Ten top Tempranillo red wines to enjoy
It’s as Spanish as castanets and paella. Tempranillo (temp-ra-neo) is used to make some of Spain’s finest and most iconic red wines. The main red grape variety used in Rioja’s red wines, it has an unmistakeably savoury flavour, with hints of leather, tobacco leaves, and fruit flavours such as redcurrant, pomegranate and mulberry.
You’ll find Tempranillo wines in many other Spanish wine regions too, from Toro to Ribera del Duero, and Valdepeñas to Penedès.
Tempranillo also enjoys success outside of its homeland. From Portugal (where it’s known as Tinta Roriz or Aragonês) to Australia, and the Languedoc in France to Argentina, Tempranillo makes distinctive red wines wherever it’s planted.
They can be long-lived wines too, with classic bottles like Rioja’s Gran Reserva a fine example.
Whatever your budget, there’s a red wine based on Tempranillo to wow you this Christmas. To help you choose the best bottle for your individual tastes, we’ve rounded up our top ten Tempranillo wines to enjoy this December (and beyond).
El Circo Tempranillo 2016, Cariñena – £7.99 (£6.99 until 31st Dec)
Starting off simply, this is Tempranillo red wine at its most lip-smackingly delicious. No oak, just the grapes doing the talking. Which means it’s all about early drinking and enjoyment. Cherry and blackberry fruit nuances in abundance, this is Spanish red wine to grace the midweek supper. Shop for this wine here.
Villa del Camino Rioja Joven 2016 – £7.99
‘Joven’, of course, means ‘young’. It’s the starting point in Rioja, Spain’s most famous wine region, and one where Tempranillo reigns supreme. Wines in their first or second year of life are usually all about fresh, primary fruit characteristics, rather than the complexity which comes from oak and age. Shop for this wine here.
Maximo Tempranillo 2014, Castilla La Mancha – £7.99
If you were to tread in Don Quixote’s footsteps, today you’d find vineyards stretching across the ancient landscape. La Mancha is the world’s largest grape-growing region. And that means the source of some exceptional value wines. Here it’s red cherry that dominates, with that tell-tale vanilla and tobacco note too. Shop for this wine here.
Faustino Rivero Ullecia Crianza 2013, Utiel-Requena – £8.99 (£6.99 until 31st Dec)
Some grape varieties blend well with others, while some are certainly best left to themselves. Tempranillo is fortunately one of those grapes that does play well with others, and in the Utiel-Requena Spanish wine region, it’s Bobal which it cosies up to. This helps to give the wine a deep red colour and a much plumper, more rounded feel. It’s also a crianza wine, with six months oak-ageing to add to its structure. Shop for this wine here.
Suelo Argentino Tempranillo-Malbec 2016, Malbec – £8.99 (£6.99 until 31st Dec)
Outside its Iberian homeland, Tempranillo has taken well to the Andes foothills. Here it’s blended with that other Argentinian success story, Malbec, and as you’d expect, there’s more depth, colour, and robustness to boot. Plums meet cherries, with hints of spice in this remarkably good value South American red wine. Shop for this wine here.
Villa del Camino Rioja Reserva 2010 – £12.99 (£11.69 until 31st Dec)
Rioja really starts hitting its stride once you encounter reserva wines. These typically take the best quality grapes, with the wine aged for at least three years, of which one must be in cask, and six months in bottle (minimum). The wonderful thing about the Spanish ageing system is that the hard work has been done for you. The wines should be drinking beautifully as they’re released onto the market. Shop for this wine here.
Marqués de Burgos Roble 2014, Ribera del Duero – £13.99 (£11.89 until 31st Dec)
It’s true, Rioja’s many fans often refuse to budge, but it’s well worth an occasional detour to the Ribera del Duero region. Indeed, some of Spain’s most expensive wines hail from here. A great introduction to the area is this sumptuous Spanish red. Six months in French and American oak (Spanish winemakers love their American oak) gives a fine vanilla undertone to the wine, whilst Tempranillo from old vines adds a plush, bramble fruit character. Shop for this wine here.
The Hedonist Tempranillo 2017, McLaren Vale – £16.49 (£14.79 until 31st Dec)
Australia’s McLaren Vale region couldn’t be further from Spain, but here Tempranillo is on extraordinary form. Biodynamically farmed grapes in the skilful hands of winemaker Walter Clappis, produce a red wine that lives up to its name. Sour cherry, hints of cinnamon, and finely-grained tannins combine in a majestic example of Tempranillo. When you want to impress, here’s a wine that’ll have the table talking. Shop for this wine here.
Casa Ferreirinha Vinha Grande 2015, Douro – £16.95
Over the border, Portugal vies with Spain for making some hugely impressive Tempranillo-based wines. Try this one in the run up to Christmas, and you’ll discover why the Portuguese are now regarded as one of the best wine producing countries in Europe. The Vinha Grande 2015 certainly stands out as one of Portugal’s finest red wines, and a snip at just £16.95. Elegant, velvety, and complex, it’s well worth an encounter. Shop for this wine here.
Bodegas Navajas Rioja Gran Reserva 2010 – £19.99
Top of the Rioja tree, Gran Reserva wines are only produced in exceptional vintages, from the finest fruit. There’s a 60-month ageing regime, with at least two years in oak casks, and two years in the bottle. Here you have the added benefit, as you’ll often find with Gran Reserva Rioja wine, that a few more years bottle-ageing help to add to its complexity. There is one truly outstanding food pairing with this red wine too. The very best roast lamb. A match most certainly made in heaven. Shop for this wine here.