The Cellar: Spanish Wines From Ribera del Duero

Friday, April 19, 2013


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The wine region of Ribera del Duero has vineyards located at very high elevations.

Following the honor of having been named the ‘2012 Wine Region of the Year’ by Wine Enthusiast Magazine representatives from Spain’s Ribera del Duero wine region are currently hitting the wine circuit to spread the good word. Recently, local trade and media representatives were invited to a ‘Drink Ribera’ Workshop at the Boston Wine School to learn more about the interesting wines from this emerging wine region and had a chance to meet winemakers and taste a special selections from Ribera del Duero’s top producers.

About Ribera del Duero

The wine region of Ribera del Duero is located in Spain’s northern plateau approximately 2 hours north of Madrid, where it follows a 72 mile stretch along the banks of the Duero Valley River. The vineyards in this region are located at very high elevations and experience a short growing season – all in a very extreme climate where it is not uncommon for temperatures to go from the low 50’s at night to over 100 degrees during the day. The principal grape variety in the Ribera is the early ripening Tempranillo locally known as Tinto Fino or Tinta del Pais. This variety is ideally suited for the short season and the extreme conditions.

2009 Bodega Emina Crianza, Ribera del Duero, Spain

Depending on the extent to which the wine is (oak) aged the wines are designated as Cosecha or Joven, Crianza, Reserva or Grand Reserva. Stylistically, Riberas range from light and fruity over rustic and earthy to ripe and fruit-forward. One of the better moderately priced modern-style Riberas I tasted was the full-bodied 2009 Emina Crianza. At around $23 this bottle, which was aged 12 months in French and

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American oak, offers gorgeous black plums and ripe cherries and sweet oak with just enough structure (tannin, acidity) to keep it fresh and in balance.

2009 Don Miguel Comenge Reserva, Ribera del Duero, Spain

The wines from Ribera are often 100% Tempranillo, but they don’t have to be. The rules allows for blending as Riberas only have to be made from 75% Tempranillo. A popular modern day blending partner is Cabernet Sauvigon. The 2009 Don Miguel Comenge has 10% Cabernet blended in it giving it a nice herbal touch. Unlike Tempranillo, Cabernet need time to ripen. When it doesn’t have this time, like in the Ribera, it shows its greener side (a side I absolutely love by the way). The Comenge – of which winemaker Jaime Comenge only made 1000 cases - was aged for 18 months in new French oak barrels. It s a fantastic wine – rich, rustic and polished.

2006 Matarromera Reserva, Ribera del Duero, Spain

The tasting also showcased the wines from Matarromera. Their 100% Tempranillo based 2006 Reserva stood out to me as a fantastic ‘old school’ example displaying more savory flavors including those of

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leather, coffee and cocoa. Aged for 18 months in a mix of new American and French oak, this $50 wine is super complex with subtle fruit flavors and aromas ranging from fresh to stewed, still showing the signature acidity on the finish that is uniquely Ribera.

Tempranillo is truly a remarkable grape variety – and the wines from the Ribera do a great job showcasing it. If you want to know more about the wines of the Ribera del Duero I urge you to visit the ‘Drink Ribera’ website or ask your local wine merchant if he or she has one. There is a lot of quality and value in the Ribera, so if you see one be sure to pick it up.


Steffen Rasch is a Certified Sommelier and Specialist of Wine. Feel free to email him at [email protected]. And as always, don’t forget to follow GoLocalProv’s Wine Cellar on Facebook and sign up for one of his tastings through the Providence Wine Academy.


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