Cart 0 items: $0.00
Carl Hudson
June 16, 2023 | Carl Hudson

Tempranillo Showdown – Texas vs Spain

A pairing event will that allow attendees to compare and contrast Tempranillo wines grown and produced in Texas versus key regions in Spain is scheduled Sunday, June 25. Three Texas Tempranillos from our TWC winery partners – Brennan Vineyards, Lost Oak Winery, and McPherson Cellars – will pair with three Spanish Temps from the regions of Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and Toro. Amber Saidler, TWC Operations Manager and Chef, will present three delicious small food bites to accompany the wines.

There will be two sessions, 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm.

Reservations and advance payment are required. See www.texaswinecollective.com website.

Tempranillo is famous for making fine red wines in the Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and Toro regions of Spain, and as one of the key grapes (called Tinta Roriz) used in Portugal for Port and dry red wines. The climate in these higher elevation regions is hot and dry with desert-like diurnal temperature shifts of 25-40oF between the nighttime low and daytime high, similar in many ways to the Texas High Plains.

The name Tempranillo is derived from the word “temprano”, meaning “early”. This relates to early budding in the spring which exposes the vines to freeze damage from early frost events. Tempranillo also ripens early, often ready for harvest before most other red varieties and alongside later maturing white varieties. In spite of being knee-deep in white wine production, Texas winemakers just shrug off the inconvenience of seeing bins of red Tempranillo grapes arrive at the crush pad early and forge ahead to make red wines from this popular variety.

The first flight will include:

McPherson Cellars Tempranillo 2020 Texas High Plains - This 100% Tempranillo went through a 3-day cold soak before a temperature-controlled 11-day fermentation in SS tank. After an overall 40-day maceration, the wine was racked into French oak barrels (23% new); and aged 14 months. Clinton “Doc” McPherson, Kim McPherson’s father, helped pioneer the Texas Wine Industry and made early plantings of Tempranillo on the Texas High Plains. This smooth, easy-drinking, well-balanced wine has aromas and flavors of ripe red cherry, notes of buttered toast and vanilla from oak aging, and a supple finish with soft dusty tannins.


Terra d’Uro Finca La Rana Crianza 2019 DOC Toro Spain - Hacienda Terra d'Uro was founded by enthusiasts who preserved three vineyards in the Toro appellation that contained un-grafted Tinta de Toro vines up to 144 years old. The owners believed they could produce some of the best Tempranillo wines in Spain from these vineyards. From younger vines in a single vineyard, Finca la Rana, hand-harvested grapes were fermented in temperature-controlled wooden tanks, transferred into French oak barrels (mostly new) for malolactic transformation and 12 months ageing. A tasting review awarded this wine 92 pts - very attractive with rich fruit, toasted walnut, and crushed-stone character; full-bodied with firm tannins and a flavorful finish. 100% Tinta de Toro.



Although planted in many locations across the Lone Star State, Tempranillo seems to prefer the Texas High Plains with sandy loam soils, high elevation to promote more productive photosynthesis, and significant diurnal temperature variations that result in longer hang time before harvest – allowing better integration of natural sugars and flavor components in the grapes.

While Tempranillo is not the deepest-colored red with the rich body of Cabernet Sauvignon, these wines can be very complex with layers of flavors from start to finish. Expect medium-high tannin levels and acidity to noticeably complement the tannin. The wines have an earthy minerality often associated with classic European wines (think dusty, almost chalky at the finish) and can offer a full red fruit spectrum of red and black cherry, raspberry, and dried strawberry plus subtle savory notes of dried tomato, red bell pepper. leather, tobacco, and sandy earth (think Texas road dust). Tempranillo takes well to oak aging to provide a richer profile with vanilla, toast, and roasted nut aromas and flavors. Spanish Tempranillo wines often age in oak (traditionally American, more recently European) for 3-30 months, or even longer depending on style and classification.

The second flight will include:

Lost Oak Winery Tempranillo Reserve 2019 Texas High Plains – The grapes for this wine were mechanically harvested, fermented in temperature-controlled SS tanks, aged 18 months in a mix of American and French oak barrels before blending and bottling. The Texas High Plains is a particularly good region for growing full-bodied Tempranillo wines that show bold aromas and flavors of black cherry and black current fruit, with notes of leather, sweet tobacco, and mocha. Ripe earthy tannins linger on the finish as hints of cherry and smoke still echo on the palate.


Pico Cuadro Wild 2019 DOC Ribera Del Duero Spain - Founder and winemaker Felipe Castrillo-Martin called his 2005 start in the wine business a “Wild Ride.” He has gathered 53 acres of old vine Tempranillo and built a proper winery in front of his parents’ home. With 10 years of wine training and the support of his parents and sister, Clara, he now produces 3 notable wines, including this delicious 100% Tempranillo old-vines entry-level Wild bottling that is aged in French oak barrels to give a silky richness with aromas and flavors of black cherry and raspberry fruit, nice toasty oak character, subtle savory notes of dried tomato and red bell pepper, plus hints of leather, tobacco, and sandy earth.



Tempranillo is hailed as the star red variety in Spain’s most celebrated wine region, Rioja, which was the first to receive the country’s highest quality classification of DOCa, or Denominación de Origen Calificada. Rioja produces elegant wines with complex notes of red and black fruit, crushed rock, leather, toast and tobacco, with gentle dusty tannins from one specific area, a single vineyard, or as a blend of fruit from the three sub-regions: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa, and Rioja Oriental. Wines are typically classified based on fruit quality and aging protocols, typically in 225-liter oak barrels for 1 to 3 years, and later in bottle for 6 months to several years. Roble wines are less expensive and usually aged less than one year. Crianza wines are aged at least one year in oak and for a total of at least 2 years before release. Reserva wines from better quality fruit require a higher alcohol level, aging at least one year in oak a total of 3 years before release. A Gran Reserva from top-quality fruit requires at least 2 years in oak followed by at least 3 years in bottle before release.

The third flight will include:

Brennan Vineyards Tempranillo 2018 Texas - This is a delicious blend of 90% Tempranillo 2018 plus some 2019 Super Nero and Winemaker’s Choice NV Vol. 7 added in. Such a blend connects with Todd Webster’s focus on producing the best wine possible regardless of vintage or grape variety. The Tempranillo fruit was sourced 51% from Newburg Vineyard, Comanche County, and 49% from Lahey Vineyard, Terry County, Texas High Plains. The Newburg Tempranillo was harvested at 27oBrix (very ripe) and led to 15.3% ABV in the final wine. Fermentation at 70oF lasted 9 days with significant pump-over activity to improve extraction of color, flavor, and tannins from the grapes. After fermentation, the wine was racked to neutral French and American oak barrels and aged for a total of 32 months. The aromas are full of ripe cherry fruit with strong hints of toasty oak. The flavors are black cherry, blackberry, currant, and plum boosted by notes of pipe tobacco, seasoned leather, marinara sauce, and dark potting soil. The tannins are bold but mellowed by the longer aging process into a very smooth, lush finish.


Diosares Rioja Crianza 2017 DOCa Rioja Spain - This is 100% Tempranillo and most representative of a good quality Rioja Crianza. It was fermented in temperature-controlled SS tanks, aged for 12 months in French oak barrels, and 2 more years in bottle before release. A Wine Advocate review awarded 91 pts – A juicy, balanced modern-style Tempranillo from a warm and ripe year that resulted in an early harvest. The wine is youthful and will benefit from several years of aging in the cellar.


Please join us at TWC and enjoy these tempting Tempranillos. 


Commenting has been turned off.
Recent Posts
Blog Categories