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Tempranillo namesakes identified as separate clones

Published:  23 July, 2008

After years of research, Spanish winemakers in Rioja and Ribera del Duero have claimed that Tempranillo, and all of its namesakes, such as Tinto Fino, Tinto de Toro and Tinta del Pais, are, in fact, different clones with their own flavour profiles.

A number of wineries in northern Spain have conducted research into Tempranillo clones, and have found that, climatic differences aside, grapes from Ribera del Duero and Toro are smaller and produce more concentrated wines than their counterparts in Rioja.

Gonzalo Lainez, export manager at Bodegas Roda, told Harpers: 'Here, there are lots of different Tempranillo clones.

In the 1970s, due to clonal selection, the authorities decided to select just four clones, and multiply them. The criteria were high yields and no illnesses.'

The company brought in consultant Lidia Martinez, who travelled across Rioja and identified 552 Tempranillo clones.

Lainez added: 'When we plant new vineyards, we plant them with the 20 clones we like the most. In the future, Roda will be better, because it will be produced with the best clones.

'In Rioja, Tempranillo is subtle while in Toro, it's very rustic, and Ribera del Duero is in the middle.'

Real Sitio de Ventosilla, in Ribera del Duero, began experimenting with Tempranillo and Tinto Fino in the 1980s, and has come up with a new clone of Tinto Fino, 'Elite'.

Winemaker ngel Luis Margello said: 'The generic qualities of Tempranillo are not the same as Tinto Fino. After 20 years, thanks to the soil and climate, it makes changes to the vine.'

Adding, 'and if you think the quality of red wine comes from the skins, then we're saying that Tinto Fino is more aromatic, and offers better tannins.'

Ricardo Sanchez, technical director at Bodega Numanthia Termes in Toro, says that Tinta de Toro is 'more tannic and fruity' then Tempranillo, and produces wines that are darker

in colour.

Germn Lpez, from Ribera del Duero's Consejo Regulador, added that the Ribera del Duero region is likely to be awarded DOCa status within the next year or two.

At present, Rioja and Priorato are the only two DOCa regions in Spain. But Lpez said that it is only 'a matter of time' before Ribera del Duero becomes the third such region: 'If you look at the conditions for a wine region to qualify for DOCa, we have all of them - for example, the price per kilogram of grape; a fully study of the soils, and so on.

'I'm confident it will happen within the next couple of years.'