Ribera Del Duero – A Spanish legacy of fine wines

While the wines of Ribera Del Duero are getting more & more recognition in the international market, winemaking in this region dates back about 2000 years, to the Roman times.  Located in Spain’s northern plateau, 2 hours north of Madrid, the Ribera region stretches along the Duero River. This harsh, rugged plateau is known primarily for one grape: Tempranillo, which thrives on its extreme climate and high elevation (up to 3000 feet).

Photo by Fernando Fernández / WENAEWE ~  Granted by the Consejo Regulador de Ribera del Duero. 47 more wonderful photos of Ribera del Duero at DrinkRiberaWine.com>

I first traveled through Ribera del Duero in 1982 in an old Passat station wagon with my friend, Stephan Griesmeyer. My memories are of rural desert where we drank lots of jug wine and had a great time.  I revisited the area in 1986 when I lived in Barcelona and already the change was underway. More wineries had popped up and the wines were different: more modern, not as rustic. I anxiously await my next trip to Ribera del Duero (which with the import business shouldn’t be too far off) because the transformation since my last visit is amazing.  Simply put, the wines coming out of this part of Spain are world class, with their flair directly linked to the extreme climate & terroir. With piping hot summer days, cool nights and a short growing period, the older vines are stressed & compact, producing wines that are dense, full-bodied and I am in full agreement with Catherine Reynolds (owner of Queso y Vino & Tasting Circle panelist), who once described a wine these wines as hedonistic pleasure bombs. 

There are several classifications for wines produced in Ribera Del Duero.  Joven wines, which are, in general, fruiter, and are aged 3 to 6 months, show no oak characteristics & are meant to be consumed young. Crianza wines are aged for 2 years & display well-balanced tannins & a velvety mouth-feel. Reserva wines are aged 3 years, with a minimum of 1 year in oak barrels. They are elegant & intense with a rich, lingering finish. Gran Reserva wines are aged 5 years, with a minimum of 2 years in oak barrels & show complexity, good structure & are well ageing wines.

Arzuaga 2005 Eibera Del Duero Crianza

Elegant, focused & well-balanced, with wonderful dark fruit, herbal & leather notes. Lovely depth & a smooth, long finish.

El Quintanal 2006 Vendimia Seleccionada Ribera Del Duero
Sweet bouquet of black cherries, toasty oak, licorice & smoke. Medium- to full-bodied, complex & good concentration. Packed with blackberry & cassis fruit & notes of licorice, black raspberries & minerals. Fine tannins on the long finish.

Protos 2008 Ribera Del Duero Roble
Wonderful effort for the money. Wonderful aromas & flavors of ripe blackberries, black cherries, dark chocolate & notes of smoked herbs. Elegant, smooth texture & structure. Delicious all the way to the fruity finish.

Creta 2007 Ribera Del Duero Roble
Another wonderful value.  Aromas of ripe dark berry fruit. Medium-bodied, elegant, with an almost lush texture. Lots of blackberries, cassis, dark plums & prunes with some spicy & herbal components. Fine tannins on the fresh finish.

It’s a lovely part of the world with delicious wines! 

Enjoy & cheers…
Jens (owner, Portalis Wines)

Last Day in Australia ~ Sydney

Our last day was the only one that didn’t focus entirely on wine.  The team was very excited. We took off from Melbourne to Sydney for one last wine meeting, this one with Chris Hancock & Darren Jahn from Robert Oatley Vineyards. We were treated to lunch at the Flying Fish on Pier 21, Jones Bay, which is surrounded by breathtaking views of Sydney & Darling Harbor. On the menu was a variety of seasonal local seafood. The food was out of this world. The highlights included oysters, sashimi (as fresh as it gets), seared yellow fin tuna with red grapefruit, sweet crackling pork & black pepper caramel, as well as mud crab with a black pepper curry leaf sauce & more…

After lunch, we had late afternoon, evening & night to ourselves to explore Sydney. We took the ferry to Manly Beach. On that ride we had wonderful views of the Harbor, the Opera & the Harborbridge. Manly Beach was beautiful, filled with lots of surfers.

Harbour Bridge

Sydney Opera House

Back in Sydney we had dinner at a recommended sushi restaurant called Sake, located in “The Rocks” district. Again, wonderful seafood before we partied the night away.

This was an intense trip that I will always remember. It would have not been so unforgetable without such a great team! Thanks Dawn, Marie, Bob & Russ as well as to our driver, Brian, and Wine Australia which made this trip possible!

I will definitely be back!