Grape: Tempranillo

The Tempranillo grape comes from two varieties,  the greater Albillo and the Benedict. The Tempranillo variety may have been born by spontaneous hybridization in the last millennium probably in the environment of the Valley of the Ebro.


History
Until recently, it was suspected that the tempranillo was related with the pinot noir grape, but recent genetic studies tend to dismiss that possibility.
The Spanish cultivation of Vitis vinifera, the common ancestor of most of the vines which currently exist, began well soon with the Phoenician settlement in the provinces of the South of the Peninsula. Later, according to the Roman writer Columella, cultivated the vine by all Spain, although there are only a few scattered references to the name tempranillo. This may be because in many places, like in Valdepeñas region, was the main indigenous variety and it was assumed that it was a different grape. An early reference to this grape is found in the book of Alexandre, (13th century) referring to the region of Ribera del Duero, which mentions the Castilian grapes by name.


Until the 17TH century, type tempranillo vines remained confined to the continental Spain, where they were more appropriate to the slightly cooler climate of the northern provinces. Here the regions of La Rioja and Valdepenas historically made tempranillo its most important variety, and even today it is the main grape of their outstanding wines. The grape was brought to America, possibly in seeds, with the Spanish settlers of the 17TH century, where it has broadly maintained its genetic identity and is still much like their Spanish ancestors. Due to its high sensitivity to pests and diseases, particularly phylloxera which devastated the vines in the 19th century and even now threatening vineyards, Spanish tempranillo has been often grafted onto more resistant rootstock, for which a slightly different to those grape style is today grown in Chile and Argentina. Despite its apparent fragility, tempranillo travelled widely during the last century, after much trial and error, has been established in a large number of countries all over the world.
In 1905, Frederick Bioletti brought tempranillo to California where he received a cold reception, not only because of the rising dry law, but also because the grape does not like hot and dry climates. It was much later, during the 1980's when it began to flourish the tempranillo-based Californian wine production, after setting it on suitable hilly places. Production in this area is has more than doubled since 1993.
Tempranillo is currently enjoying a so-called Renaissance in world wine production. This surge began partly as result of the efforts of a new wave of Spanish growers who showed that it was possible to produce wines of great character and quality in areas outside of the Rioja region. One of the results of this has been that tempranillo varietal wines are more common, especially in the Spanish regions most suitable and fresh, like the Ribera del Duero, Navarra and Penedès. During the last decade, have planted tempranillo wine-makers from as far away as Australia, United States and South Africa.