Tempranillo is a wine that’s on the come up. It’s slowly, but surely taking center stage. A good day to get it in is November 9th which is “International Tempranillo Day”.
I had the opportunity to catch up with Ana Fabiano, Rioja’s North American Ambassador and author of the The Wine Region of Rioja. We talked Tempranillo and Rioja… of course:
YS: If a red wine drinker has not tried Tempranillo, which other red wine would it be similar to? What are some foods that would be good to pair the wine with?
AF: Tempranillo is often compared to Pinot Noir, and considered a medium bodied grape variety. Due to its genetic traits and incredible adaptability and happiness in Rioja, young, semi aged, aged and high expression Tempranillos of Rioja are available. Therefore, the different expressions and aged of Tempranillos of Rioja span a wide range of foods from salsas, to grilled meats, hearty fish and various pasta dishes. Tempranillo of Rioja is extraordinarily versatile, and BALANCED.
YS: What’s special about Tempranillo wine?
AF: Tempranillo is a noble grape variety. One with tremendous capability when handled properly and cultivated in a climate that she loves. Having the proven capability of producing young wines and wines with tremendous ageing capability is a lot to ask of one grape and tempranillo of Rioja does it.
YS: Why should people consider visiting Rioja as a wine destination?
AF: Because it is amazing. Rioja is the real deal. It is not a region founded on wealth made in other industries or manufactured tourism. The wine culture is inculcated in the people, vineyards and families and that shines through. It is beautiful, full of hospitable people, easy to drive around or access, and has the incredible monasteries to feed your spiritual core and the greatest concentration of architectural bodegas to have a sensorial, artistic, and environmental experience while sampling Rioja wine.
YS: While Tempranillo is known for being a grape to make red wine…there is an Albino Tempranillo that can be used to make white wine. What’s the scoop on this wine? Do you think more of it will be produced in the future?
AF: Great timely question!! It is radical and sexy. It is a white mutation and has 98% of the genetic markers of temp tinto so the texture and weight of it is similar but the fruit is tropical, round, floral very different than viura which occupies most of our white grape vineyard mass. Vineyard area of tempranillo blanco has almost quadrupled since 2014. Right now we have over 1500 acres of temp blanco. It is astounding and very exciting. We are seeing monovarietal tempranillo blancos in market as well as it blends with other grape varieties which is very cool.-here it behaves similiar to tempranillo- historically working so well with blending but also standing so well on her own two feet as a monovarietal.-just dynamite and it looks like the growers and winemakers are really enjoying this too. The expanding plantings of temp blanco illustrates this.
Tempranillo is the second most widely planted variety in Rioja. The quality and quantity control of tempranillo in Rioja is dissimilar to any other wine region of the world. The most extensive planting of tempranillo in the most diverse terroir is in the DOCa of Rioja.
For more information about Tempranillo Day, go to check out TAPAS- Tempranillo Advocates, Producers and Amigos Society.