- 2004. “Outrageously ripe”. Reds had low pH and very high alcohol levels, up to 16%”.
- 2005. “Fantastic vintage, one of the best in the past 15 years with balanced alcohol levels”.
- 2006. “A good, abundant vintage, yet fine and balanced. Relatively early expression but it is coming along well”.
- 2007. “Awful. We suffered hail and then frosts in September. Out of our top reds we only produced Pesus, which didn’t reach 14.5% of alcohol. Production was very low”.
- 2008. “A very cool vintage, grapes hardly ripened and botrytis was an issue”. No premium reds were made. Their grapes were destined to the Crianza and those usually used for the Crianza went to the entry-level Roble.
- 2009. “Acidity was a bit low, but it was a remarkable vintage”.
- 2010. “Cool, high-acidity vintage but with no botrytis at all. Very good”.
- 2011. “A really great vintage and the very best since 2005”.
- 2012. “A balanced vintage but it didn’t reach the level of the more powerful 2011. Wines were really easy to make and I find our Crianza outstanding”.
- 2013. “Very much in line with 2008, perhaps worse”.
- 2014. “Mind-blowingly good; all the grapes were fine and we had quantity as well; it could be as remarkable as 2005 and 2011”.
- 2015. “Another good, easy vintage for us, perhaps more tannic and less abundant than 2014, but the quality is high”.
- 2016. “Similar to 2015 and to 2006; the wines show good balance”.
- An extra tip: “Vintages finished in ‘7’ have a poor reputation in the area: 1967, 1977 and 1987 were very bad: 1997 was even worse; 2007 was terrible”. Could 2017 break the trend?
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Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Ribera Del Duero
Special Land. Special Wines
Tempranillo, in many Irish people’s minds, is the grape of Rioja. And it is. But, now, the bodegas of Ribera Del Duero, all 300 of them operating over 22,400 has of vineyards, are also laying a strong claim to the grape by making some excellent wines with it.
Wine has been produced in this beautiful region since Roman times, though it became well known outside of Spain only in the 1990s. North west of Madrid and south west of Rioja, in the Castilla y León region, the vines grow on a flowing swathe of land that’s approximately 115 kms long and 35 kms wide.
The vast majority (including Fuentenarro, near La Horra) grow in the province of Burgos but some too in Segovia, Soria (Antidoto, for example) and Valladolid. See the map here.
Two related factors that make Ribera different are the average altitude of 850 metres and the big variations in summer between the heat of the day and the cool of the night. The heat of the day promotes the ripening, the chill of the night preserves acidity.
This is a land of sudden storms, dismal winds, intense frosts (often in late spring), a hot (42 degrees in summer, though it can dive to minus 29 in winter) and dry environment.
But the best wines are often made in extreme conditions, on the edge between possible and impossible, and I think we have two very good examples below, even if neither is a Crianza or Reserva.
Fuentenarro Vendemia Seleccionada, Ribera del Duero (DO) 2011, 14%, €23.70 Le Caveau
This one hundred per cent Tempranillo is from old vines (average age 56 years) grown at 840 metres with organic principles applied. It spends 12 months in French and US oak and a further twelve in bottle (in a cellar 8 metres underground) before release.
It has a very dark ruby colour. Aromas are complex, plum and other dark fruits, chocolate notes too. You find the same dense combination on the palate, spice too; it is soft and smooth, with tannins very much in play and boasts a long and dry finish. Needs food though, venison perhaps! Highly Recommended.
Hernando y Sourdais Antidoto, Ribera del Duero (DO) 2011, 14.5%, €22.15 le Caveau
Again, organic principles are employed and other similarities with the Fuentenarro include old vines, ancient (60 year old Tinto del Pais, the local name for Tempranillo), grown between 750 and 1000 metres.
And yes, Antidoto means antidote, as winemaker Bertrand Sourdais envisages this creation as an antithesis of big heavy “international” style Ribera wines. You’ll find a much more prosaic dictionary meaning on the label. The wine has matured for 12 months in barrels, previously used to make Haut Brion.
