Tempranillo – Spanish or Local (U.S.)

In the Rioja, Tempranillo is King

Spainish Vs Local Tempranillo

Tempranillo is the number one grape in Spain. The Rioja region produces the most Tempranillo, but many other wine areas of Spain also feature the Tempranillo grape. In California, Oregon, and Texas, we have several wineries that have launched themselves into bottling this lovely, food-friendly grape of Spain. 

The Vintage Wine Tasters set out to taste both Spanish and domestic Tempranillo wines. How do the wines compare in taste, cost, and availability? It is easy to find many quality Spanish Tempranillo wines in wine shops and grocery stores. Costco and Trader Joe’s also carry a generous supply of Tempranillo wines from Spain. Finding domestic Tempranillo is not nearly as easy. The wineries that make Tempranillo in California and Oregon produce small amounts, and keep many for wine club members or special releases. I have yet to see any wines from the state of Texas in the San Francisco area. We did succeed in finding several wines from Oregon and California to taste and compare to their Spanish counterparts.

Crianza – wine is aged for two years, one of which must be in the barrel

Recommended Tempranillo wines from California & Oregon

Listed from lowest to highest price

  • 2017 Rabble Tempranillo Paso Robles – George: “I was not expecting anything this good in a Tempranillo wine. What a great-looking label! What a find at the Airport Costco in San Bruno” $15.99
  • 2018 Quinta Cruz Pierce Ranch Tempranillo San Antonio Valley, Santa Cruz County – Ray says best of the three Tempranillo wines he tried, the other two from Spain. “Beautiful fruit notes.” It is at Total Wine for $16.99
  • 2015 Hillcrest Vineyard Tempranillo Oregon Umpqua Valley – dry-farmed, delicious and complex Tempranillo. Hillcrest is the first winery in Oregon and the first to plant Pinot Noir in that State. Jerry found this at the Jacksonville Inn Wine Shop in Jacksonville, Oregon for $23.95
  • 2016 Ferdinand Tempranillo Amador County – The Tempranillo grapes are from grower Anne Kramer’s Shake Ridge Ranch in Sutter Creek, CA. This is a rich and robust Tempranillo wine. The wine is well suited for grilled meats. The after taste is generous. Give the Ferdinand 1 to 2 hours of breathing time. Buy it at KL Wines for $24.95
  • 2016 Abacela Fiesta Tempranillo Oregon Umpqua Valley – a gentle and velvety wine with light tannins and delicious fruit . Buy it at Weimax Wines in Burlingame for $25.99.

Recommended Tempranillo wines from Spain

Listed from lowest to highest price

  • 2014 Puerta de Plata Reserva – This wine has been at Trader Joe’s for a few years. Vintage Taster Mike thinks this is one of TJ’s best values in the wine department. This wine is 60% Tempranillo and 40% Garnacha. It is a versatile food wine. $7.99
  • 2016 Kirkland Rioja Reserva – another amazing Costco value. Pepper, spice, red fruit, and great balance mark this wine. $7.99 at Costco.
  • 2016 Cune Rioja Crianza – Both the Wine Enthusiast and Wine Advocate rate the wine 90 Points. This Tempranillo is medium bodied, showcasing red fruit and pleasing character. A fantastic food-friendly wine. KL Wines for $11.99. What a solid value!
  • 2016 Diosares Rioja – lots of fruit in the wine, big on the tannins, making it a great steak wine. Robert Parker 91 Points. Get it at Total Wine for $16.99
  • 2018 Condado De Haza Ribera del Duero – Bold and beautiful Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, a popular choice from this region. An excellent wine with chicken and red meat dishes. Total Wine, $16.19 (6 pack) or $17.99
  • 2019 Avaniel Ribera del Duero – a tasty, smooth wine with a good amount of spice; young but delightful. Weimax Wines for $17.99
  • 2015 Vina Alberdi, Reserva 2015, La Rioja Alta – Excellent, all-around flavors in a medium-bodied wine. Robert Parker 91pts. $19.99 at Weimax
  • 2018 Tierra Aranda Ribera del Duero a robust Tempranillo with spice and other complex flavors. Much more bold than a Rioja Tempranillo. Total Wine for $22

Overall, we found the Tempranillo wines from California and Oregon to be a little more robust and complex than the Spanish Tempranillo’s. The Spanish wines were less expensive and provide a great wine value to the consumer. We suggest you do your own comparison. It’s a great learning experience. Go out and buy one or two domestic Tempranillo wines and compare them to the Spanish Tempranillo. Tell us what you find.

The Tempranillo wines we tried

Comments

  1. Ted Moorman says

    It is fair to Spain to compare Tempranillo based wines in the same price range as the California ones. Doing that, you will find the Riojas and Ribera del Duero to be much more complex. For example, Embocadero – Ribera Del Duero 2014 that I recently pulled from my cellar. The current vintage 2017 or 2018 I’m sure can be found under $20. Typically the Riojas are less fruity so a Ribera may be more appealing to a California palate.

    • Joe Becerra says

      Thanks for the excellent advice. What do you think of the Tempranillo wines from Toro? There are not many to find, but I think they are more robust than Rioja or Duero. Joe

      • Ted Moorman says

        Joe, I agree. I didn’t save any specific notes. A typical Toro red leans more to a Southern Rhône style. They are not shy with the oak either.

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