Monday, August 11, 2014

Youthful Spanish Wine Carries Mature Depth

Spanish red wines are known for their aging potential, but recently the Denominación de Origen (D.O.) of Ribera del Duero has been touting the area's younger wines as more affordable and ready to drink right now.  They call them barrica or roble wines - "barrel" and "oak," respectively - which seems to be curious nomenclature since the young Tempranillos of Spain are among the least oaked wines made there.

Ribera del Duero is a wine region in the north-central part of Spain, along the Duero River.  They call their Tempranillo wine "Tinto Fino," and observe the same aging-based classification system that Rioja does.  Gran Reserva sits at the top of the heap with five years aging, followed by Reserva with three, then Crianza with two.  

Joven - it means "young" - is the baseline classification of Tempranillo, with less than a year of oak aging under its belt.  As such, this type of Tempranillo is usually much fruitier and simpler than a crianza or a reserva, which both have more barrel aging.

The Roquesán Tinto Joven 2011 - a sample was provided for the purpose of review - is a dark- colored wine and also very dark on the nose.  Plum and black cherry aromas mate with tobacco and nutmeg in a rather dashing display of smells.  Black plum and a savory streak of dusty minerals define the palate, with a light, chalky sensation on the finish.  Aromas and flavors like this are usually the result of oak aging, but this wine's label states "No Oak & Farm Proud" just above the 13% alcohol designation.  It's a 100% Tempranillo wine.

The acidity is brilliant, and the very strong tannic structure upon opening the bottle makes pairing with heavy meat not only advisable but virtually required.  The tannins settle down quite a bit after getting some air.  At a $15 retail price, this is a lot of wine for the money.