Spain’s wines have traveled far and wide to become renowned for their natural combination of Old and New World wines. Like New World regions, the sunny central and southern regions produce excellent wines with high levels of maturity. But at the same time, the wines from these regions also have some of the characteristics of Old World wines, such as a more pronounced savory flavor and better food pairing. Therefore, for those who are used to the taste of Old World or New World wines and want to try a new style, Spanish wines are a good choice. Here, we look at Spain’s most important indigenous red grape variety, Tempranillo.Tempranillo has been grown in Spain for at least 200 years. In Spanish, temprano means “early” and the suffix illo means “small”, and Tempranillo is an early-ripening variety from which Tempranillo gets its name. This grape variety has thick tannins and low acidity, with plum-like aromas of red and black fruit. Less ripe Tempranillos have more prominent red fruit characteristics, while more mature Tempranillos have more pronounced black fruit characteristics. The alcohol content of Tempranillo varies depending on the region and the winemaker, mostly between 12.5% and 15%. In Spain, the three classic regions for Tempranillo are Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and Toro. Rioja
The Rioja appellation in northern Spain is located at a high altitude and has limestone soils in the appellation. Influenced by the maritime climate, the Tempranillo produced here is very elegant and almost perfect. In addition to the cohesive flavors, the best Rioja wines have a very prominent red fruit character and age in a style closer to that of fine red Burgundy wines.However, there are other grape varieties grown in Rioja, like Grenache, but the best wineries make their wines primarily from Tempranillo. When it comes to aging, Spanish wineries commonly use American oak barrels because they give the wine a more savory flavor than French oak barrels. The best wines are the Gran Reserva Rioja, which should be aged for at least two years in oak barrels and no less than three years in the bottle, and many of the Gran Reserva Rioja wines will be aged longer. Riviera del Duero
The climate on the banks of the Duero River is ideal for growing grapes that produce very intense wines. In addition, vineyards at higher elevations with limestone soils produce very elegant wines, while those at lower latitudes with clay and gravel soils give the wines a powerful style. As a result, local winemakers often blend these two types of wines to produce complex wines. American oak barrels are used by local winemakers, but not as extensively as in Rioja. Unlike Rioja, some Bordeaux grape varieties (such as Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon) can be used to make wine on the banks of the Duero, and are therefore used by some top winemakers for blending wines. In terms of price, the Duero produces a large number of quality wines with a cohesive style, including many high quality wines that are worth aging.Toro
Of the three classic Tempranillo appellations, Toro is the hottest and its climate most resembles a continental one. The wines here are rich, with outstanding black fruit character, and more affordable. If New World (e.g. California or Australia) wines are your thing, then Toro wines are the way to go in Spain.
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