Ribera del Duero remains an exciting region. This has also been demonstrated by my current trip to the Castilian plateau. On the one hand, there are the very hospitable people I met everywhere here. This is a great relief, especially after the long Corona isolation. And, of course, there are the fantastic wines whose grapes ripen along the Duero River just within sight. Stylistically, its range of wines is more diverse and individual than ever. The wine explorer encounters tradition and innovation at every turn.
In addition to the blockbusters with lots of alcohol and extract that have made the region so famous since the 1980s, the elegant styles are what attract attention. And all this in a continental climate with 2400 hours of sunshine and very little rain. Hot summers, cold winters define the extremes here. The different soils, altitudes, orientations of the vineyards and different philosophies in the cultivation and development of grapes and wines, however, give this diversity.
The trip almost didn’t happen after a cold – fortunately not Corona – initially knocked me out for a few days shortly prior. Thanks to the Consejo Regulador Ribera del Duero and its personal shuttle service, it worked out with a delayed arrival. I landed in the region just in time for the opening of the harvest festivities in Aranda de Duero. And it was more than rewarding.
Even the first evening was exciting, thanks to my Master of Wine colleague Almudena Alberca. We tasted different wines from different terroirs of the Duero region together. For example, their Secreto 2 from Entrecanales Domecq. The grapes come from more sandy soils with limestone at 950 meters above sea level and, accordingly, the wine shows a rather lighter, more elegant style with good intensity and length. The Canto, on the other hand, grows on a soil characterized by river stones and shows more power, structure and body.
I encountered much tradition and elegance the next day at Ismael Arroyo Estate. It was fantastic to see the vineyards with their 50-90 year old wines and the wine cellars from the 16th. century to see. I also enjoyed the wines we tasted – especially the vertical of three Gran Reservas: for the 2014 Gran Reserva I noted: lovely freshness reflecting the cool nights, with cherry, blackberry, boysenberry, tobacco, cedar box and sweet oak. The 2011 Gran Reserva impressed with elegant, fresher style, grainy but attractive tannins. Lots of further potential!
The 2009 Gran Reserva was my favorite in terms of drinkability: black cherries, strawberry, warm brick, nice powdery tannin structure, rounded acidity, elegant, soft, cedar.
During my visit, I was particularly impressed by a special tasting at the Consejo Regulador to which Ribera marketing director Pablo Baquera Peironcely took me. It was set up for buyers from Puerto Rico – an important market for the wines of Ribera – but there was still a place for me. In the clinical white ambience of the tasting room, we had the opportunity to taste 60 wines of all price ranges. Starting with wines under 10 euros to trophy wines of the super-premium segment. Also, here an exciting diversity. Just three of my favorites: Abadia de San Quirce Finca Helena 2016: violets, rose petals, blackberries, cherries, dried plums, mulberries, very fine-grained tannins, excellent length, and depth. Also very well done is the Regina Vides 2019 from Vina Sastre. Ruby red color, fresh acidity. Excellent modern style, still woody, superb length and density, very intense and long and spicy. The beautifully matured Mirat 2001 Reserva from Bodegas Valdevinas also showed superb.
Conclusion after three days of Ribera: I will not wait another five years to visit the region again. It is simply too interesting for that.
Auch hier eine spannende Vielfalt. Nur drei meiner Favoriten: Abadia de San Quirce Finca Helena 2016: Veilchen, Rosenblätter, Brombeeren, Kirschen, getrocknete Pflaumen, Maulbeeren, sehr feinkörnige Tannine, ausgezeichnete Länge und Tiefe. Außerdem sehr gelungen ist der Regina Vides 2019 von Vina Sastre. Rubinrote Farbe, frische Säure. Hervorragender, moderner Stil, noch holzgeprägt, ausgezeichnete Länge und Dichte, intensiv und lang, würzig. Superb präsentierte sich auch der wunderbar gereifte Mirat 2001 Reserva der Bodegas Valdevinas.
Fazit nach drei Tagen Ribera: Ich werde definitiv nicht mehr fünf Jahre warten, um die Region wieder zu besuchen. Dafür ist sie einfach zu interessant.