You may have missed it, but Thursday was International Tempranillo Day.
This red grape is Spain’s best-known quality red variety and excels in many regions, but most notably Rioja and Ribera del Duero. It is an early-ripening variety and is also very versatile: the range of wines produced from the grape extends from young, juicy, vibrant reds with little or no oak to more structured Crianzas and Reservas and, in Rioja, Gran Reservas capable of long ageing and development. It is also now beginning to be seen further afield with plantings in Argentina and Australia in particular. A good place to start would be Vina Pomal Crianza 2009, Rioja (Majestic £9.99, but £7.99 if you buy two, Hermitage Cellars £7.35) from one of Rioja’s oldest producers. Black fruits, liquorice and toasty oak – great with lamb.
Top tipple: Running with Bulls Tempranillo 2010, Barossa - Hermitage Cellars, £9.45
From the other side of the world, this comes from fruit grown in South Australia’s Barossa Valley. It’s been aged in a wide variety of oak including French and American and it’s a warm red with black cherries, chocolate and some savoury notes, followed by fine tannins and a long, generous finish. Try with a chorizo-flavoured pizza.