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National Tempranillo Day, a joy for Ribera del Duero

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

Source: Ribera del Duero

Today it’s the 12th of November and this means it is International Tempranillo Day. Tempranillo Day was started by TAPAS - Tempranillo Advocates, Producers, and Amigos Society in the hope of getting even more attention on this Spanish grape. But to be honest… this grape variety should be more praised because of its outstanding characteristics. Especially in Ribera del Duero, this grape thrives! So what about this wonderful grape variety? Today I will tell you all the ins and outs of Tempranillo and the region Ribera del Duero. Enjoy the read and don’t forget to pour yourself a nice glass of Tempranillo.

Beautiful landscape
Source: Ribera del Duero

A brief history of Tempranillo & Ribera del Duero

Spanish cultivation of variety Tempranillo ( Vitis vinifera ), began during the Phoenician settlement in the southern provinces of the Mediterranean. Yet there are only scattered references to the name "Tempranillo''. Ribera del Duero wine-making extends back over 2,500 years. In the Vacace de Pintia site, in the district of Padilla de Duero, Peñafiel district, the presence of wine residues was identified, which confirms that In the Ribera del Duero region, wine was known and consumed 2,500 years ago

During the 1972 harvest, a 66-square-meter Roman mosaic was discovered in Baños de Valdearados, considered the largest piece with Bacchic allegories in the Peninsula, which confirms that winemaking has existed in this region for thousands of years.

The Denomination of Origin, as we know it today, arises after the initiative of a series of winegrowers and winemakers concerned with promoting the vineyards and the quality of the Ribera del Duero wines.

The first Act that is included in the books of the Regulatory Council dates from July 23, 1980, the date on which this Body acted on a provisional basis. Two years later, on July 21, 1982, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food granted the Ribera del Duero the Denomination of Origin and approved its first Regulation. Since then, the implementation of new cultivation practices, the introduction of the most modern technologies for winemaking, and the rigorous control processes applied by the Regulatory Council have made Ribera del Duero a synonym for quality.

During the 1990s, Tempranillo started experiencing a renaissance in wine production worldwide. This surge began partly as a result of the efforts of a 'new wave' of Spanish growers who showed that it was possible to produce wines of great character and quality in areas outside of the Rioja region. One result of this has been that Tempranillo varietal wines have become more common, especially in the better-suited, cooler Spanish regions like Ribera del Duero.

Fun Fact: In 2015, Tempranillo was the fourth most widely planted wine grape variety worldwide with 232,561 hectares (574,670 acres) under vine, of which 87% was in Spain where it is the most planted red grape variety. For some time now, the grape can also be found in Portugal (called "Tinta Roriz" there), southern France, Australia, New Zealand, and, in smaller quantities, in the U.S. (California).

Winefolly tempranillo
Source: Wine Folly

The aroma pallet of Tempranillo

This black grape variety (also known as Cencibel, Tinto Fino, and Tinta Roriz) is a widely grown grape variety that has its origin in Spain. This native grape variety produces a full-bodied red wine that ripens several weeks earlier than other varieties in Spain (Temprano means ‘’early’’). Tempranillo is an early ripening variety that tends to thrive in chalky vineyard soils such as those of the Ribera del Duero region of Spain

Tempranillo grapes have thick skin and produce dark-colored, elegant wines with low acidity and ample tannins. Because they are resistant to oxidation, Tempranillo wines can be stored for longer. The wines are fruity, but not overly aromatic. The taste is specific to the grape and is sometimes difficult to define.

The aromas range from red fruit (strawberry, red cherry), black fruit (blackberry, black cherry, black currant), dried fruit (plum, dates, fig), earthy (earth, forest, wet leaves), spices (bay leaf, licorice, tobacco, nutmeg, vanilla), herbs (oregano, sage, anise) wood (vanilla, licorice, oak), caramel, coffee, cocoa, and chocolate.

tempranillo grape
Source: Ribera del Duero The Tempranillo grape

Tempranillo is often combined with other, juicier and more aromatic grape varieties. Tempranillo is ideally suited to the somewhat cooler climate of Ribera del Duero, where top wines are produced. The intense cold delays the budding of the vine. The sudden changes in temperature between day and night at the end of summer, cause a perfect balance of the fruit during its ripening. In autumn a grape of magnificent quality is harvested.

The D.O. demands a minimum of 75% Tempranillo. Other grape varieties to blend with Tempranillo are Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha Tinta, Malbec, and Merlot.

Tempranillo can be aged for extended periods in oak where the wine easily takes on the flavor of the barrel. Varietal examples of Tempranillo usually exhibit flavors of plum and strawberries. The aging period adds depth and complexity to the wine's flavor. Subtle flavor influences of vanilla can often be noticed.

