Wine drinkers exploring the lush wines of Spain sometimes overlook the Ribera del Duero. You shouldn’t. This great source of Tempranillo is not as famous as Rioja although the grand Ribera estate of Vega Sicilia may be the best known in Spain. While Ribera grows largely the same grapes as Rioja, the terroirs are different and distant. Rioja is in the northeast close to the French border and Bordeaux while the Ribera del Duero is farther west and south in the broad plateau closer to Madrid, drier, hotter, and windier with no maritime moderation. Here Tempranillo is called “Tinto Fino” and it’s spicy, earthy with deep flavors of espresso, soy, and graphite. When I was there this summer I found they could be as succulent as Rioja. Still Rioja has been well known for more than 100 years, while RDD became a top region only in recent decades. Which may be why Ribera vintners welcomed innovation before more traditional Rioja. I’ve found exciting wines at all price ranges, like the lively 2009 Resalso from our friend Emilio Moro and the ’09 Creta Roble for under $20, and the grander Wine Spectator Top 100 Resalte from 2005. Expand your horizons to include Ribera del Duero. Your enjoyment of Spanish wines and Tempranillo will be even greater. You’re gonna want that.
2009 Bodegas Emilio Moro Resalso
“A core of cherry and plum gives way to tar, mineral and hoisin sauce notes in this dense red. This shows solid tannins, but remains graceful through the spicy finish. Drink now through 2018…” 89 Points, Wine Spectator
2009 Creta Roble (PRE SALE)
“A glass-coating opaque purple color, it offers up a brooding bouquet of pencil shavings, espresso, Asian spices, incense, and assorted black fruits. Structured on the palate with layers of succulent fruit, this concentrated, lengthy effort admirably reflects the strength of the superb 2009 vintage…” 90+ Points, Robert Parker’s WA
2005 Resalte de Peñafiel Crianza
“Fresh and focused, this firm red delivers ripe black cherry and blackberry fruit, backed by espresso and licorice accents, finishing with alluring notes of sous-bois and mineral. This has depth and drive. Drink now through 2016…” 94 Points, Wine Spectator