Tempranillo: What’s in a label…

AGEING TERMS: Affect quality and flavour.

MY recent comments on Tempranillo led to requests from readers for additional information which I am happy to provide.

It is useful when buying Tempranillo to understand the four legal ageing terms listed on most Spanish wine bottles as they affect quality and flavour.

• Vin Joven: rarely aged in oak, they are released young, intended for immediate consumption, and are not very common outside Spain.

• Crianza: reds aged for two years with six months in oak, traditionally American which is stronger than other types (ie French).

• Reserva: reds aged three years, with one year in oak, resulting in a higher quality with richer, round flavours.

• Gran Reserva: exceptional vintage wines, aged a minimum of five years with 18 months of oak ageing.

Depending on the region, Tempranillo is known under various names: Tinta del País in Ribera del Duero, Tinta de Toro in Toro, Ull de Llebre in Catalonia, Cencibel in Valdepenas where it is the predominant red grape and Tinto Fino in other regions.

Tempranillo is most commonly blended with Garnacha, Mazuela, Merlot, Monastrell and Cabernet Sauvignon; is the major component of the typical Rioja blends and constitutes 90-100 per cent of Ribera del Duero wines.

Reasonably-priced labels of Tempranillo ‘vin Joven’ include Rioja 2016 Pagos del Rey by Castillo de Albai; Crin Rioja; and Senorio de Los Llanos by Garcia de Carrion.

Recommended to serve at 15ºC, this can be achieved by putting the open bottle into the fridge 15 minutes before pouring.

Happy tasting.

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