Updated: Jul 17, 2021
We were planning a little party with friends and wine selection included Tempranillo Blanco among other whites. "Tempranillo... Blanco?", said I to a friend who had put the list together. "Yeah", he said. "Blanco!"
🍇 100% Tempranillo Blanco
🌎 Rioja Oriental, DOCa Rioja, Spain
⭐ Vivino 3.8 (for 2019 vintage)
Mutation is a naturally occurring phenomenon in the plant kingdom and many other prominent grape varieties like Pinot Blanc and Grenache Blanc share a similar history. Tempranillo Blanco comes from a natural genetic mutation found in a single cane of a red Tempranillo vine, discovered in an old vineyard in Murillo de Río Leza (La Rioja) in 1988. While tending to his vines, the owner, Jesús Galilea Esteban noticed a single cluster of Tempranillo grapes were yellow-green instead of the expected black-blue. The curious discovery was reported to CIDA (Spain's Center for Agricultural Research and Development) and by 1993 the new variety was declared stable, with 100 plants having been successfully cloned.
Bodegas Ontañón, a winery owned by Pérez Cuevas family, is based in Quel, a village in the Rioja Oriental located in the easternmost zone in the DOCa Rioja. Until 2018, Rioja Oriental was known as Rioja Baja, or Lower Rioja, but some producers in the region were keen to avoid any possible inference of quality—especially in comparison to Rioja Alta and hence the name change. Bodegas Ontañón have 250 hectares of vineyards in the region, and a winery near the vineyards. They believed that this new variety had great aromatic potential and planted 15 hectares of the grape on their La Jabalina vineyard. Terroir of this vineyard represents light, sandy, textured soils, that enables vine roots going deep into the ground, reducing the impact of the weather conditions throughout the year, resulting in very evenly ripened fruit. The northwest-southeast orientation of the vineyard provides excellent aeration to keep the grape clusters healthy.
The fermentation process take place over the course of 14 days in a controlled temperature of 16 °C. Once fermented, the juice is transferred to its lees, where it spends two months aging on the lees, which adds to much more complex aromas and flavors that evolve over time. The wine is then removed from its lees, racked and thereafter bottled.
2019 vintage is a limited edition with just 41,723 bottles produced. It's light yellow with a touch of green in colour with medium intensity aromas of citrus, honey and floral notes. On the palate, it's balanced with medium acidity and some minerals. Medium finish with subtle bitterness in aftertaste.
This wine goes well as an aperitif, as well as with salads, poultry and cheeses.