Tempranillo is a black grape with a thick skin. It grows best at relatively high altitudes, but it also can tolerate a much warmer climate. With regard to Tempranillo’s production in various climates, wine expert Oz Clarke notes,
To get elegance and acidity out of Tempranillo, you need a cool climate. But to get high sugar levels and the thick skins that give deep color you need heat. In Spain these two opposites are best reconciled in the continental climate but high altitude of the Ribera del Duero.
Tempranillo vines in Garraf province, Penedès region
In the Ribera del Duero the average July temperature is around 21.4° Celsius (70.5° Fahrenheit), though temperatures in the middle of the day in the lower valley can jump as high as 40 °C (104 °F). At night the region experiences a dramatic diurnal temperature variation, with temperatures dropping by as much as 16 °C (30 °F) from the daytime high. The Tempranillo grape is one of the few grapes that can adapt and thrive in continental Mediterranean climates like this.
Pests and diseases are a serious problem for this grape variety, since it has little resistance to either. The grape forms compact, cylindrical bunches of spherical, deep blue-black fruit with a colourless pulp. The leaves are large with five overlapping lobes.