The colour is a very dark but glossy red. Aromas are a mix of plum, blackberry and spice. On the palate, it is noticeably very smooth; the plum and blackberry combine, spice again, tannins too (not as obvious as in the Fuentenarro) and a dry persistent finalé. Smooth and elegant, a most delicious “medicine”, and Very Highly Recommended.
You'll note both wines above are 2011. It was a good year!
JESÚS SASTRE'S GUIDE TO VINTAGES IN RIBERA DEL DUERO
This guide is taken from a recent edition of The Spanish Wine Lover. Much more info on Ribera here.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Ribera del Duero“Cradle of the greatest wines”
Wine has been produced in the beautiful wine region of Ribera del Duero since Roman times, though it became well known outside of Spain only in the 1990s. Just two hours north of Madrid, there are over 270 vineyards following the banks of the Duero River in the Castilla y León region, a flowing swathe of land that’s approximately 115 kms long and 35 kms wide.
According to the World Atlas of Wine, there were just 24 bodegas in the region when the DO was created in 1982 and now there close to 300. You’ll find big companies there, such as Faustino and Torres, and many smaller outfits. And there are many small growers who sell their grapes to the winemakers.
Earlier in the week, at Cork’s Farmgate Cafe, Agustin Alonso González, Technical Director of D.O. Ribera del Duero and Vicente Marco Casamayor, the D.O. Ribera del Duero Director of Communications, led a tasting masterclass, ranging from the young ‘Joven’ wines to the ‘Reservas’ – wines of exemplary depth and balance, powerful and elegant, and great wines for food.
A few years ago, Larousse Wine described the DO as “truly the queen of the Iberian peninsula and the cradle of the greatest wines”. And Alonso echoed that with his opening rhetorical question: “Why are we different? Why are we not just another region? Why are we nowadays touted as a Premier area?”
There is of course more than one answer, though Alonso says that the average altitude of 850 metres “says everything”. The best wines are often made in extreme conditions, on the edge between possible and impossible.
And Ribera is on the edge, certainly in terms of frost - they get a lot of it in the spring. Indeed, the rule, he said, is that you must have 200 frost free days per annum to make wine; they get a few less than that. Temperatures in summer can see big variations between the heat of the day and the cool of the night. And even more so between the summer (up to the mid 40s) and winter (down to minus 20).
|The lone rosé|
While other grapes are grown here, Tempranillo accounts for 96.5% of the harvest. Known locally as Tinta del Pais, the berries are smaller with a thicker skin. Because of the different proportion of fruit to skin, “it is better to make richer wines”. By the way, the DO does not include white wines, just rosé and red.
At The Farmgate, we would soon find out how good the wines were. We started off with a rosé and a few of the younger wines before moving on to those normally drank with food including a lovely Emilio Moro 2014, the “very typical crianza” produced by Valduero, and the Protos Crianza, “a very classical wine, French style, from the complicated harvest of 2013”.
At this tutored stage of the tasting, we had about ten wines and naturally finished with the best. I thought so and so did a few close by. Here are my top three, in no particular order.
Resalte Crianza 2011, a renowned wine say the producers; an exceptional vintage from a very hot year, according to Alonso. It has spent 14 months in oak (80% French, 20 American) and the promise of its “ripe fruit and typical oak aromas” is carried all the way to the finish. A powerful well-balanced wine with great potential for ageing (another feature of Ribera wines).
Pradorey, from Finca La Mina, was another star, this a reserva. This has spent 18 months in American oak, 6 in Nevers oak vats. “Iron fist in a velvet glove” was the phrase used on the day and its not too far off. It impresses all the way through, a gorgeous bouquet, fresh, balanced, silky on the palate and a long finish.
And like the Pradorey, the Protos Reserva “can last another 25 years”. This has been aged 18 months in oak and 18 in bottle. It has a beautiful “typical” cherry colour, a complex nose (includes jammy red fruits) and a powerful silky presence on the palate. Soft but with good acidity (for the food!) and a “lingering finish”. Superb. A good one for Christmas (although it was the Fournier Spiga 2010 that Alonso recommended for turkey!
That ended the “formal” part of the afternoon and then we tucked into a few nibbles from The Farmgate and tried a few other wines that were open. Here, I noted the aromatic Verónica Salgado Capricho Crianza 2012 as a favourite for its rich and vibrant palate and a long finish.
