Tempranillo is a variety of black grape widely grown to make full-bodied red wines in its native Spain. Its name is the diminutive of the Spanish temprano (“early”), a reference to the fact that it ripens several weeks earlier than most Spanish red grapes. Tempranillo has been grown on the Iberian Peninsula since the time of Phoenician settlements. It is the main grape used in Rioja, and is often referred to as Spain’s noble grape. Grown early in the 20th century to produce jug wines in California, toward the end of the 20th century Tempranillo enjoyed a renaissance there and throughout the world as a fine wine. The grape has been planted in Mexico, New Zealand, South America, USA, South Africa, Australia, Argentina, Uruguay, Turkey and Canada.
Often blended with Grenache and Cariñena (known in Rioja as Mazuelo), Tempranillo is bottled either young or after several years of barrel aging. In Portugal, it is blended with others to produce port wine. Often growing its best at higher altitudes, the grape yields wines that are ruby in colour, with aromas and flavours of berries, plum, tobacco, vanilla, leather and herb.