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.
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)
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)
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)