Definition - What does Tempranillo mean?

Tempranillo is a red wine grape variety grown widely in Spain. It is also grown in Portugal, and certain parts of California, Texas, Oregon, Chile, Mexico and Argentina. However, the geographical origin of this varietal is believed to be France as a natural hybrid of the Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir Varietals.

This type of grape is widely used to make full-bodied wines. However, wines produced using Tempranillo grapes are usually blended with 90% Tempranillo and 10% of Grenache, Carignan, Graciao, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. This blend stabalizes the acidity and sugar content of the final wine produced.

WineFrog explains Tempranillo

Tempranillo is among the most used grapes of the Spanish wine industry, as it is the main grape used in the production of red Rioja. Clay soils are essential to the growth of quality Tempranillo grapes, however, this varietal seems to grow well in sandy loam soil as well, and as a general rule, Tempranillo grows well wherever zinfandel can survive as well.

In the vineyard, Tempranillo is highly susceptible to powdery mildew, Eutypa dieback disease and downy mildew, but the varietal's vine is quite resistant to any bunch rot including Botrytis. The grape is considered to be an early harvest variety, usually hand picked during late August to mid September. While Tempranillo survives well in cold spring temperature, its pH balance lowers during unusually hot seasons and in hotter regions.

Rioja wine, produced using Tempranillo, is classified into four types based on the amount of aging time in an oak barrel or bottle. The aging time varies from one year to five years, and the oak barrels are now made of French oak, as it reduces aging time. But the traditional way of making Rioja is by storing it for years in American oak barrels. Regardless of the wine aging process, the most distinctive factor of Rioja wine is the essence of Tempranillo.

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