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Three Australian tempranillo wine regions

Three regions that are doing well with the signature Spanish grape tempranillo are McLaren Vale, Heathcote and Margaret River. Tempranillo is grown over most of Spain’s large and diverse vineyard, and to pin-point which Australian region is most suited to growing it is not a simple matter. Many more years of experience are required. In Spain, great tempranillo comes from Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Navarra and other regions, but it is grown far and wide.

The best Australian efforts so far have been the lighter, more fruit-driven styles – wines that do not overreach themselves. Not the try-hard wines, which often have too much oak or extraction. Here are three current releases that I think show three disparate and worthy expressions of tempranillo.

Margaret River Vineyard (Photo: Pinterest)

Juniper Estate Small Batch Tempranillo 2015, Margaret River

Winemaker Mark Messenger excels with every grape he touches, and his talents now extend to tempranillo. This wine is fruit-driven and bright, the dominant fruit note being raspberry, which is typical of tempranillo. The wine also has quite a serious structure, however, with firm tannins and good palate weight. (13.5% – 91 points. AUD $25)

Heathcote vineyard (Photo: Heathcote Wine Hub)

Tar & Roses Tempranillo 2015, Heathcote

Don Lewis and Narelle King were among the first Australians to produce tempranillo wines, after researching and working in Spain. This is a more savoury expression of the grape, showing nutty and dried spice aromas, which include dried bayleaf. There is a drying effect on the palate from tannin and some warmth from alcohol. A serious wine and excellent value. (14.5% – 91 points. AUD $24)

McLaren Vale vineyard

Samuel’s Gorge Tempranillo 2015, McLaren Vale

Justin McNamee is a boutique winemaker who seems to always manage to extract character and individuality in his wines, over and above the norm. This wine has an x-factor. There are black olive and jam notes to the aroma but the wine is not overripe or lacking freshness. There’s a hint of regional earthiness among the dark berry flavours, and the palate has richness and density. The final word has to be ‘yum’! (14.5% – 93 points. AUD $40)

7 thoughts on “Three Australian tempranillo wine regions”

  1. smaky says:

    alas/alack… its worked here for 15 years at Marion’s safe macropocket vineyard on the shores of the Tamar estuary.as has mavrodaphne, cascade, zinfandel, muscat d’ canelli, cabernet franc and sauvignon at 50 smacks a unit.

  2. Robert Wood says:

    I agree with all your choices but want to add another great Tempranillo producer.you must come down to Porepunkah and sample the Mayford Temp.Eleanor Anderson makes a ripper

    1. Huon Hooke
      Huon Hooke says:

      Yes, Robert, you’ll see the Mayford temp gets consistently high ratings in my tastings.

  3. Huon Hooke
    Huon Hooke says:

    There are many Aussie regions where temp is looking the goods. I have tasted the Toppers Mountain, Mary, and am aware of Jilly. And Robert H-S: I agree with your shameless free plug … Running With Bulls is very good and great value for money!

  4. RW Hill Smith says:

    i reckon the Running with Bulls , Temp from the Barossa and even Wrattonbully have been smart and a “riserva’ beckons.

  5. Moya Costello says:

    Please try Temp from New England, specifically Topper’s Mountain, and the Jilly label fro. Jared Dixon

  6. Andrew Scott says:

    Not to mention the Granite Belt, which has quite a focus on Tempranillo and produces a distinctly cooler-climate style.

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