Traveling through the Ribera del Duero
I’ve said a few times now that I thought the best value to find in Europe right now is Spain, so I thought I would feature one of my favorite regions of Spain – the Ribera del Duero.
Ribera del Duero is a Denominación de Origen (DO), which is a classification in the regulatory system for Spanish wines, located in country’s northern plateau along the Duero river. The region is characterized by rocky, flat terrain. The soil is composed of silky and clay sand with layers of limestone, marl and chalk. The region has a pretty rough climate with long, dry and hot summers which lead into hard winters with low temperatures below freezing at times.
Wine production in the region stems back to over 2,000 years ago. Today almost exclusively red grapes are grown in the Ribera del Duero region, the only white varietal being Albillo – a native Spanish grape produced mainly for local consumption. The vast majority of production is Tempranillo (Tinto Fino as its known in Spain); Grenache (Garnacha), Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot are grown in smaller quantities and used as blending grapes in many of the wines. The region is best known for premium producer, Vega Sicilia, whose high quality wines are often rated 90+ points by most critics and priced well over $100 per bottle.
But like I said, there is value to be found in Spain and Ribera del Duero. The wines of this region very much remind of wines geared toward the American palette. The use of Cabernet and Merlot in many of the blends, smooth the ‘earthiness’ out of many of the Tempranillos that is often associated with the old world. Here are some of my favorites from the region:
Emilio Mor0, 2007
Ribera del Duero
100% Tempranillo, the vines are between 15 and 25 years old. Aged for 12 months in French and American oak barrels with no cold treatments. Surprisingly complex, deep and dark with tannins that will help the wine age in the future but not obtrusive in its youth. The second in a series from this winery, and in my opinion their best (better than the third in the series at $50).
Vina Mayor Reserva, 2004
Ribera del Duero
100% Tempranillo aged for 18 months in French and American oak barrels followed by another 18 months of aging in the bottle before release. Deep, dark cherry red with flavors of ripe black fruit and smooth oak. Sure to stand the test of time. Ranked in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 of 2010.