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Tempranillo - What's That?

Wine for Regular People Series

Tempranillo was added to the Wildside Winery menu last year as a special part of our West Coast Series menu and it has made quite an impression with many of our enthusiasts. Many say they had never heard of it before, but love the way it hits their palate. We learned about Tempranillo on an adventure in Spain, and it seemed to be on every menu. As with any European adventure, we took stock of what our tastebuds loved the most and Tempranillo was at the top of the list.

That fall, when speaking with our Lodi, California based grape broker, we asked him if he had any. He was surprised at the mention and said he would add some to our order. Lucky for us, the grape we so thoroughly enjoyed is highly adaptable and is grown in a wide variety of climates all over the world - with California being one of them. We think it should be as common in Kentucky as we found it to be in Spain (especially since it is the fourth most planted varietal in the world).

As Spain's number one varietal, Tempranillo has quite a story prior to her visit to Kentucky. Historically speaking, Tempranillo grapes are thought to have been around in the Iberian Peninsula for about three thousand years. So if you're looking for a wine with ancestors, you found it!

As a young grape she is fruity and fresh, attaining a depth the more serious wine consumer craves with age and oak. In the more perfect combinations your palate will find peppery notes of leather, tobacco, dried fig, cherry, cedar and an earthiness that is topped by no other. In its natural form it is a black grape that eventually leads to a full bodied wine.

What does the name mean? In Spanish 'Tempranillo' is closely related to the word 'early', appropriately named as these grapes are some of the first to be ready to harvest each fall. And you'll know they are ready as they are one of the few varieties whose leaves turn bright red each autumn.

At Wildside, we found that aging Tempranillo for longer periods of time in American Oak softens the harsh tannins and creates a smooth flavor for your palate to enjoy. It will pair perfectly with your red meat dinners and rich tomato sauces.

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