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If You Love #Tempranillo, Uncork These 5 Superb Spanish Reds In Honor Of International Tempranillo Day

When one thinks of Spanish wines, more often than not, Tempranillo is the grape that first comes to mind. This wine grape is indigenous to Spain and defines Spanish red wine in various regions including Rioja, Navarra, Ribera del Duero, Toro, La Mancha, and Penedes. But it is also now grown outside Spain in countries like Portugal and the United States, among others.

 

I had the privilege of learning more about Tempranillo from revolutionary Spanish winemaker Telmo Rodriguez who recently came to the Philippines. It was my second time meeting him at a lunch held at BCN by Rambla hosted by Sommelier Selection, the official distributor of Telmo Rodriguez wines in the Philippines. What makes Rodriguez so revolutionary? He explained how he does things differently, how he goes the extra mile searching for historical regions and vineyards to recover tastes that are disappearing or are already forgotten. This extensive research results in wines that are truly special and unique.

 

For Rodriguez, Tempranillo has the potential to be one of the best grapes when well produced from the right place and blended with the right grapes. In his opinion, Tempranillo sourced from the northern part of Rioja shows the best results. It comes as no surprise then that Telmo Rodriguez’s vineyards are all located in that part of Spain.

Tempranillo is, no doubt, the signature wine grape of Spain. In 2011, a non-profit trade association, Tempranillo Advocates, Producers and Amigos Society or TAPAS for short, decided that every second Thursday of November be designated as International Tempranillo Day, dedicated to celebrating the versatile Tempranillo grape and all its regional synonyms. This annual event was established mainly to raise global awareness and to encourage everyone to open a bottle of Tempranillo just for fun, and share their experiences online using the hashtag #TempranilloDay or #Tempranillo.  

 

In response to this global call-out, here are my five drink-worthy Tempranillo (or majority Tempranillo) wines to try on International Tempranillo Day (and beyond) that are all available in Manila.

 

 

1. Vega Sicilia Valbuena 5

Terry’s Selection, branches in Pasong Tamo Extension, Salcedo Village, The Podium, terryselection.com

This wine hails from one of Spain’s historic and highly prized bodegas. Taking its name from the village where it is produced, it is oaked in American and French oak, and aged for 5 years before release. It is predominantly Tempranillo with around 6% Merlot used to achieve more flavors.

 

2. CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva

Premium Wine Exchange, 2294 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City, www.pwxchange.com.ph

It is the first and only (so far) Spanish wine awarded Wine of the Year in 2013 by Wine Spectator. It is also known as the wine of the King of Spain and the only Spanish company with the colors of the Spanish flag on its logo. This wine is blended with 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 5% Manzuelo. While it embodies a rich, full-bodied Rioja, it also happens to be very well-balanced for a Gran Reserva.

 

3. Bodegas Roda Rioja Roda 1

AWC Wines, 2294 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City, www.awc.com.ph

This is Tempranillo at its best—both fruity and floral, delicious and complex in the mouth. From one of my favorite bodegas in Spain, this wine was borne out of a new generation of winemakers who arrived in La Rioja in the 1980s with the intention of providing the world of winemaking with something new, which they delivered indeed with flying colors.

 

4. Zinio Vendimia Seleccionada 2015

Premium Wine Exchange, 2294 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City, www.pwxchange.com.ph

This 100% Tempranillo wine boasts aromas of red fruits and spices, with some coffee and tobacco notes. The friendly and non-astringent tannins make this red ready to drink now.

 

5. Lanzaga

Sommelier Selection, Jannov Plaza, Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City, (02) 840-4211

This Lanzaga is the backbone of its maverick winemaker Telmo Rodriguez’ Lanciego project. It offers an earthy-nutty blend of 85% Tempranillo, with the balance made of Graciano, Garnacha, and a mix of other grapes—all harvested from 14 hectares of organically farmed, head-pruned vineyards in the village of Lanciego. With its elegant, mature, earthy fruit tannins, this well-balanced wine offers a long finish.