Grown in the Iberian Peninsula since 1100 B.C., Tempranillo is not only the backbone to Spain’s many notable red wines, but one of the country’s most famous grapes. Its name comes from the Spanish word temprano meaning early, which is fitting because this grape often ripens before others. Typically medium-to-full in body and structured by firm tannins, these bottles can often age well. With flavors that can range from fruity to savory and herbal, there’s a Tempranillo for all wine lovers. Here are some of our top picks right now.
CVNE 2014 Imperial Reserva (Rioja); $48, 93 points. Imperial Reserva is a personal favorite, and from a vintage plagued by rain this is a swinging success. Rich aromas of maple are prominent, with solid berry fruit as the canvas. Punchy acidity seems raw at first, but it’s the proper carrying vessel for tangy, spicy dried-fruit flavors that settle on cranberry and plum. Drink through 2032. Europvin USA. Editors’ Choice. —Michael Schachner
Astrales 2015 Christina (Ribera del Duero); $90, 93 points. Max level full-toast oak gives this brute an almost burnt nose, but with subtler leathery berry and crude oil notes it’s not just about the oak. To no surprise, this is intense and powerful on the palate. Flavors of maple, chocolate, toast and blackberry are pressed into a stocky whole that doesn’t dissipate on the finish. Drink from 2020–2032. Grapes of Spain. Cellar Selection. —M.S.
Marqués de Murrieta 2013 Finca Ygay Reserva (Rioja); $29, 92 points. Baked plum and cherry aromas are spicy and classic for Rioja, while lively acidity lends spirit to the palate. Berry and currant flavors show a raisiny character on the back end and run steady through the finish. Drink through 2025. Maisons Marques & Domaines USA. —M.S.
Teso La Monja 2015 Almirez (Toro); $30, 92 points. A graphite note and the essence of fine oak sit nicely atop a nose defined by blackberry, prune and raisin aromas. A tight palate qualifies as direct, while this Toro cruiserweight tastes of toasty oaky black fruits and pepper. A spicy dry finish doesn’t waver, and this Tinta de Toro will age well; drink through 2027. Fine Estates From Spain. —M.S.
Eguren Ugarte 2012 Reserva (Rioja); $32, 92 points. Blackberry, vanilla, sandalwood and oud wood aromas are a touch cheesy and warm but mostly alluring and of high quality. Intense and pulling on the palate, this warm-year Reserva tastes of blackberry, coffee and vanilla. Coconut, vanilla and unresolved oak flavors dominate a ripe finish. Drink through 2023. —M.S.
Bodegas Bilbainas 2013 Viña Pomal Reserva (Rioja); $25, 91 points. Cinnamon, clove and oak-spice aromas frame notes of berries and citrus peels on the nose. A full palate feels a touch oily and creamy, while this tastes of savory, lightly salted plum and berry fruits. The saltiness carries over to a well-formed finish. Drink through 2025. Aveniù Brands, Inc. —M.S.
Matsu 2015 El Recio (Toro); $30, 91 points. Intense berry aromas are baked, earthy and suggestive of prune. A powerful palate is direct, healthy and tannic. A mix of black-fruit and blueberry flavors concludes with dry, peppery spice notes on a long tight finish that’s on target. Drink through 2026. Askari O.H. —M.S.
Rioja Vega 2014 Edición Limitada (Rioja); $30, 91 points. Ripe red-fruit aromas are slightly candied and include notes of brick dust and baking spices. On the palate, this is lively and in good health. Savory, lightly roasted plum and currant flavors finish steady, with freshness, residual red-fruit flavors and finally some noticeable oak. Drink through 2021. Kobrand. —M.S.
Raiza 2015 Crianza (Rioja); $17, 90 points. This wine is carried by aromas of earth, spice, cherry and plum. For a crianza, this is a serious medium-bodied wine. Spicy dark-berry flavors come with a touch of cocoa prior to the lasting finish, with leftover spice notes and slow-fading fruit. Drink through 2019. Vicente Gandia USA. —M.S.
Finca Antigua 2015 Crianza Tempranillo (La Mancha); $13, 88 points. This wine’s grapy blackberry aromas convey generic quality. The palate is ripe and pulpy, with toasty black fruit flavors and a dash of pepper. It’s in good shape thanks to fresh acidity. MundoVino–The Winebow Group. Best Buy.—M.S.
Published: November 9, 2018