Showing posts with label tempranillo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tempranillo. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ribera del Duero. “Cradle of the greatest wines”

Ribera del Duero
“Cradle of the greatest wines”
Tempranillo
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.
How did Ribera do in the 2016 vintage? The full harvest story from Spain here.
Read all Ribera's Alejandro Fernández here, making wine his own way since 1975.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Celebrating international Tempranillo Day?

Celebrating international Tempranillo Day?
In Rioja, you may well hear familiar accents

If you ever find yourself in Rioja searching for Tempranillo, don't be surprised if you hear familiar accents in the bodegas. I was there a few years ago and at each of the three wineries visited in one afternoon, I was greeted by someone who had learned their English in Ireland, two in Dublin and one in Cork.
Rioja vineyards seen through the glass of Bai Gorri.
The receptionist here had learned her English in Cork. Doubcha by gorri.

Vinasperi Rioja (DOC) Crianza 2012, 13.5%, €15.15 Wines Direct

Celebrating international Tempranillo Day? Here’s a duo of bottles to help, one from Rioja Alavese and one below from Alta. Alavese is the most northerly of the three Rioja sub regions; the others are Alta (to the South West) and Baja (to the South East). 

This light bodied dry red is said to be a good example of the “modern style of Rioja”, a very pleasant one at that. It is quite a dark red and has pretty intense dark fruit aromas. And attractive fruit flavours also feature on the plum-y palate, barely a trace of tannins, just light and juicy, very approachable with a persistent finish. Highly Recommended.


Bodegas Gran Martinez Gold Selection Rioja (DOC) Crianza 2013, 13%, €17.30 Bubble Brothers (this bottle bought at Cinnamon Cottage).

This is a medium red colour with cherries and raspberries in the aromas and on the palate too where you'll also notice smoothness and power, vanilla and spice, fine tannins and a decent finish. Delicious and a touch more serious than the Vinasperi and also Highly Recommended.

The fruit comes from 40 year old vines; it spends 12 months in French and US oak and they recommend pairing it with roast lamb or beef.

Tempranillo, indigenous to Spain and used in the great Rioja and Ribera del Duero wines, is planted in 500,000 acres of the world’s vineyards, making it the fourth most planted wine grape, and that would be enough to celebrate.

Until recently, this noble grape’s entire acreage was almost all grown in Spain. But things have changed. Tempranillo today is grown in many more countries including the United States, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, France, Portugal, Turkey, Canada, China, Thailand, and more.

You’ll notice a Crianza sticker on these bottles and other coloured stickers on other bottles from Rioja. Here’s the key:
The green label (cosecha) indicates less than one year in oak, less than one in bottle.
The red label (crianza) indicates 1 year in oak, 1 in bottle.
The burgundy (reserva) indicates 1 year in oak, 2 in bottle.
The royal blue (gran reserva) indicates 2 years in oak, three years in bottle.

The periods are mimimum.

* 2017 Australia Day Tastings will be held in London on the 24 January at a brand new venue, B1 Bloomsbury Square, in Edinburgh on 26 January at The Balmoral Hotel and in Dublin on 30 January at the RHA Gallery.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Semele. Wine with a Smile


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!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Travels with Tempranillo. Not just a Rioja resident

Travels with Tempranillo
Not just a Rioja resident
In La Rioja

For a long while, I associated Tempranillo primarily with La Rioja in Spain. But is also huge in neighbouring Ribero del Duero, a region that has come to prominence over the last 35 years or so. Indeed, Tempranillo (often blended) is grown across the north of Spain (with the exception of the Atlantic region of Riax Baixas). You’ll find it in Cigales, Navarra, Cariñena, and in Catalunya generally (including Penedes).


In some places in Spain, it is called Tinto Fino or Tinto del Pais. It has at least two names in Portugal. Tinta Roriz is probably the most common and this is used as one of the grapes for Port in the Douro and in Alentejo it is called Aragonês (also its name in Brazil). Tinto Roriz crops up in a big way in Argentina where more than 15,000 acres are planted. By contrast, it has a miniscule presence in Chile.

No Rioja wines in the three below. The first is from Ribero, the second from Navarra and the third, a blend, from Valencia. An interesting trio!






Bodegas Felix Callejo Vina Pilar Crianza 2010, Ribero del Duero (DO), 14%, €19.75 Karwig Wines

Ribera del Duero has been called “the modern red wine miracle of northern Spain” by the World Atlas of Wine and it is very well represented here by this Very Highly Recommended wine.

