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Carl Hudson
June 22, 2022 | Carl Hudson

Tempranillo Showdown

A pairing event to compare and contrast Tempranillo wines grown and produced in Texas versus other key regions, including Spain and southern Oregon is scheduled in the Texas Wine Collective Event Center on Sunday, 26-Jun-2022, with sessions at 12:30 and 2:30 pm. Chef Amber, TWC tasting room and events manager, will prepare several delicious small food bites to accompany the wines. Please check the website to make your reservations, www.texaswinecollective.com.

Tempranillo is famous for making fine red wines in the Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions of Spain, and as one of the key grapes (called Tinta Roriz) in Port wines. The climate in these regions is hot and dry with a desert-like diurnal temperature shift of 25-40oF between the nighttime low and daytime high. These Iberian regions sit at relatively high elevations (2,000-2,500 ft above sea level) and in certain areas look a lot like places in Texas, especially the High Plains, and in southern Oregon’s Umpqua Valley, where Tempranillo grows well.

The name Tempranillo is derived from the word “temprano”, meaning “early”. This early nature of the variety can cause some issues here in Texas. Tempranillo buds early in the springtime bringing danger of frost damage from early cold temperatures. There are many different clones of Tempranillo, and Texas grape growers continue to experiment to find the one(s) that works best in particular vineyard locations and growing conditions, especially clones that bud and bloom later to help prevent spring frost damage. Tempranillo is also an early ripening grape, often ready to harvest before most other red varieties and alongside later maturing white varieties. When winemakers are focused on white wine harvests and production, seeing bins of red Tempranillo grapes arrive on the crush pad can cause some measure of frustration as shifts in techniques and equipment are needed to make red wines. However, Tempranillo produces delicious wines in Texas and winemakers most often shrug off the inconveniences involved.

Although Tempranillo is planted in many locations across the Lone Star State, it seems to do best on the Texas High Plains where sandy loam soils, high elevation to promote more productive photosynthesis, and significant diurnal temperature variations favor this variety. The cooling effect of dropping from daytime highs of 90-100oF down to nighttime lows of 50-60oF allow vines to “rest” and integrate natural sugars and flavor components in the grapes. In addition, this can result in a longer “hangtime” to reach physiological ripeness and preserve more of the grapes’ natural acidity as well as enhance various flavor components.

Tempranillo offers a relatively mild flavor profile with red fruit characteristics (think cherry) and an earthy minerality often associated with classic European wines (think dusty, almost chalky at the finish). When grown well and ripened sufficiently, typical notes of leather, tobacco, dried cherry, strawberry, tomato, and sandy earth (think Texas road dust) are often found in Tempranillo bottlings.

The following wines are scheduled to be served along with Chef Amber’s Food Bites.  Please join us. 

Brennan Vineyards Tempranillo 2018 Texas

This delicious Texas wine was produced by executive winemaker Todd Webster, at Brennan Vineyards in Comanche, Texas.


Abacela Winery Tempranillo Fiesta 2019 Umpqua Valley Oregon

This will provide a taste of Tempranillo grown and produced by Abacela Winery founded by Earl and Hilda Jones in 1995 in the relatively warm climate of southern Oregon’s Umpqua Valley.


Lost Oak Winery Tempranillo Bingham Family Vineyards 2019

Texas High Plains

Winemaker Jim Evans and his assistant, Angela Chapman, produced this blend with Tempranillo 88% from Bingham Family Vineyards near Meadow in northern Terry County and Merlot 12% from Diamante Doble Vineyard near Tokio in western Terry County.


Latitud 42 Ribera del Duero Roble 2019 Spain

This Tempranillo carries a Roble designation indicating a young wine meant for early drinking pleasure and represents very good value from the Ribera del Duero region of northern Spain. It was aged for 3 months in mostly used American oak casks and kept in bottle for another 6 months before release.


McPherson Cellars Tempranillo 2020 Texas High Plains

Kim McPherson and Spenser Igo produced this 100% Tempranillo with grapes from Lahey Vineyards near Brownfield in Terry County. This wine was aged 14 months in French oak barrels (23% new).


Diosares Crianza 2017 DOCa Rioja

Tempranillo is hailed as the star red variety in Spain’s most celebrated wine region, Rioja, which produces elegant and complex wines. Diosares was aged 12 months in French oak barrels and nearly 2 more years in bottle before release.


Learn more from these references:

(1)  Spanish-Origin Grape Varieties in Texas Climates by Carl Hudson, Ph.D., CSW, posted on Texas Wine Lover Website 19-Feb-2021 (https://txwinelover.com/2021/02/spanish-origin-grape-varieties-in-texas-climates/)

(2)  Tempranillo, Wine Folly, by Madeline Puckette, James Beard Award-winning author & Wine Communicator of the Year, co-founder of Wine Folly https://winefolly.com/grapes/tempranillo/

(3)  Tempranillo, also known as Ull de Llebre, Cencibel, Tinto Fino, Tinta de Toro, and Tinta del Pais in Spain, and Aragonez or Tinta Roriz in Portugal, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/tempranillo# . . .


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