The Americas’ oldest wine producing country, Mexico began to produce wine grapes just one year after the arrival of the Spanish in 1520. In the next decade, King Carlos V of Spain ordered that every ship headed to the New World carry vines for cultivation. Over time viticulture spread northwards through the missions into today’s state of California but since then Mexican viticulture and winemaking has faced many challenges. Today the country is experiencing a rebirth with renewed interest in its potential. While there are seven wine producing states in Mexico, the Mediterranean climate of Baja California makes it Mexico’s most important. Most of the state of California’s principal varieties grow here with great success.
Notoriously food-friendly, long-lasting and Spain’s most widely planted grape, Tempranillo is the star variety of red wines from Rioja and Ribera del Duero. The Rioja terms Joven, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva indicate both barrel and bottle time before release. Traditionally blended in Rioja with Garnacha, plus a bit of Mazuelo (Carignan) and Graciano, the Tempranillo in Ribera del Duero typically stands alone. Somm Secret—Tempranillo claims many different names depending on location. In Penedès, it is called Ull de Llebre and in Valdepeñas, goes by Cencibel. Known as Tinta Roriz in Portugal, Tempranillo plays an important role in Port wine.