Tag: ribera del duero

Rioja vs Ribera

TAGS:undefinedAt first sight, the issue might appear trivial, however, several customers recently asked me the following question: “What is the difference between the wines from the Rioja and those from the Ribera del Duero?”. What’s more, according to my experience, the next question tends to concern the price difference. This is why I thought an article would be the ideal opportunity to come back on the topic, especially considering that Christmas is at the door and we should be thinking about which wine to open during the holiday season.

The most famous Designations of Origin in Spain and those whose wines sell best are, beyond any doubt, the Rioja and the Ribera del Duero. Their red wines are famous not only in Spain but worldwide. Each receives a fervent support from their amateurs whose positions hardly seem compatible. But what are the differences between these regions’ red wines? In order to answer, I have to go through some of the “boring” differences … Before getting to the interesting part!

The creation

La Rioja has been a Designation of Origin (Denominación de Origen, DO) since 1925 and even received the “Denominación de Origen Calificada, DOC” in 1991, which implies an excellent quality. On the other hand, the Ribera del Duero is a relatively new DO as it was only recognized in 1982.

The geographical situation

The Rioja  DOC’s production area is located in Northern Spain on the banks of the Ebro river, mainly in the autonomous communities of the Rioja and the Basque Country. Moreover, the region is subdivided into three geographical designations: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja. All in all, the DO counts 63.593 hectares of vineyards producing between 280 and 300 million litres (90% of red, 5% of white and 5% of rosé).

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The production area of the Ribera del Duero DO stretches over the south-east of Castile and León, mostly in the provinces of Burgos, Segovia, Valladolid and Soria. There are 22.320 hectares of vineyards which produce about 130 million litres (98% of red and 2% of rosé).

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Regarding the geographical situation, it is not so much the formal delimitation between the various areas that matters but rather their soils or “terroir” as well as their respective climate. The soils and the climate determine the wine quality among other factors.

As to the Rioja DOC, generally speaking for the three production areas, the climate is continental, moderate, and almost Mediterranean in the Rioja Baja’s case. The mild temperatures allow for a slow and careful maturation of the grapes. The designation is characterized by a diversity of soils, though clay-calcareous, clay-ferrous and alluvial types of soil predominate.

Typical for the Ribera del Duero DO is the extreme continental climate along with scarce rainfalls. Winters are cold with icy winds whereas summers are hot and dry but with low nocturnal temperatures. As a result, the grape ripens faster and is more concentrated. Soils are rather diverse in this DO even if limestone prevails.

Varieties of grape

The main grape variety grown in both DOs is the Tempranillo but that is where their similarity ends. Indeed, in the Rioja, the allowed red varietals include the Tempranillo (the most common), the dark Grenache, the Carignan and the Graciano as well as three white varietals: the Malvasia, the Macabeu and the white Grenache.

In the Ribera del Duero, red varieties include the Tempranillo, also called locally Tinto  Fino or Tinta del País, the Cabernet, the Sauvignon, the Merlot and the Malbec. Additionally, they have a small amount of Grenache and, for whites, the Albillo.

Although the Tempranillo is the most commonly grown and used varietal in the elaboration of wines from both DOs, their wines remain truly different.

Aroma, power in the mouth, alcohol and alcohol level, colour and savour

In short, red wines from the Rioja can be described as sweet and hardly astringent. They do not leave a dry feeling in the mouth and are not harsh.

Ribera del Duero’s wines are more concentrated and intense both in their colour and their savour thanks to the extreme climate and the grape’s quicker maturation. They give a sensation of greater astringency, dryness and harshness in the mouth. They can be described as powerful.

For the same reasons as their power in the mouth, wines from the Ribera de Duero have a higher level of alcohol than those from the Rioja. Though, if the wines are well elaborated, one does not necessarily notice their higher alcohol content.

The Rioja wines’ aroma reminds us of red fruits and they leave a fresh aftertaste thanks to their acidity. The aroma of the Ribera del Duero wines calls ripe fruits to mind, appears smoother and rounder in the mouth and tends to end with a lactic hint, similar to a strawberry yoghurt.

Both DOs classify their wines according to their time of ageing in barrels or bottles (Crianza):

  • Joven / Roble (they do not age in wooden barrels neither do they mature in barrels for more than 12 months)
  • Crianza (minimum two years of ageing, one of which in a barrel)
  • Reserva (minimum three years of ageing, one in a barrel and the other in bottle)
  • Gran Reserva (minimum five years of ageing, two in a barrel and three in bottle)

The graph below shows the ageing potential of wines over time according to their “Crianza”. For both DOs, young wines should be drunk rapidly, whereas “Crianza” and “Reserva” wines can be savoured over a longer period.

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The boring, yet objective, part is finally over and we can now focus on the more interesting part.

