Showing posts with label Ribera del Duero. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ribera del Duero. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

A Wow! Wine From Spain's North

Antonio Díez Martín is an artisan winemaker from Spain's Ribera del Duero region. He pulls grapes from the vines in his family's vineyard, which has 100 years of grape production behind it. He sells wine through the Naked Wines network, and he credits those angels with helping him to start producing wine again after a fire destroyed his winery and back vintages eleven years ago.

This 2021 Verdejo is a single vineyard estate wine, a white which typifies the refreshing wines of northern Spain. Martin's labels are cool, too. They remind me of Picasso. The wine carries alcohol at 13% abv, and it cost a little under $10 at Whole Foods Market.

Expected aromas of citrus appear first in this pale, yellow wine - lemons, limes, oranges. There is a lot of zest in there, and a sense of what the sidewalk smells like after a rain. A soapy undercurrent of lanolin brings a bit more complexity. The palate is straight-line savory, with salinity leading the fruit around on a leash. Acidity is fresh and lively without the razor-sharp edge that can be disconcerting. Pair this wine with seafood of any sort or pasta and oil dishes. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Tempranillo By Any Other Name

Bela is located in the village of Villalba de Duero, in the Castilla y Leon region of Spain's rugged Ribera del Duero appellation.  Bela is produced by CVNE, Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana.  Their vineyard is some 2600  feet above sea level, and features mostly clay and sandy soil. 

The 2017 Bela Ribera del Duero was made from grapes harvested in the estate vineyard.  The Tempranillo grapes were fermented in stainless steel tanks, then aged for six months in barrels of American and French oak.  Some of the casks were new, some were one year old.  Alcohol hits 14% abv and the retail price is an enjoyable $18.

This Tempranillo is dark and savory on the nose.  Black fruit meets tar over a cup of coffee.  The palate is fruit-forward, with a healthy dose of earth, licorice and spice.  The tannins are firm, but it's still an enjoyable sipper.  The mouthfeel is full, even lush, and the acidity makes for a wine which will pair well with meat dishes, especially heartier autumn meals. My wife used it in a delicious tomato sauce she made, and it brought a deep, earthy facet to it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

E Is For España

Great wine is all about location.  The location of the vineyard makes all the difference in the end product.  Locations is an experiment of place for winemaker Dave Phinney, of Orin Swift fame, in which he makes wines from all over the world.  These wines are labeled only with a big letter or two, depicting the place of origin - F for France, P for Portugal, I for Italy, and E is for Espana, much like those European bumper stickers.

Phinney sold the Locations brand this past summer to Modesto's E and J Gallo, two years after selling off the Orin Swift brand.  A price wasn't announced, but Phinney will reportedly stay on as the winemaker "indefinitely."

E5, the fifth vintage for his Spanish red blend, combines Garnacha, Tempranillo, Monastrell and Cariñena.  Those last two you might know better as Mourvèdre and Carignan.  Phinney says unabashedly that E5 is all about the "interplay of provenance, artistry, freedom, and creativity" with the Iberian peninsula as a backdrop.  Five regions are represented by the grapes in this wine, Priorat, Jumilla, Toro, Rioja, and Ribera del Duero.

That guy Parker loved a previous vintage, throwing around adjectives like full-bodied, opulent and voluptuous in his wine-porn style.  The wine was aged in barrels for ten months and hits 14.5% abv for alcohol and retails for about $20.

For starters, this is an aromatic wine.  The nose blasts dark fruit and a drawer full of savory aromas.  There are cigars, trod-upon leaves, tar and an old catcher's mitt in that dark liquid.  Herbs abound, with thyme, sage, nutmeg and peppers leading the way.  On the palate it's blackberryland, with a heapin' helpin' of currant and licorice.  The flavors are rough-cut and rustic, as is the tannic structure.  This wine needs a big, fatty steak to give it something useful to do. 

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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.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Creta Roble Ribera del Duero 2009

A lunch at a favorite restaurant for the wife and I prompted me to order a Tempranillo wine.  Spanish grapes have long been at the top of my list, but I usually order wines from near the area where I live.  In Southern California, I love finding a good Santa Barbara County wine in restaurants.

