As you may remember from my post on Oregon wine a couple weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be included in a sponsored media trip to New York by Snooth as part of their People's Voice Awards. That excellent seminar (Oregon Wine - Pinot Noir and Much Much More) was the first of many. Today I have another favorite from the weekend, this time on Ribera Del Duero, Spain. And, of course, this wouldn't be The Reverse Wine Snob if we didn't have some recommendations for you so below I've also selected my three top values from this excellent region interspersed with some information about Ribera Del Duero!
Ribera Del Duero sits on the northern plateau of Iberian Peninsula and literally means "banks of the Douro", referring to the river that splits the region and supplies much needed water to the area. This is the same river that flows through Douro and Porto in Portugal, which makes you wonder if there's something magic in the water! The soil in the area is clay -- there's really no topsoil at all.
Perhaps the biggest challenge to growing grapes here is the lack of moisture in the winter. And what a winter it can be, hitting 10 below zero. Combine that with temperatures approaching 105F in the summer and you have one extreme climate. Despite the extreme temperatures, the area, which sits at about 2800 ft above sea level, offers that magical combination for grapes -- hot days and cool nights.
Ribera Del Duero Value Pick #1
Our first value pick is a wine that we've previously reviewed as part of our recent Costco Week series and offers the most extreme value in the tasting, especially when you consider that it can be had for just $10! The 2011 Bodegas Barco de Piedra Tempranillo is a 100% Tempranillo featuring deep, dark and rich fruit with a smooth, full texture. This is a great example of a lightly oaked Tempranillo that proves the wine can still be robust and powerful without spending a long time in barrels. It ends nicely with spicy mineral notes and more dark fruit that sticks around for a long time. Read the full review.
Ribera Del Duero produces Tempranillo almost exclusively. (The local name for the Tempranillo grape is Tinto Fino or Tinta Fina.) There is very little to no white white wine production although there is one white grape grown here called Albillo which is sometimes blended in very small quantities into the red wines. Speaking of the red wines, they must contain at least 75% Tempranillo, although most contain at least 90%. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot usually make up the additional 10% but Garnacha, Malbec and the aforementioned Albillo occasionally show up.
The aging requirements for wine in Ribera Del Duero are the same as Rioja, with Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva designations. In other words much of the wine produced here is built to age, and that it does quite well.
Ribera Del Duero Value Pick #2
Our second value pick is the 2009 Seleccion de Torres Celeste Crianza another 100% Tempranillo with an SRP of $28. (14.0% Alcohol; sample submitted for review.) Lucky for us, it can be had for around $17. The Celeste begins with a really lovely and expressive nose of dark fruit (blackberry, black cherry, black currant) as well as some vanilla. This medium to full-bodied wine wine tastes simply succulent with lots of juicy fruit and a smooth texture. Beware however that if you simply pop and pour this wine you're likely to be disappointed, but let it breathe and you will surely be rewarded. It also has some relatively big tannins that I loved. This is a wine you can easily cellar for few years and it will only get better. It finishes dry with tart, lip-smacking fruit flavors and good length. Heavenly!
See a listing of local retailers selling this wine here.
As part of our seminar we tasted 12 different wines, paired with fantastic food from Salinas restaurant in NYC. And while the food was amazing -- Galician style pumpkin-chicken soup with smoked bacon, chorizo, potato & broccoli rabe or Ribera Del Duero braised short ribs with confit potatoes & crispy leeks anyone? -- the wine was even better.
To give you an idea of just how good I thought the wines were, I gave multiple 10/10 taste ratings, which is a rarity here at the site. Of the 6 wines that I liked the best, I've profiled the three least expensive ones here. The three other wines that I loved, but didn't include, were $85, $100 and $160 per bottle respectively. I honestly felt like the three I've included here, and especially the last two, were every bit as good at a much, much lower price.
And one last note -- all three reviews are based on tasting full bottles of my favorites either before the tasting (as with the Barco de Piedra) or a couple weeks after the initial tasting for the other two. As always there are no one sip tasting notes here!
Ribera Del Duero Value Pick #3
Our third value pick is the 2005 Legaris Reserva, another 100% Tempranillo, this time with an SRP of $36. (14.5% Alcohol; sample submitted for review.) The lowest price to be had for this one is around $25, making it a Saturday Splurge, but one worth every penny. The Legaris begins with a wonderful aroma of dark berry, licorice, sweet spice and some floral notes. This full-bodied wine tastes super rich and juicy with lots of dark fruit flavors and has a smooth, silky, dry texture with lasting notes of plums and raisins. This one needs some time to breathe just like the Celeste, but wow, what a fantastic wine. The finish lasts and lasts, but I found myself having a hard time waiting to take another sip.
See a listing of local retailers selling this wine here.
Also check out my other articles to date in the Snooth PVA Wine Writers Seminars series: