Best red wine for summer: Tempranillo

A centuries-old Spanish grape has never been riper. Here's why you should uncork one now

Tempranillo red wine
Photo: Thomas J. Story

Say it like a Spaniard: Tem-prah-NEE-yoh

Why you should uncork one: With earthy, juicy dark fruit, tangy balsamic notes, and a spice rack of pepper and herbs, Tempranillo is a natural for backyard grilling.

Foods that bring out its best: Rosemary-rubbed leg of lamb over hardwood coals; skirt steak marinated in lots of herbs, on a bed of onions slow-cooked with balsamic vinegar; long-cured Spanish ham (jamón Ibérico); chicken and sausage paella (pour Albariño and Tempranillo).

Old World ways vs. New World taste: The centuries-old lean, earthy style of Spain’s signature red is giving way to richer, riper Tempranillos, thanks to a tradition-sacking new generation of winemakers.

Up-and-coming West Coast regions: California’s Lake County (north of Napa Valley), southern Oregon, and eastern Washington.

 

Top Tempranillo picks:

Curran 2006 Tempranillo (Santa Ynez Valley; $28). Leathery blackberries and plums spiced with anise and black pepper.

Hovey 2008 “Rolleri Cuvée” Tempranillo (Calaveras County; $16). Lush, tangy plums and blackberries with minty chocolate and dried tobacco leaf.

Longoria 2007 Clover Creek Vineyard Tempranillo (Santa Ynez Valley; $36). Earthy dark plum, berry, and cherry flavors touched with licorice, leather, and tobacco.

Quinta Cruz 2007 Pierce Ranch Tempranillo (San Antonio Valley; $18). An aromatic floral and vanilla wrap lends elegance to dusty berries spiced with anise and a touch of chocolate.

Six Sigma 2006 Tempranillo (Lake County; $42). Plush, briary dark fruit, mocha, black pepper, and violets balanced with muscular tannins.

Tejada 2005 Reserve Tempranillo (Lake County; $37.50). Smooth leather, vanilla, herbs, and coffee set off tangy berries and dark plums.

Truchard 2006 Tempranillo (Carneros, Napa Valley; $25). Wild mix of tobacco, soy sauce, violets, and warm spices (cinnamon, cloves) add layers to appealingly tart berries and plums.

1 of 1

Most Popular

  1. 32 inspiring garden fountains

    Add a little water music to your yard with the just-right idea from our gallery of water features
  2. 10 raised bed garden ideas
  3. 20 favorite perennial flowers
  4. 20 colorful plants for shade gardens
  5. 53 favorite backyard projects