Tempranillo has a high acid profile for a red. This is good from the food point of view, but can make youthful versions something of a stomach-churning experience for the drinker, and a major headache for the wine-makers.
Other names for this noble grape include Cencibel (in La Mancha), Tinto Fino (Ribera del Duero), Tinta Roriz (Portugal) and, very confusingly, Valdepenas in California.
Tempranillo could have once been related to pinot noir. Ampelographers (nerds who study the history of grapes) reckon the two grape varieties may be closely related, and that tempranillo is in fact pinot noir brought to Spain by the early pilgrims heading for Santiago de Compostela.
Age before beauty
In tempranillo’s traditional heartland, Rioja, wood ageing is revered for its effects on the grape. However, much rioja is probably aged in wood for longer than is strictly necessary, which is why many have a pronounced oak nose and lots of raw vanilla tones. It can also mean they are overly tannic.
This article was published on 8th August 2011 so certain details may not be up to date.