Source: Ribera del

Ribera del Duero and its terroir

Of all wine regions in Spain, Tempranillo thrives in Ribera del Duero. Why? A unique terroir to be exact. At an altitude of between 720 and 1100 meters above sea level, nature and the passage of time have created soil with exceptional characteristics made up of layers of clay and sand. If you go beyond the first layers of clay and sand you find limestone and calcareous concretions, on which vines are rooted to produce the highest quality fruit.

Source: Ribera del Duero From left to right: clay, limestone, and stony soils

Although the growing season is relatively short because of its altitude, the grape grows balanced and develops superior aromas. Second, at this altitude, the Tempranillo grape has a thin skin and fresh acidity, even when very ripe. Because of the extreme weather conditions - dry summers, long harsh winters with low rainfall, and daily variations in temperatures (from -20 °C to +42°C ) result in grapes of the highest quality. Because of Tempranillo, it’s thick skin, Tempranillo can slowly but perfectly ripen. And when you add the latest vinification methods and knowledge and you can understand why this area is successful.

Mountains Ribera del Duero
Source: Ribera del Duero

Fun fact: Keeping the yield low means excellent quality. This means pruning and cropping extensively

Ribera del Duero Classifications of Tempranillo

Over 300 wineries and their respective 2225 brands bear the Ribera del Duero appellation seal. From young fruit-forward reds, with a balanced palate, to elegant and powerful aged wines (Crianzas, Reservas, and Gran Reservas), which stand out for their aromatic complexity, powerful potency, and smoothness.

Fun fact: The DO appellation is active since 1982. Ribera del Duero counts 8000 vinegrowers and 300 bodegas.

Etiquette labels Ribera del Duero

To become part of the Ribera del Duero legacy there are strict appellation rules regarding winemaking. Let me explain the different labels:

Crianza label
Source: Ribera del Duero

Crianza Red: Minimum aging 24 months, 12 months in oak barrels

Crianza Rosé & White: Minimum 18 months aging, 6 months in oak

Reserva label
Source: Ribera del Duero

Reserva Red: Minimum aging: 36 months, 12 months in oak barrels, rest of the time in the bottle

Reserva Rosé & White: Minimum aging 24 months, 6 months in oak barrels, rest of the time in the bottle

Gran Reserva label
Source: Ribera del Duero

Gran Reserva Red: Minimum aging 60 months, 24 months time in oak barrels, rest of the time in the bottle

Gran Reserva Rosé & White: Minimum aging is 24 months, 6 months time in oak barrels, rest of the time in the bottle

Cosecha label
Source: Ribera del Duero


Joven – young wines (unoaked)

Roble/Barrica – wines with oak ( >3 months in oak)

Other wines – wines that don’t meet the traditional classification criteria.

Source: Ribera del Duero

harvest Ribera del Duero
Source: Ribera del Duero

National Tempranillo Day

National Tempranillo Day was founded by the organization TAPAS – Tempranillo Advocates, Producers, and Amigos Society. It’s a nonprofit trade association of over one hundred wineries, growers, and amigos, whose mission is to promote Tempranillo and other varietal wine grapes native to the Iberian Peninsula, and wines produced from them in North America. A good reason to open your favorite bottle of Tempranillo don’t you think?

Don’t know what to drink?

Here is a list of Tempranillo wines from Ribera del Duero you must try!

tempranillo 2018
Bodegas Epifanio Rivera- Tempranillo 2018

Bodegas Epifanio Rivera- Tempranillo 2018

Color: Dark ruby red

Smell: Expressive notes of plums, blackcurrants, prunes, and blueberries. There are also hints of oriental spices, black tea, and vanilla.

Taste: On the palate, the Erial Tinto Fino from Bodegas Epifanio Rivera starts off wonderfully dry, grippy, and aromatic. The finish of this youthful red wine impresses with a wonderful aftertaste

Grape: 100% Tempranillo

Region: Ribera del Duero

Want to try this wine?

Order here

Crianza Tempranillo
Monteabellon Acappela- Crianza Tempranillo

Monteabellon Acappela- Crianza Tempranillo

Color: Dark ruby red, with a purple edge

Smell: In the nose woody notes, spicy, full and complex, black fruit

Taste: the wine has an attractive nose of spice box, blueberry, and blackberry. This is followed by medium-bodied wine, a supple texture, and an easy-going personality with no hard edges

Grape: 100% Tempranillo

Region: Ribera del Duero

Want to try this wine?

Order here

Crianza Tempranillo 2017
Abadia la Arroyada- Crianza Tempranillo 2017

Abadia la Arroyada- Crianza Tempranillo 2017

Color: A deep garnet red color

Smell: On the nose, the wood aromas blend perfectly with the wine, so that the aromas of ripe fruit are accompanied by those of a spicy and lightly toasted oak

Taste: On the palate, it is balanced, tasty, with a friendly and long-lasting aftertaste or dark fruit and jammy tones.

Grape: 100% Tempranillo

Region: Ribera del Duero

Want to try this wine?

Order here


Want to learn more about the Tempranillo and Ribera del Duero? Click on the link below

Website: Click here

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