Tempranillo / Tinta Roriz wine grape

Tempranillo / Tinta Roriz
Tempranillo is the best-known and most-planted Spanish black grape, responsible for the majority of Spain’s most famous reds.  Originally from Rioja or Navarra in northern Spain, it has spread rapidly throughout Iberia under a bewildering variety of names.  In Ribera del Duero, where it is usually used unblended, it is called Tinto Fino or Tinta del Pais.  In Penedès, it is Ull de Llebre; in Valdepeñas, Cencibel; in Toro, Tinta de Toro.
 
It has also become the commonest black grape in Portugal.  In the south it is known as Aragonez, and is particularly important in Alentejo.  In the north they call it Tinta Roriz, and it plays an important role in Dão and in the Douro.  Outside Iberia it is practically unknown: there’s some in Argentina and a small but expanding amount in Australia.
 
The name Tempranillo derives from the Spanish temprano, meaning early.  Its relatively early ripening (two weeks before Garnacha, with which it is often blended) and consequent tendency to lowish acidity make it especially well-suited to higher parts of northern Spain like Rioja Alta and Ribero del Duero where the growing season is quite short and acidity-preserving day/night temperature variation is high.
 
For such a famous variety it is not intrinsically deep in colour or flavour.  Much Tempranillo from warm, high-yielding, often irrigated sites is simple, soft and strawberryish.  Low yields preserve its colour, acidity and concentration, bringing out complex red fruit flavours and savoury scents of leather and tobacco.

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