Tempranillo Guide


The great Spanish variety flourishes in the excellent powerful red wines of Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Under the name Tinta Roriz, Tempranillo is also used to make the greatest red wines of Portugal like the port wines.

This thick-skinned red grape needs warm sunny days to reach its full ripening and cool nights to keep its natural acidity. The vigorous vines have to be wildly prune to yield a high quality fruit. The variety ripens early in the year that explains its name, temprano meaning early in Spanish. Tempranillo is harvested and fermented a few weeks before Grenache, its usual blending partner. Thanks to its short life circle, the variety is not affect by the harsh climatic conditions of its growing regions.

Tempranillo grape does not have a high concentration of acid so it can be cultivated on a wide array of sites. But its growing depends deeply on the diurnal temperature variation. There is a high number of bland mediocre Tempranillo wines on the market.

Tempranillo Caracteristics

This grape variety gives to the Iberian wines their luxurious texture and vibrant color. These    full-bodied tannic wines develop a wide range of flavors, from red fruit to plum, chocolate and tobacco, combined with spicy notes. With age, the best wines reveal vanilla and leather aromas. The jovenes wines have more flavors of fresh red fruits like strawberry and cherry.

Tempranillo integrates well the oak flavors. Rioja winemakers are used to employ American oak to add vanilla and coconut notes in the wines. In Ribera del Duero, French oak is more used to develop its spicy flavors.

Where to find the best Tempranillo wines

In Spain, Ribera del Duero wines indicate Tempranillo as Tinto Fino. These wines deliver on the palate generous flavors of blackberry and notes of butter and blackcurrant. The blend wines of Rioja are full-bodied, with medium acidity and tannins and red fruits aromas. The great wines develop with age notes of tobacco and leather.

In Portugal, the variety is named Tinta Roriz in the Douro region and Aragonês in the South wine region of Alentejo. The Douro red wines have a beautiful balance between strong tannins and lovely flavors of raspberry, blackberry and flowers. In Alentejo, the new generation of producers are making a young fruity and spicy wine dominated by the bright plum, with smooth tannins and a light acidity.