A hunch told me to break ranks and try the Creta Roble 2009 from Spain's Ribera del Duero region.  It's 100% Tempranillo, sourced from a 40-year-old vineyard, tank fermented and aged in used French oak for four to five months.  The by-the-glass price was around $10, while I have seen it in wine stores locally for $13.  At this price, it's an astounding value.

Medium dark, the wine's color is intense enough to color the glass.  A nose of blackberry, cigar box, sage and nutmeg is completely enticing.  On the palate, similar big notes prevail.  A spicy melange of black fruit and savory, meaty notes are set off by big tannins and great acidity.

I paired this wine with a tomato sauce pasta dish, which was fine, but after a sip I wished I had gone with something a bit more substantial.  Something tells me I'll love this spicy, fragrant wine over the holidays, particularly with Thanksgiving dinner.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Wines Of Spain: Ribera Del Duero

Spanish wine publicists have been beating the streets for the past few years, trying to carve out a bigger piece of the American wine pie.  Spain is trying to claw their way to higher visibility among U.S. wine drinkers.  They are presently fourth on the list of America’s favorite European wine, and struggling to nudge producers like Australia, Argentina, Chile and South Africa out of the way.  Individual wine regions within Spain sometimes seem to be fighting each other for attention, purporting that their taste is the true taste of Spain.  The Taste Ribera wine tasting event, held at The Red O restaurant in Los Angeles on November 8, 2012, had its timing just right for pouring in Tinseltown.  It was International Tempranillo Day.

Tempranillo - or Tinto Fino, as it is locally known - is the main grape variety used for making wines in Ribera del Duero.  The region is located about two hours north of Madrid in Spain's northern plateau, on the Duero River.  Its diverse soil - rocky limestone in the higher elevations and sandy clay near the river - and extreme climate give Ribera a distinctive terroir.  Winemaking dates back two thousand years there, but the region did not achieve Denominación de Origen status until 1982.

There are three main types of wine made from Tempranillo in Ribera.  Crianza is required to age in oak for a year and another year in the bottle.  Reserva wines spend a year in oak and two years in the bottle.  Gran Reserva wines age in oak for two years, then rest for three years in the bottle.  Tempranillo is sometimes blended with Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, but it is most often seen as a 100% varietal wine.

At Taste Ribera, the wines of Tinto Pesquera displayed the highest minerality.  Their '08 Reserva beat out their '09 Crianza for the title.

Convento San Francisco was built on the ruins of a 13th-century convent.  Their '06 Tinto Fino contains 10% Merlot and is aged twelve months in oak.

From Bodegas Felix Callejo, the '10 Flores de Callejo and the '07 Callejo Crianza both show restrained oak with a nice touch of spice.  The Callejo '06 Reserva has loads of fresh fruit despite the extra year in barrels.

With all the rules about oak in the wines of Ribera, it was refreshing to taste a Tempranillo aged in stainless steel tanks.  The Bodegas Valdubón 2010 Consecha was fresh and lively, showing pure fruit flavor unfettered by wood.

The Valduero '09 Crianza and '05 Reserva are both smooth, lush, fruity and floral.

Strong minerals come forth on the Protos '08 Crianza and their '09 Tinto Fino.  The former presents great tannins while the latter has a strong fruit profile.

Besides the wines that are already distributed in the U.S., there were some wineries present which are looking for representation.  One of the notables was Bodegas y Viñedos del Linaje Garsea.  Their 2011 Garsea Roble is an easy drinking and impressive showcase for plum flavors, while their '09 Garsea Crianza is muscular and chewy.  Six months oak for the Roble, 15 months for the Crianza.  Their wines are made using an extended maceration, so you get plenty of color.  The skin contact lasts from eight to ten days.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Resalte Ribera Del Duero Crianza 2005

Considering how much I love the wines of Spain - and that it was an Iberian tasting event that got me into wine in the first place - I don’t feel that I have Spanish wines often enough.  It’s not for lack of loving them, it’s just that I do a lot of specific tasting that always seems to take me to some other wine corner of the world.

A sample from Bodegas Resalte came to me recently via the nice folks at TGIC Importers in Southern California, who kindly made it available to me.  It's the Resalte Ribera del Duero Crianza 2005.