Colour is an intense ruby, with long legs on the glass. Leather and pretty intense dark fruits on the nose. It is full bodied with flavours of fruit, spice, vanilla, with fairly fine tannins, excellent acidity and a long finish.


Pleno Tempranillo 2014, Navarra (DO), 13.5%, €8.99 O’Donovan’s Off Licence
This comes with quite a name already, having been voted the Gold Star Winner for Old World Red (Under €10.00) in the 2013/14 Irish Wine Show run annually by NOFFLA. Colour is purple tinged, and bright. Aromas bring a rush of red fruits, promising much. And that promise is delivered in the mouth with delicious flavours and some spice; it is a smooth medium bodied wine, tannins are fine and it is fresh with good acidity and decent length. A splendid introduction to Tempranillo, easy-drinking and very good value indeed. Highly Recommended.

Aculius Reserva 2006, Valencia, 13.5%, €18.55 Karwig Wines

A replica Roman coin hangs around the neck of this blend of Tempranillo, Merlot and Syrah. It is fermented in new French oak and, in the same wood, aged for 12 months on its lees. 

Produced by La Casa de les Vides, it is rather intense, both on the nose and on the palate. It is rich, with an excellent mouthfeel, some spice and a persistent satisfying finish. Highly Recommended.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wine Time! Three To Consider

Wine Time!

Three To Consider
Seventeen months in oak.

Coto de Imaz 2008 Reserva Rioja (DOC), 13.5%, €19.60, Karwig Wines

This dark cherry coloured gem from La Rioja has spent 17 months in American oak and a further three years in bottle.The fruit aromas promise much and, with this well balanced wine, you don't have to wait long for the fulfilment. A complex well-aged, well-made wine “from a selection of the best Tempranillo grapes in Rioja”. In the mouth, it feels close to velvet and the tannins are a little grippy. Excellent overall and Very Highly Recommended.

Almirante’s Pionero Mundi Albarino 2013 (Rias Baixas), 12.5%, €14.95 at Mitchell & Sons, Dublin; Skelly’s of Longford; Bradley’s of Cork; and others


There are more than 600 pages in the 1994 Larousse Encyclopedia of Wine and the Spanish region of Rias Baixas gets about a 1/3rd of a page, enough though for the editors to note that “the Albarino, a variety of such excellence that almost the whole wine industry in the province..has been built on it”. It was indeed a solid foundation and, 21 years on, the results are now being tasted and acclaimed near and far.


Colour in this example is a light gold with green tints. The white fruit aromas are intense and gorgeous. And then there is the unmistakable tingle of the Albarino, fresh and fruity and yet so dry, all followed by a long reverberating finish. Very Highly Recommended.






Piantaferro Primitivo Di Manduria (DOC) 2012, 14%, €13.99 SuperValu

Greeting here is an aroma of dark fruits, plums mainly. Fruit flavours are quite concentrated and there is some spice, maybe a touch of liquorice and a silky input of tannin. Overall it is quite rich with a long finish. Well made, well balanced and Highly Recommended.

Primitivo, genetically similar to California's Zinfandel, has emerged as “the most consumer-friendly grape” of Puglia, the heel of Italy. Could be a handy one to have around when grilling on the BBQ this summer, even if you may have to eat indoors!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Campo Viejo. Still and Sparkling

Campo Viejo. Still and Sparkling
Tempranillo

Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva 2008, 13.5%, €14.31 Widely available.

Campo Viejo is the "dependable" Rioja. Even in Spain, according to our guide on a recent Tapas Trail. And not just in Spain. It is in the No. 1 Rioja position worldwide. And one can see why, or at least taste why, in this bottle. The wine has been aged for 18 months in French and American oak and a further 18 months aging in the bottle.

Colour is a clean and bright ruby and it has inviting red fruit aromas. You’ll find rounded fruit flavours and spice notes on the palate. Really well balanced with little or no sign of tannins and it has a lovely long finish. Made mainly from Tempranillo (85%), it is added to our Very Highly Recommended list.


Campo Viejo Cava Brut Reserva, 11.5%, €15.38, O’Brien’s nationwide http://www.obrienswine.ie .

Cava is usually associated with the Catalunya region of Spain and indeed the vast majority of this traditionally made sparkling wine is made there. But it is also produced in quite a few other regions such as Aragon, Navarra, and La Rioja. The usual grapes in the blend, and in this wine, are Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo.

