All those trend-setting wineries have now finished pilfering Italy and Rhone Valley for the “next big variety” and have started to set their sights finding a hidden gem amongst the ancient vineyards of Spain and Portugal.

Grenache (Granacha Tinta in Spain) and Mourverdre/Mataro (or Monastrell in Spain) had already been tried with limited success in Australia, so heads turned towards the next option in reds, Tempranillo (pronounced tem-PRAH-nee-oh).

Tempranillo, an early ripening variety, has long been used in Spain greatest red, Rioja (pronounced Ree-ock-ka), to add structure and spine to the blend which often includes Granacha, Mazuelo (Carignan) as well as other native Spanish varieties. Tempranillo is also grown in many other of the Spanish red wine regions where its thick skins are sort after to add colour and fruit tannins to the wines. Tempranillo is also significant in Portugal where, known as Tinta Roriz, it in an essential part of Vintage Port blends and the major variety in Portugal’s most famous dry red, Barca Velha.

In Australia, Tempranillo is starting to demonstrate immense versatility, producing good fruit from regions as diverse as the King Valley, McLaren Vale and Margaret River. Much of the early success, though, has been in the cooler regions like the King Valley, Adelaide Hills and Mornington Peninsula. Here the variety can have an extended ripening period, thus resulting in a richer array of complex, fragrant red fruits, sweet spicy notes and a lovely, velvety, yet lively, mouthfeel.

Mantons Creek, Mornington Peninsula, who have been playing with the variety for the longest would claim the mantel of Australia’s best Tempranillo, but some of the newer producers are looking to throw down the challenge. Cascabel (McLaren Vale) produce a richer version, while still true to the variety; Mr. Riggs’ (Adelaide Hills) examples is an elegant, velvety yet flavoursome wine; Stella Bella (Margaret River) shows some great potential for a rich, earthy style and some of the producers of the high country (Symphonia, King Valley; Bidgeebong, Tumbarumba etc) have produced some more spicy, vibrant examples perfect for food (maybe a little Tapas?).

Locally, Gippsland should have its first Tempranillo within a year.

Try one of The Cellars range of Tempranillos to find out more…