You may have tried Baron de Barbon Rioja, and you probably liked it too! Baron de Barbon Rioja is a fairly classic example of good quality, good value for money Tempranillo from the Rioja region in Spain.
There is plenty more to discover from the Tempranillo grape, however – from Rioja and from other Spanish wine regions, too. Here we will look at some interesting examples of other Rioja wines, or other Tempranillo-based wines from outside Rioja.
Flavour Profile of a Tempranillo Based Wine:
Wines with tempranillo will smell of:
- Soft leather;
- Red and dark fruits.
They taste of:
- Spices (black pepper, cloves);
- They are often rich, with pronounced flavours;
- They have some bitter tannin, but not a lot, which makes them better for charcuterie than roasts. Other more tannic varieties are often added to tempranillo which explains why Rioja is usually paired with roast lamb;
- Oaked versions will have woody flavours from the casks, and bready notes from the yeast.
Some Alternatives to Baron de Barbon Rioja:
Tempranillo is everywhere in Rioja, so it stands to reason that you will get some of the very best examples of the grape here.
Cune (also known as “CVNE”), is a leading winery in Rioja. Cune wines are produced at different levels and different styles, though always tend to offer a reliably high quality at a fair price. This Rioja Reserva from 2011 is a great introduction to Cune. Its Reserva status indicates that it has been aged in oak barrels for at least two years, with a further year of aging in the bottle before its release. This level of aging will add more structure and body when compared to more everyday examples such as Baron de Barbon Rioja.
Like many great Rioja wines, this is a blend of a number of different grapes. The blend is 85% Tempranillo, with the remaining 15% accounted for by Carignan, Graciano and Grenache. The resulting wine is visually intense, with a deep ruby colour. The nose is well balanced between vibrant fruit and the spicier characteristics resulting from its time in oak barrels – subtle woody notes, cocoa, chocolate and liquorice. On the palate, the wine is still quite vibrant and youthful. The oak has given the wine good structure and tannin without overpowering the brightness of the fruit.
Marqués de Riscal is another major player in Rioja. This Rioja Gran Reserva demonstrates how extended barrel and bottle aging can influence a wine. This wine will not be as immediately approachable as a wine like Baron de Barbon Rioja, though it will reward your patience. Decant this Gran Reserva before serving to give it some air, and you will be amazed at the depth and complexity of flavours to be had. If you like the style hinted at by Baron de Barbon Rioja, you owe it to yourself to experience it at this level!
Almirez 2014, from Teso la Monja, is 100% Tempranillo (or “Tinta de Toro”, as they call the grape in the Toro region). This is a Crianza wine that has undergone malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels, a process which converts malic acid to lactic acid and giving the wine a rounder, creamier profile. Further aging with at least 6 months in oak produce a wine that is fresh on the palate with some underlying complexity. This is a great expression of a single varietal Tempranillo, and should delight any fan of Baron de Baron Rioja.
Other Alternatives to Baron de Barbon Rioja
The above are merely some of the many hundreds of excellent alternatives that any fan of Baron de Barbon Rioja must try. Within Rioja, many of the big brands offer consistent quality. Ribera del Duero has some fantastic Tempranillo-based offerings, including legendary names (with matching price tags) such as Vega Sicilia and Pingus. For serious value, look to some of the lesser-known Spanish regions producing Tempranillo such as Navarra and La Mancha. Vega Silicia Único is one of Spain’s most iconic wines, and is considered by many to be the best red wine in the world.