Take a look at this in the glass and you see a clean greenish yellow colour, bright and with no shortage of rising bubbles. There are white fruit aromas which I've seen described as complex but I didn't find anything very intense. White fruits too on the palate and a terrific balancing acidity. Fresh for sure and with an excellent dry finish. A good value Cava, made by the Metodo Tradicional, and Highly Recommended.

They also produce a Rosé Brut, made with 100% Trepat.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Last Minute Wine Suggestions

Last Minute Wine Suggestions
 Top one goes with "a variety of meats" - ideal for Christmas!

Tim Adams, Bluey’s Block Single Vineyard Grenache, Clare Valley 2009, 14.5%, €16.99 Curious Wines 



Colour is a very light red and the aromatics are pretty if restrained. The magic is on the palate. Fruity for sure but very very refined and so well balanced. It has of course, the typical spice of the variety and, what you might not expect, an ABV of 14.5%. Must say it was love at first bite (well, first sip) with this mouth filling beauty, with its subtle tannins (supple, the label says) and its long fruity driven finish. Goes with a variety of meats and is Very Highly Recommended.

Viñedos Iberian, Yaso, Tinta de Toro 2010, 13.5%, stockists 

Familia Osborne (of Sherry fame) owns Viñedos Iberian and this Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo to most of us!) is a classy bottle. Yaso comes from a selection of old vineyards in the Zamora region of the Toro DO. They’ve been growing vines here for over 2000 years and this is named after the Greek goddess of healing.



Not sure I needed any healing when I opened this red the other day but I sure felt good as the initial sips came in and better as the silky liquid reached all areas.  It has an intense concentration of red fruits – you see it in the bright cherry colour and catch it in the aromas – and it is prominent again on the long finish. Highly Recommended.

Kerpen Riesling 2010 (Blauschiefer, Bernkastel, Mosel), €17.52, Karwig Wines

This estate bottled Riesling is a my favourite of mine, confirmed as recently as last Sunday. It is bright with straw green colours and modestly aromatic. Ripe fruits reach all areas before a long dry finish. Luscious apple-ly fruits yet really well balanced and with a great texture. Good with fish with light sauces or on its own as an aperitif. Highly recommended, not for the first time!.

The vineyards are on the slopes of the River Mosel, a tributary of the Rhine.

Check out the full 2013 list of recommendations here 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Yaso! Just what the doctor ordered.

Yaso. Just what the doctor ordered!
Yaso is the name of the god of healing in Greek mythology. It is also the name of one of the well priced well bred new wines from Cork importer Wine Alliance. 
Well bred? Yes indeed, the vineyard is owned by the Osborne family. No, not the heavy metal tribe. I’m talking about a vine respectability here: the owners are the Osbornes of Jerez. The Tonto de Toro (Tempranillo) vines that provide the fruit are in 40 year old vineyards in the South Eastern province of Zamora and the wines spend 6 months in French oak.
Yaso Tinto de Toro (Tempranillo), 2010 Toro (Spain), 13.5%, €12.00 to €14.00 Stockists 
Cherry red is the colour and there is a fairly concentrated red fruit nose. On the palate it is smooth, fruity, with light spice and a good finish. On the wallet, it is light to medium. Highly recommended.
The other recent additions to the Wine Alliance portfolio include Las Pizarras Si O Sy Syrah 2010 Calatayud (€10 to 12); Sembro Tempranillo 2011 Ribera Del Duero (€12 to 14); and the white (also from Osborne) Oropendola Verdejo 2011 Rueda (€13 to 15). 
Read the Toro background here 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pleased to meet you. Tempranillo, under another name!


Tempranillo, under yet another name!
MuseumReal Reserva 2004 (Cigales, Spain), 14%, €20.55, Karwig Wines.


The historic Cigales area has been producing wines for centuries and this, with its distinctive pewter label, is one of the good ones!

Grape variety is listed as Tinta del Pais, another name for Tempranillo, and the fruit comes from some of the oldest vines in the region (between 60 and 100 years old).

Colour is dark cherry, almost black, and the nose has that cherry, also plum, also hints of oak and spice, even herbs. The fruits and flavours are expertly combined to give a smooth sophisticated wine, concentrated, with moderate tannins and fine acidity leading to a long dry finish. A great match for red meat in general and for lamb in particular.