Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tempranillo: Un Gran Vino

Last week, we talked about International Varietals and Noble Grapes. In addition to Italy’s Greco grape, which fits both categories, there is the Spanish “Tempranillo” grape, which is currently the most popular red wine grape in Spain. This varietal produces young wines that pair well with meat and olive oil – think Tapas – but is also a great choice for your summer barbecues.

Ribera del Duero is a designated wine region (since 1982) in north central Spain with about 268 different wineries scattered mainly along the River Duero. Its high altitude exhibits high daytime and cool evening temperatures, which is ideal for growing Tempranillo. The grape is also known as “Tinto Fino” and “Tinta del Pais” in Spain, so you may see these names on Spanish wine labels.

While wines from the Ribera region are predominantly Tempranillo, other grapes are grown there and may be blended with them, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Garnacha Tinta (known as Grenache outside Spain) and Malbec.

When looking at Spanish wines, you will see color-coded age indicators beneath the back labels. The Spanish wine industry classifies its wines by age, from the youngest, Cosecha (also called Joven, which means “young” in Spanish,) to Crianza, to Reserva, to Gran Reserva – the oldest and finest. Rosé wines are called Rosada and are bottled and available right after harvest.

Last week I had the pleasure of sampling several Tempranillo wines from Ribera del Duero at an in-house tasting at The Wine House ( in West Los Angeles, which was hosted by Allison Levine, owner of Please The Palette (

The wines I tasted were either Cosecha, which means they are young wines that have little or no oak aging, or Crianza, meaning they were aged at least two years, one of which was in oak. Cosecha wines are fruity, vibrant, and meant to be drunk soon after bottling.

My favorite – and also the most affordable at just $13 – was the Emilio Moro Finca Resalso 2010. This 100% Tempranillo wine is balanced with fresh red and black fruit on the nose and palette, some light oak flavors (due to four months in French oak barrels), and enough tannin to add pizazz without being overpowering. The Moro family is one of the region’s leading producers of top-quality wine.

I would recommend all the other Ribera del Duero wines I tasted, depending on how much you want to spend. All are on sale at the Wine House, but can also be found online. They are: 

Juan-Manuel Burgos Avan Viñedo del Torrubio 2010, $34.99

Teófilo Reyes 2009, $26.99

Aster Ribera Del Duero Crianza 2006, $24.99

Hacienda Monasterio Ribera Del Duero 2009, $45.99

You can learn more about Ribera del Duero, which was named 2012 Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, at or on Facebook at Drink Ribera. Drink Spain.

Until next time, salud!

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