Carignan is a red grape variety of Spanish origin that is more commonly found in French wine but is widely planted throughout the western Mediterranean and around the globe. Along with Aramon, it was considered one of the main grapes responsible for France's wine lake and was a substantial producer in jug wine production in California's Central Valley but in recent years, it has been reborn as a flagship wine for many cellars in the south of France as well as in Catalonia.
Ampelographers believe that the grape likely originated in Cariñena, Aragon and was later transplanted to Sardinia, elsewhere in Italy, France, Algeria, and much of the New World. The variety was historically a component of Rioja's red wine blend. The grape's prominence in France hit a high point in 1988 when it accounted for 167,000 hectares (410,000 acres) and was France's most widely planted grape variety. That year, in a drive to increase the overall quality of European wine and to reduce the growing wine lake phenomenon, the European Union started an aggressive vine pull scheme where vineyard owners were offered cash subsidies in exchange for pulling up their vines. Out of all the French wine varieties, Carignan was the most widely affected dropping by 2000 to 95,700 ha (236,000 acres) and being surpassed by Merlot as the most widely planted grape.
The popularity of Carignan was largely tied to its ability to produce very large yields in the range of 200 hl/ha (11 tons/acre). The vine does face significant viticultural hazards with significant sensitivity to several viticultural hazards including rot, powdery mildew, downy mildew, and grape worms. Carignan is a late budding and ripening grape which requires a warm climate in order to achieve full physiological ripeness. The vine also develops very thick stalk around the grape clusters which makes mechanical harvesting difficult. It has an upright growth habit and can be grown without a trellis.
In winemaking, the grape is often used as a deep colouring component in blends, rather than being made in a varietal form with some exceptions. Carignan can be a difficult variety for winemakers to work due to its naturally high acidity, tannins, and astringency which requires a lot of skill to produce a wine of finesse and elegance. Some winemakers have experimented with carbonic maceration and adding small amounts of Cinsault and Grenache with some positive results. Syrah and Grenache are considered its best blending partners being capable of yielding a softer wine with rustic fruit and perfume. In California, Ridge Vineyards has found some success with a varietal wine made from Carignan vines that were planted in the 1880s.
Alternative Names: Cariñena, Carignan Noir, Carignane, Carignano, Mazuelo, Gragnano, Pinot Evara, Samso
Graciano is a Spanish red wine grape that is grown primarily in Rioja. The vine produces a low yield that are normally harvested in late October. The wine produced is characterised by its deep red colour, strong aroma and ability to age well. Graciano thrives in warm, arid climates.
Alternative Names: Graciana, Morrastel, Tinta Miuda, Tintilla de Rota, Minustello, Parraleta
Tempranillo is a black grape variety widely grown to make full-bodied red wines in its native Spain. Its name is the diminutive of the Spanish temprano ("early"), a reference to the fact that it ripens several weeks earlier than most Spanish red grapes. Tempranillo has been grown on the Iberian Peninsula since the time of Phoenician settlements. It is the main grape used in Rioja, and is often referred to as Spain's noble grape. The grape has been planted throughout the globe's wine regions.
In 2015, Tempranillo was the fourth most widely planted wine grape variety worldwide with 232,561 hectares (574,670 acres) under vine, of which 87% was in Spain where it is the most planted red grape variety.
Unlike more aromatic red wine varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Pinot Noir, Tempranillo has a relatively neutral profile so it is often blended with other varieties, such as Grenache and Carignan (known in Rioja as Mazuelo), or aged for extended periods in oak where the wine easily takes on the flavour of the barrel. Varietal examples of Tempranillo usually exhibit flavours of plum and strawberries.
Tempranillo is an early ripening variety that tends to thrive in chalky vineyard soils such as those of the Ribera del Duero region of Spain. In Portugal, where the grape is known as Tinto Roriz and Aragonez, it is blended with others to produce port wine.
Tempranillo wines are ruby red in colour, while aromas and flavours can include berries, plum, tobacco, vanilla, leather and herb. Often making up as much as 90% of a blend, Tempranillo is less frequently bottled as a single varietal. Being low in both acidity and sugar content, it is most commonly blended with Grenache (known as Garnacha in Spain), Carignan (known as Mazuela in Spain), Graciano, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Blending the grape with Carignan makes a brighter and more acidic wine. Tempranillo is the major component of the typical Rioja blends and constitutes 90-100% of Ribera del Duero wines. In Australia, Tempranillo is blended with Grenache and Shiraz, also known as Syrah. In Portugal, where it is known as Tinta Roriz, it is a major grape in the production of some Port wines.
Alternative Names: Aragones (Spain), Aragonez (Spain), Arinto Tinto (Spain), Cencibel (Portugal), Ojo de Liebre (Portugal), Tinta Aragoneza (Spain), Tinta de Santiago (Spain), Tinta Roriz (Spain), Tinto de Toro (Portugal), Tinto del Pais (Portugal), Tinto Fino (Portugal), Tinto Madrid (Portugal), Ull de Llebre (Portugal)