Five Things You Didn’t Know About Tempranillo

Learn five things every wine lover should know about this lusty Spanish grape.

There’s no doubt about it, Tempranillo is the signature wine grape of Spain. From Rioja to Navarra, and from Ribera del Duero through Toro, La Mancha and the Penedès, it’s the grape that defines Spanish red wine. (It can also be found in countries including Portugal, Argentina and the United States, among others.)

On November 8, the world celebrated International Tempranillo Day, and in light of this global call-out, we offer five things every wine lover should know (but just might not) about this lusty Spanish grape.

1. It’s very, very old. Tempranillo is indigenous to Spain and dates back to before the time of Christ. It’s been grown on the Iberian Peninsula since the Phoenicians settled it in 1100 B.C.

2. It’s an early bird. Tempranillo is derived from the word temprano, which in Spanish means “early.” Among red varieties in Spain, it’s considered an early ripener.

3. It has many monikers. Tempranillo goes by more than a dozen different names around the world, depending on where it’s cultivated. It’s called Tinto Fino in Ribera del Duero, Tinta de Toro in Toro, Ull de Llebre in Catalonia, Cencibel in La Mancha and Tinto Roriz in Portugal.

4. It’s cloned. There are about 500 clones of Tempranillo in Spain alone; Tinto Fino and Tinta de Toro are the best-known.

5. It has a white mutant. Although rare, albino Tempranillo does exist in Rioja. It’s an approved wine grape; it yields a citrusy, rather simple wine akin to Viognier in weight, flavor and overall style.

Read reviews of the latest Tempranillos in the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide.

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