOGISTS, THE TRADITIONAL WINES RANGE Fernando Costa, Emilio González and Manuel Iribarnegaray VINEYARDS AND YIELDS A selection of old vineyards originating from Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa. Low yields, smaller than 5,000 kg/ha. TERRAIN Fundamentally clay-limestone. Plots of Rioja Alta with ferrous subsoil. 2016 VINTAGE Abundant rainfall, specially before sprouting, led to a favorable start of the phenological cycle with a plentiful water reserve. A dry and harsh summer. During September a rise in temperature and hours of sunshine in the midst of ripening, enabled a complete and balanced harvest, producing musts rich in sugars and polyphenolic structure. Vineyards with generous yields reaching optimum ripening without problem. Complete maturing throughout the year, with high alcohol levels, excellent notes of fruit. These wines from selected plots boast a great capacity for ageing. GRAPE HARVEST Harvested by hand, meticulously deciding the optimal harvesting moment for each plot and each variety. VINIFICATION Bunches are de-stemmed of their stalks with the greatest care. Temperature controlled alcoholic fermentation. Prolonged maceration with the skins with the aim of extracting more color, elegant aromas and smooth enveloping tannic structure. Malolactic fermentation in oak barrels and a stainless-steel tanks. Once the malolactic fermentation is finalized, all of the wines move to fine grain French oak barrels. Subsequent racking every 6 months. TOTAL TIME IN BARREL 15 months in French oak barrels, equally divided between new barrels and one and two-year old barrels with 5 monthly racking. REFINEMENT IN BOTTLE Minimum 2 years before its market launch. TASTING NOTES Dark and dense ruby color. Refined and complex aroma with a touch of cherry, vanilla and soft toasted notes. Balanced in the mouth, where the silky and well-defined tannins are combined with exquisite flavors to reveal a pleasant fullness. This Reserve firmly reflects the profile of the Bodegas previous vintages, awarded with several prestigious prizes. Serve at 17ºC.
Winery: Marques de Caceres
In 1970, Enrique Forner founded Marqués de Cáceres, Unión Vitivinícola, S.A., a historic Alliance between a region (Cenicero, La Rioja Alta), an enterprising family that has been devoted to the wine trade for five generations, the best vine growers and vineyards in La Rioja and a Bordeaux concept which revolutionized the production and business model with a single objective: the quality to obtain the best wines, an obsession that today continues to be the leitmotiv of Cristina Forner, the third generation of this distinguished wine family.
Enrique Forner, Cristina’s father, worked in the wine trade as a boy. In 1920, his grandfather and his father founded ‘Vinícola Forner’, a family business devoted to the production, sale and exportation of wines in Sagunto (Valencia).
Exiled in France due to the Civil War, Enrique founded a similar business in 1952, in the Rhône and Loire valleys (France), and in 1963 he bought two chateaux grands crus classés in the Haut Medoc region (Bordeaux), Château Camensac and Château Larose Trintaudon, convinced that he would be able to make some of the world’s finest wines.
He returned to Spain in 1968 and, given that a century before wine-producers and merchants from Bordeaux had chosen La Rioja when fleeing the phylloxera plague, he opted for La Rioja and Cenicero, in the heart of the La Rioja Alta sub-region, to continue his great dream.
Enrique Forner turned to his friend, Professor Emile Peynaud, a true revolutionary of winegrowing and winemaking in Bordeaux in the 1970s and 1980s, in order to steep La Rioja in the same reformist spirit.
At least five generations linked to wine forged the family spirit of Marqués de Cáceres. Enrique Forner, who founded the winery in 1970, learnt the wine trade from his father, who in turn had learnt from his father and grandfather (‘Wine producer Forner’), interrupted in Spain by a period of exile during the Civil War. Cristina Forner, his daughter, key to the internationalisation of Marqués de Cáceres, manages the winery with the pride and experience of one of the great Spanish families for which high-quality wine has never known boundaries, Marqués de Cáceres wines being present in over 120 countries.
A deep conviction in the ideas assimilated by Enrique Forner in France and transferred to La Rioja from 1970 onwards, means that they continue to be the pillars on which Cristina Forner rests Marqués de Cáceres. A spirit based on the production of high-quality wines, that is continually evolving with an established policy of investing in technology and innovation, but indifferent to the passing fashions which distort winemaking from time to time and lose sight of the fundamental objective of this business: offering the consumer a wine that they can enjoy and share with their friends and loved ones, as seamlessly and consistently as the history of Marqués de Cáceres.
The name of the winery was given by an old friend of the family D. Forner Vicente Noguera Espinosa de los Monteros, Marqués de Cáceres and Grande de España.
The marquesado has its origins in the XVIII century and was granted by the King of Spain to the Captain of the Royal Spanish Navy Don Juan Ambrosio García de Cáceres and Montemayor in gratitude for his outstanding services to the Crown in the war of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The current Marqués de Cáceres, D .Juan Noguera is still attached to the Bodega.
4. Latitud 42, Rioja Gran Reserva, 2010 (Latitude 42).
Wine Enthusiast 91 -Rioja, Spain- “Ripe berry aromas are oaky and include a note of woody vanilla. On the palate, this is tight and has a resiny texture from extended barrel aging. Oak-heavy flavors of vanilla and berries finish with chocolate and a medicinal hint.”
Latitud 42’s wines represent the long, multi-generational legacy of its winemaking family and the traditions of Rioja, Spain. The altitude and unique terrain of the vineyards give Tempranillo grapes a natural vibrancy and finesse that only improves with aging.
Latitud 42’s collection of Riojas is rich in dark fruit flavors with hints of chocolate, tobacco and spice. Whether you need a wine to pair with dinner or just crave a taste of Spain, these highly expressive red wines offer the perfect sips.
Winery: El Bodega Latitud 42 de Rioja
La Bodega Latitud 42 is one of the Rioja area. They offer 8 de vines for sale, all of them from Rioja. In situ and on-line sales are available.
Assessment of the Wines
Which one would you abstain from? Wine or women?
I need to know the year.