On Saturday, I attended a Sydney Morning Herald’s Growers’ Market NSW Wine Festival tasting hosted by Huon Hooke and Nick Stock. I was impressed with the tempranillo wines on offer, especially the Audrey Wilkinson Tempranillo Hunter Vallery 2009.

Hooke was asked why we are only just starting to see tempranillo being made by a significant number of wineries in Australia. He said that, unlike other parts of the world, Australia has experienced relatively low Spanish migration. Consequently, in contrast to French and most Italian varieties, which are well-known to Australian winemakers, wineries have only recently become aware of the potential of this noble grape of Spain.

As with anything wine-related, the reasons for Australia’s only recent discovery of tempranillo are a bit more complicated. While Spain is one of the oldest and the largest wine-producing countries in the world, the story of modern Spanish wine at least is very young indeed.  As Lettie Teague notes in her book Educating Peter, “So much is happening in Spain – new wines being made, new wineries being built, old regions revitalised, and old vineyards rediscovered. And most of these changes have taken place in a short time – mostly in the past decade or so.” For many consumers, winemakers and critics alike Spain is a relatively recent focal point on the world-wine map. (Educating Peter by Lettie Teague, New York: Scribner 2008)

Indeed, the first vintage of the most expensive wine in Spain, a tempranillo from the rapidly growing Ribera Del Duoro region, was made by a Dane, Peter Sisseck, in 1995. His acclaimed Pingus was considered a revelation at the time of its release. Made from low yielding vines of at least 65 years of age, this fruit forward tannic wine was aged in new French barriques for only … Read the rest