Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ribera del Duero Wine Tasting

The promotional group drinkriberawine.com hosted a large tasting of wines from the Ribero del Duero on Nov. 7th.  There was a sitdown tasting led by Sommilier Yoon Ha. The tasting proves that this region of Spain is the sweet spot for Temperanillo. There are many wineries which are looking for importers.  Ribero del Duero has been influenced by Bordeaux wine makers and owners who see this area as a gold mine of potential in the future.  The information that follows will allow you to explore Spanish wines with extra information.  I would recommend that you try a bottle or two from each of the  classifications to determine your palate preference. They are all of very high quality now all you have to do is find a retailer or producer who will lead you to the next experience in Spanish wine.  Remember these are above all else food wines.

Climate: Ribera has the mix of Continental and Mediterranean influences which are extremes of temperature and altitude.  The average Ribera vineyard is grown in vineyards with a high between 2,500 and 2,800 feet.  Summers are short with highs as high as 100F and evening lows of 50/60F. This coupled with moderate rainfall of 16 inches more or less makes for vines which strive for water with deep root systems. There is research that is on going looking for vines which obtain strong root growth which promotes growth through attachment to deep water pockets.

Temperanillo: is the main grape of choice. It is an early ripening grape which lends itself to the severe climate of Ribero. Also known as Tinto Fino or Tinta de Pais it is the perfect match for the highest quality of wine produced in Spain.

                                            CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM

There are levels of Ribera wines with each reflecting a type of wine treatment which affects the price of the bottle.
Cosecha: or young wine sees only minimal oak and is the first wine of the vintage released. It is meant to be consumed in its youth for the fresh fruit and low tannins.  These are excellent for bistro fare and light lunches and tapas.
Crianza: are aged two years in oak and are in my opinion the best dollar value in Spain. These Ribero wines have rich color deep fruit flavors and a touch of oak that rounds out on the palate. Most of these wines sell in the under $15 bracket and can compete with almost any wine from any where.
Reserva: are aged three years with a minimum of one year in oak. The wines are aged in the winery cellars until release. They represent elegant and intense wines with a dense finish.
Gran Reserva: are made in only select vintage years. They are aged a minimum of five years with two years of barrel age.  They tend to show a bit of age but also maintain their fruit quality. For the price this person would go for the Crianza style of Ribera.
Rosado: these are the roses of the region. I am a great fan of Spanish rosado.  They are full flavored with complex aromas of berries.  They retain acidity and are perfect for all occasions and most often sell in the $10 area.

There were 26 wineries looking for importers as well as 19 wineries who have importers who were pouring wines.  Ribera del Duero is in my opinion the top region for quality Spanish wines. They are rich, well made, extracted without being over the top and  balanced.  The Crianza level of wine is the best deal going. You get all the flavors and can drink them now. The Reservas with the extra oak and tannins generally require more time in bottle to reach optimum drinking.

Keep your eyes open for Spanish wines.  They represent consumer friendly wines of top quality and more than resonable prices.

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