Break Out the Tempranillo – It’s Time to Celebrate!

Fall. A chill fills the air while leaves change hue. White wines have been consumed, and red wines are finding their way into shopping carts. And it is just in time. This Thursday is International Tempranillo Day. On November 13, 2014, the wine world will, for the fourth consecutive year, celebrate one of its fastest growing varietals.

Tempranillo, indigenous to Spain, is considered the country’s “noble” grape. It is used predominantly in wines produced in Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Toro, and Castilla y León. Tempranillo grapes inhabit more than 500,000 acres of the world's vUvas_en_Ribera_del_Duero_Bodegas_Comenge_Blog_Bodegas_Comengeineyards - the fourth most planted grape. Until recently, Tempranillo was grown almost exclusively in Spain. Today, it is grown around the world in counties such as Mexico, Italy, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, Australia, France, Portugal, Canada, China, and, of course, the United States.

A recent study conducted at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid has noted the Tempranillo grape has higher quantities of antioxidants and dietary fiber as compared to white varieties. These are factors which help to reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Now those are some great reasons to load up your cart with a few bottles of Tempranillo! Looking for some suggestions? Try one (or all) of these delicious and affordable wines:

2012 Mía Red (Vino de la Tierra de Castilla) – This is an incredibly versatile wine. The brainchild of Catalan winemaker Gloria Collell of Freixenet fame, the 2012 Mía sees only stainless steel in an effort to show the ITD_OnGrey2pureness of the Tempranillo grape. On the nose one finds rich red fruits with hints of earth and spice. On the palate, there is much of the same with distinct flavors of red berries, tobacco, and hints of spice. This is an extremely easy-drinking wine and would pair with any number of foods ranging from chicken to pizza to barbecue. I enjoy drinking this wine with a slight chill. ($10 retail)

2012 Valdubón Cosecha (D.O. Ribera del Duero) – Hailing from just south of the Aranda del Duero area of Ribera del Duero, the Valdubón winery was founded in 1997. Fresh strawberries and raspberries exude fromthe glass while on the tongue this wine carries delicious red fruit and blueberry flavors through with balanced tannins and acidity. This is a great wine with a gourmet pizza as well as a slow-cooked beef stew. ($15 retail)

2011 Vaza Crianza (D.O. Rioja) – Yet another great wine from Rioja. The Vaza winery is situated near Laguardia in Rioja Alavesa and marries modern and traditional winemaking. Fresh and alluring aromas of muted red fruits along with light notes of oak. On the palate this wine radiates woodland fruits along with flavors of vanilla. A wonderful backbone holds up this long-finishing wine. A perfect pair for chicken or beef kabobs or rack of lamb. Delicious! ($15 retail)

The versatility of Tempranillo shines through in these three wines; and there is a plethora of great Tempranillos on the market. Seek them out and explore what everyone is talking about.