Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tempranillo: A Classy & Luscious Red

New to Australia: A young, classy and juicy individual of Mediterranean origin, desperately seeking a quiet dinner for two. Will mature to be a beautiful rich and luscious foodie partner, no walks on the beach necessary.

Spain's classy indigenous Tempranillo is exactly that, early-ripening, red wine grape which makes juicy wines for drinking young, but can mature well in a rich, sometimes oaky style.

Tempranillo (pronounced Temp-rah-NEE-yo) is a grape variety that puts the spine into a high proportion of Spain's respected reds and is the most widely planted grape variety in the superstar Rioja region in the rugged north-east of the country. It is a hearty, robust wine with light tannins and great acidic structure, which matches excellently with food.

Tempranillo has a level of versatility other grapes can only envy. It's thick-skinned and capable of making deep-coloured, long-lasting wines. As a single variety wine it typically exhibits a generous mix of flavours – strawberry, dark cherries, tobacco or a herbal character, vanilla and spice. But it can also be blended with Grenache (also know as Garnacha in Spain) or Cabernet Sauvignon to produce provide a little more tannin support.

In South Australia, which has a similar Mediterranean climate, the variety has been planted here over the past decade with great success. McLaren Vale has always been a region ready to try innovative approaches and varieties. This is no exception with a number of classy Tempranillo wines produced by Gemtree Vineyards, Mr Riggs, Cascabel, and Olivers Taranga. In the Barossa Valley Yalumba, and Peter Lehmann Wines are well known wineries, and even in the cooler Adelaide Hills Nepenthe Wines produce one.

A food wine, it works well with game, sausages, casseroles and lamb. Perfect for those winter comfort meals and, of course, traditional Spanish dishes, - think chorizo sausage tapas.

There comes a time when you need to discover something new, otherwise it could be a long lonely winter.

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