Wine of the month – Tempranillo

Over here in Sydney, we’re getting ready to turn our clocks back an hour, pull out our coats and bunker down for the winter.

Mr and Mrs Romance - Wines of the month

Granted, the coats are more just jackets and by ‘bunkering down’ I really mean not eating lunch in the park with your sunnies on. Be that as it may, the Starks are right. Winter is coming.

The best part about this is we can start cracking those bottles of sumptuous reds we’ve been eyeing up as we’ve sweated our way through the summer. But let’s not be too hasty.

Going from crisp savoury rieslings and dry sharp rosés straight into tar pit depths of a shiraz would be madness. Last month we looked at the sprightly pinot noir so you can see we’re taking our time with this one.

Mr and Mrs Romance - Tempranillo

This month (thanks to Sonia of Scribe + Social fame) we’re scratching the surface of the tempranillo grape.

Neither Christina nor I have had much experience with this little fellow – in fact until recently, I thought you pronounced the ‘ll’ in tempranillo. Idiot! It’s “tempraniyo” by the way 🙂

Because I’ve got no clue whatsoever about this variety, the same way Chairman Kaga does in Iron Chef, I will now defer to a higher being.

Saint Andrew of our Wine Saints lived in Spain for many years whilst on his worldly wine mission. His love of the Catalan region has brought him closer to the Tempranillo wine god than our other revered saints – St Peter and St Paul.

Mr and Mrs Romance - Rioja Tempranillo

Therefore, I bring you the grapey preachings of St Andrew:

St Andrew

“Tempranillo is the autochthonous [good word! – Ed.] grape variety at the noble heart of all great Spanish red wine, the most famous of which comes from the tiny La Rioja region in northern Spain.

Rioja is beautiful, approachable and seductive wine that deserves your attention, preferably in the company of jamon iberico, mature Manchego cheese and/or roast or barbecued lamb.

It is, quite simply, de puta madre!

The Rioja spectrum extends from young, unoaked Cosecha wines and Crianza, (1 year in oak, 1 year bottle-aged before release), to Reserva (3 years oak, 1 year bottled) and Gran Reserva (2 years in oak, 3 years bottled). These classifications are stated on the label.

A few good Cosecha and Crianza examples are available at bargain prices, though I recommend paying that little extra for a Reserva of 7 years of age or more for a taste of the real deal.


St Andrew’s recommendations:

Under $20

Cosme Palacio Cosecha – medium bodied, fruit-driven

Marques de Caceres Crianza – alluring ruby red, smooth yet spicy

$25 – $30

El Coto Crianza – supple, beautifully balanced, moreish

Marques de Murrieta Reserva – Complex, leathery. Seriously good value.

Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva $65.00 – Dios mio! Quintessential old school Rioja. Concentrated and profound.

Thanks to St Andrew, Christina and I tried the Marques de Caceres Crianza. I’ve got to say, Andrew’s summary was absolutely right.

Mr and Mrs Romance - Salud

What’s your favourite drop of tempranillo? Do you have a preferred rioja? Tell us what to drink in the comments!


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