Tempranillo is Spanish red wine, with Rioja being its showroom.


  • Tempranillo vines were (possibly) originally brought to Spain, as variants of Pinot Noir (Burgundy) or Cabernet Franc (Bordeaux) from monasteries in Northern France by pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. 


  • Ability to withstand low temperatures.
  • Thick skinned, producing wines of deep colour, with an ability to age without losing colour.   
  • Ripens early in late September but needs 450mm rainfall per year and prefers Atlantic rather than Mediterranean influence.
  • Low in acidity, so can produce somewhat characterless wines, hence blended with Garnacha & Graciano to make Rioja.
  • Relatively low (for the heat of Spain) in alcohol.
  • Traditionally trained, ‘en goblet’
  • Prefers deep soil of calcareous or sandy clay, and performs better on slopes 

Vinification / Maturation   

  • Fermentation usually in stainless steel vats and large oak vats.
  • In Rioja barrel maturation takes place, by law, in small Bordeaux style 225l. barrels; oak ageing is an essential element of all styles of Rioja.
  • Some reds occasionally need acidification.
  • Sometimes aged for too long in barrel too reductively


Spain: Rioja, Penedes, Ribera del Duero,Valdepenas, Costers del Segre

Also to be found in  

Portugal, especially Alentejo & Douro, where it is known as Tinta Roriz; Argentina - taken by Spanish emigrants - Australia and California


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