This month Halliday Wine Companion is celebrating Mediterranean varietals. Over the coming weeks we’ll be sharing new reviews from James Halliday and his team of tasters as well as spotlighting their origins, characteristics, the regions where they are flourishing and how to pair them with food. To kick things off, we’re bringing you five tempranillo wines to try from our members-only library of more than 100,000 tasting notes.
Hailing from Spain, tempranillo is Australia’s most widespread Mediterranean red. Just as it does in its home country, this varietal exists in wine regions with varied growing conditions across Australia. Typically driven by tart red and black cherry and berry flavours, the best examples are also complemented by earthy characteristics such as tobacco, leather and spice. The savouriness of this medium- to full-bodied wine makes it a versatile match for food, especially good with charred, roasted, smoky and salty flavours (i.e. the cured meats of its native Spain, roasted vegetables, barbecued meats, red-sauce dishes and flavour-packed Mexican favourites).
Tempranillo is a nice middle ground for those who would usually go for a bigger red such as shiraz or cabernet sauvignon, but want a wine that will work with diverse dishes on the table. It’s also a great-value varietal; all of the bottles ahead are $30 or less. Give tempranillo a go this weekend with one of these top Aussie styles.
2015 Moppity Vineyards Lock and Key Single Vineyard Reserve Hilltops Tempranillo
Everything about this wine is as it should be: bright crimson-purple hue, a forthright bouquet traversing berries small and large, flavours from red (cherry) to black (blackcurrant) all with a seductive juicy character to the long, medium-bodied palate, the farewell bringing echoes of spice and licorice into play.
RRP $30 | 2025 | Moppity Vineyards
2016 Golden Grove Estate Joven Granite Belt Tempranillo
This is exactly what young tempranillo should taste like: a core of juicy fruit laced with wood spice, sarsaparilla and red licorice leading onto a medium-bodied palate with neatly packed tannins and raspberry sorbet-like acidity. Fruit of the forest and exotic spices abound along with a savoury undercurrent. JF
RRP $26 | 2021 | Golden Grove Estate
2014 La Linea Adelaide Hills Tempranillo
53% from Kersbrook in the warmer northern part of the Hills, the balance from a younger and cooler site, matured for 9 months in used French oak. This is mainstream tempranillo, with a fragrant red cherry and dried herb bouquet. The medium-bodied, fleshy, generously endowed palate has red fruits to burn, the tannins fine and playing a secondary role.
RRP $26 | 2024 | La Linea
2014 Rockbare McLaren Vale Tempranillo
Grown in deep, fertile soil at McLaren Flat, minimal winemaking inputs, and matured in large, older French oak to allow the fruit to shine through. Tempranillo in McLaren Vale seems like a good fit and this wine certainly argues that. Distinctly varietal aromas of cherry-cola, sweet spice and cocoa. Regional, earthy characters on the palate, along with flavours of red-berry and a savoury touch. Altogether satisfying. SC
RRP $25 | 2026 | Mojo Rockbare
2015 Pepper Tree Limited Release Wrattonbully Tempranillo
Marches to the tune of the tempranillo drum we have come to expect from this variety in cooler climates in Australia. It is bracingly fresh and crisp, medium-bodied (as all good tempranillos are) with a crosscurrent of dark cherry fruit, spices and gently savoury tannins. The length and balance are admirable.
RRP $25 | 2025 | Pepper Tree Wines
Become a Halliday Wine Companion member today for access to 100 new tasting notes each month.
Next article: read James Halliday's take on tempranillo