No shortage of good wines from “the modern red wine miracle of northern Spain”, a title bestowed on Ribera byThe World Atlas of Wine. Thanks to Wines of Spain, the Ribera DO, and Host & Co. for organising the opportunity and to The Farmgate, led by Mirko, for hosting.
Resalte Crianza 2011 - Smith & Whelan
Pradorey - GHS Classic Drinks
Protos - Comans Wholesale
|The Farmgate. Bodega for a day.|
Read all Ribera's Alejandro Fernández here, making wine his own way since 1975.
Saturday, December 19, 2015
Semele. Wine with a Smile.
A Christmas Glass.
Semele Crianza 2013 Ribera del Duero (DO), 14%, Karwig Wines
The simple illustration on the front label, with a glass being lifted towards a smiling face, suggests this Spanish wine brings a good feeling. It certainly does, both inside and out. And a good way too to remember Joe Karwig as this was the last wine that the maestro bought.
The producer is Bodegas Montebaco and the blend is Tempranillo (90%) and Merlot, and it has spent 12 months in oak. Tempranillo is known here as Tinta del Pais. In wine terms, the Ribera del Duero region has come from nowhere in the last 30 years to rival neighbours Rioja. Soccer fans might know Valladolid, a large city here.
The colour of the wine is an intense cherry. The aromas of ripe fruit (dark, plummy) are also intense. Fresh and rich of flavour, some spice too and really fine tannins, it is smooth and round and comes with a top notch finish. Very Highly Recommended. Many wineries in the region buy in grapes but this concentrated gem is made entirely from grapes picked on their Monte Alto estate in the heart of Ribera.
Semele was the mother of Dionysus, the Greek god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine and a whole lot of mischief!
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Sembro Tempranillo, Vendimia Seleccionada 2012, Ribera del Duero, 13.5%, €14.99, imported by Wine Alliance and widely available.
Some wines you only ever get to know briefly, a shakehands and a pleasant meeting and soon you don’t remember the name. This one makes more of a mark, goes that bit deeper. It has something special. From the heart of the Ribera del Duero it brings an expression of authenticity. I won’t easily forget the name of this magnificent Tempranillo.
Colour is a dark red and the pleasant aroma is of red fruits. On the palate it is fruity and smooth and then you have an excellent dry finish. After four to six months in new oak, there is some spice but it is pleasingly moderate. Very Highly Recommended.
The Osborne family, better known for their sherry, has been connected to the wine trade since 1772, are the producers.
Just had a quick look at the region in the World Atlas of Wine (available in Bradley’s) and was surprised to see that Swiss pharma company Novartis, “founded a vast property” there in 1996. More traditional wine names, including recent investors Torres and Faustino, have joined Osborne as Ribera investors.
Indeed, the region itself has only recently taken off, as “there were just 24 bodegas in the region when the DOP was created in 1982”. Going by this Sembro, we can expect more good things from Ribera del Duero in the years ahead.
Friday, August 16, 2013
Handsome Red at Ballymaloe
Pena Roble, Ribera del Duero 2011, 14.5℅, €18.50, Ballymaloe Wines at Brown Thomas.
Pena Roble, Ribera del Duero 2011, 14.5℅, €18.50, Ballymaloe Wines at Brown Thomas.
Had just tasted and dumped a cheap and cheerless South American red (no grape variety mentioned) before opening this. Chalk and Cheese. Actually had full confidence in the Pena Roble as I had tasted it last year at lunch in Ballymaloe, where it is the house red.
It is one hundred per cent Tempranillo and has spent six months in American and French oak barrels. Colour is an intense red with warm inviting aromas of dark fruits and some spice. The palate reveals an extension and reinforcement of the aromas. It is complex and smooth, full and spicy, and possessed of an impressive finish.
The wine is produced by Bodegas de Penafiel, who began producing in 2000. "All our wines are made from the indigenous variety Tempranillo. This grape, hallmark of Ribera del Duero, contains exquisite fruit notes that we extract to give our wines their own identity."A young winery, an old grape and, for me, a new friend, one to keep close at hand. Very Highly Recommended.