Resalte has only been in existence since 2000 in the village of Peñafiel in the Ribera del Duero region, a mere babe in the woods in a place where wine has been around since Bacchus was an apprentice.  They must have learned quickly - their ‘05 Crianza made Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2010 list.  It came in at number 26, which made it the top Spanish wine on the chart.

It is, of course, a 100% Tempranillo wine.  It spends 15 months in oak barrels, 80% of which are French and 20% American.  The alcohol content is a whopping 15% abv.  It would seem to have been crafted specifically for the American palate.

The wine’s bouquet is extremely rich, with big dark fruit and lot's of tar.  The palate is equally dark and rich.  The tarriness that drapes over the plums and cassis flavors is just exquisite.  Fine tannins, just a little bit toothy, will make this one a good choice to serve with steak.  It’s also good with the black beans and rice in casamiento.  The BBQ tofu was a little lame for it.  I'm embarrassed that I even tried that, but I’ll write it off to experimentation.  This is a great wine, full and inviting, and deserving of a nice cut of meat.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Drink Ribera

American wine drinkers sometimes find wines from other countries a little hard to navigate.  The labels are written in languages you may not understand, using terminology you may not be familiar with even if you speak the language.  That's why it's a good idea to pursue opportunities to expand your knowledge of wine the world over.

Los Angeles was treated to the Drink Ribera Workshop recently.  The event spotlighted the wines of the Spanish wine region Ribera del Duero on May 2, 2011 at SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills.  There were not an extraordinary number of wineries - bodegas - represented, but the turnout was good and the tasters seemed to enjoy the wines quite a bit.

Immersing yourself in the wines of other countries at events like Drink Ribera is the best way I know to become more familiar with these wines and expand your knowledge base.

The event had one facet which I have not noticed at other wine shows presenting wines from other countries in America.  In addition to the tables for each winery that already has representation in the U.S., there was a large table with bottles from wineries seekingrepresentation.  There were some importers tasting and discussing the wines, and I hope some struggling Ribera winemakers end up with American distribution as a result.

Ribera del Duero is located in Spain’s northern plateau, about an hour and a half from Madrid.  The region is about 71 miles long and 22 miles wide and covers four provinces of Castilla y León - Burgos, Segovia, Soria and Valladolid.  Ribera - meaning "river bank" - lies along the Duero River Valley.  Ribera benefits from the great diversity of the soils on both banks of the river.

The average altitude of the vineyards in Ribera is 2750 feet, with some at over 3000 feet above sea level.  The area has dry summers in which temperatures can reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and long harsh winters that can send the temperature down to below zero.  Ribera only gets an average of 17 inches of rain per year.  Winemaking in Ribera dates back 2,000 years.

The short growing season of Ribera del Duero, combined with the diverse soils and modest rainfall make Ribera a good place to make wine of rich intensity.  Ribera's main grape - Tempranillo - is an early ripening grape well suited for the conditions there.

Wines produced in Ribera del Duero fall under several designations:

Joven - No oak is used in producing Jovan wines, which are typically fruity and intended for immediate consumption.

Crianza - These are aged for two years with a minimum of twelve months in oak barrels.

Reserva - Aged three years with a minimum of twelve months in oak barrels.

Gran Reserva - These wines are made in select vintage years only. They are aged a minimum of five years with twenty-four months in oak barrels minimum followed by additional bottle aging.

Rosado - Rosé wines are fermented without the skin of the grape and are available shortly after the harvest.

Here are five favorites I sampled at the Drink Ribera Workshop:

Bodega San Roque de la Encina
Monte Pinadillo Crianza 2007 - Imported by Luxe Vintages, this is a very dry Tempranillo, loaded with spices and big fruit flavors.

Bodegas y Vinedos Ortega Fournier, S.L.
Alpha Spiga 2004 - Distributed by Henry Wine Group, the grapes for this wine were taken from 70-year-old vines.  It has received 90+ ratings from critics.

Protos Bodega Ribera Duero de Penafiel, S.L.
Reserva 2005 - Imported by Winebow, this is a star of their lineup.  It's easy to taste why, with a candy-like nose and palate.

Vega Real
Crianza 2007 - Imported by New Age Imports, there are tons of spices in this one.

Vina Gourmaz
Tempranillo 2009 - Imported by Classical Wines from Spain, this was my favorite.  Beautiful blackberry and raspberry flavors dominate.