This is the most popular grape to be grown in Spain, and a central part of the country’s best red wines. Around 183,500 hectares of Tempranillo were growing across Spain in 2004. It is most famously used in the Rioja blend, alongside Garnacha/Grenache, Mazuelo/Carignan, Graciano and Viura. Today, it features in vineyards across almost all Spanish regions. There has been a recent surge in Tempranillo growth and consumption across the world, but it is thought to have first been introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by the Phoenicians. The name comes from the Spanish word temprano, which means “early”. This is due to the grape’s early ripening, which takes place several weeks before grapes with which it is often blended, for example, Garnacha/Grenache.
Tempranillo often has notes of strawberries, leather and tobacco, but much of its characteristics come from the management of its yields and the vinification process. Until recently, it was generally made with oak barrels, but producers have since moved away from this method so as to encourage the natural characteristics to come to prominence.