The price difference

Why are Rioja wines generally cheaper than the Ribera del Duero’s? I answered this question to a large extent in my previous explanations: the production area and the number of litres produced in the Rioja is sensibly higher than in the Ribera. Indeed, we still have in mind the Rioja’s 63.593 hectares of vineyards in contrast to “only” 22.320 hectares in the Ribera. Moreover, the climate has a defining influence. Indeed, it is easier to produce wine in the Rioja than under the Ribera’s extreme conditions. The Ribera’s cellars face more frost problems which limit the yields of the vines. Less wine, higher prices!

To summarize, these DOs are different regions with different soils, climates and varietals. So, why do people keep arguing over the superiority of one designation over the other? To each his own tastes, no? Or should I prefer meat over fish?

This being said, some issues and disagreements are brought to light. Nowadays, several estates in the Rioja Alavesa wish to break away from their current DO to create a new one (“D.O. Viñedos de Álava”). Local Alavese winegrowers (about 42) promote the differences and the unique character of their wines. If we consider the French or Italian classification system, their demands would be quite sensible. In 2015, the famous ARTADI Bodega quit the Rioja DO. The winemaker justified his choice declaring, “Renowned wine regions such as Bordeaux (with 52 sub-designations) or Burgundy (96) offer their consumers wines which evoke specific areas. It is essential to provide the consumers with the opportunity to discover our land’s diversity, which grants quality wines their uniqueness and authenticity”.

While they are right to wish for a distinct recognition and to promote their wines’ particularities, I might have some reservations. Indeed, let us not forget that the reputation and the fame of the Rioja wines are the result of its winegrowers’ efforts and dedication, but also the considerable resources deployed by the DOs to support their products’ commercialisation and promotion. It is necessary to thank the DOs for their great work. Yet, it can hardly be otherwise: just like every child will eventually stand on its own feet and trace its own path, winegrowers will aspire to a greater autonomy and step outside the DOs’ framework.

In the Ribera del Duero’s case, the situation is quite different. Here, we talk about those excluded from the DO. Some of the most famous cellars of the Castile and León region such as Mauro, Abadía Retuerta, Bodegas Leda, … Do not belong to the Ribera del Duero DO but to the “Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León”. Is it a problem? Abadía Retuerta answers, “At Abadía Retuerta, we could say that our auto-regulation is much stricter than other designations. Though our application to the Ribera del Duero was refused, today, we can affirm that this event is one of the secrets of Abadía Retuerta’s success. We are currently in touch with the administration to create our own designation in compliance with the recently voted Wine Law”.

As for Mauro, they are among the best red wines from Spain and acknowledged as such by the greatest critics in the world.

Every day in France, there are more winemakers who decide to break away from the designation of origin and to commercialize their wines under the name of “Vin de France”. It might be time for designations to rebrand or reinvent themselves. A similar situation is happening in Catalonia with the Cava DO where several estates quit their DO but, unlike other regions, they created two classifications: Clàssic Penedès and Cava de Paraje.

But let’s get back to our DOs: Would it be more sensible or relevant to distinguish Modern vs Classical wines? Are the former better than the latter?

It would like asking whether one prefers our grandmother’s traditional recipes or sushi … Wouldn’t it be possible to enjoy both? These are two totally different types of vinification and we shouldn’t compare them.

The so-called modern wines are usually more full-bodied and fleshy, they also have a greater intensity as well as a greater power and a higher alcohol content. These wines undergo their ageing process in new barrels (my best friends …). At first, it might sound unsavoury, but nothing is further from the truth! These wines’ problem is that they are drunk too soon, too young. They must remain in their bottle for 10 years before consumption in order to let them balance themselves and achieve their ideal drinking point. They should not be consumed too soon.

On the contrary, classical wines, my personal favourite, are left for a long period of time in used barrels, that is, in barrels previously used to mature other wines. The wood’s influence on the wine quality decreases and the wine becomes smoother. Moreover, once bottled, the wines are stocked in cellars for some time before commercialisation. For example, Viña Tondonia, La Rioja Alta, Vega Sicilia are wines bearing a tile colour with an evolved nuance and a very agreeable mouth.

Actually, the Rioja vs Ribera distinction does not really make sense. There are safe bets in both DOs, indispensable great wines and small cellars to give them a novel distinction. When well elaborated, a good wine with its own character can be found in every cellar and suit every pocket.

This being said, the wine landscape in Spain has tremendously changed over a short period of time. Some smaller regions unveil an incredible and fantastical potential thanks to a new generation of winegrowers who travelled, studied and worked in Spain or abroad with great winemakers. This generation shows a clear will to develop their vineyards, autochthonous varietals and quality wines which deserved to be known, and of course, enjoyed.

TAGS:Campo Viejo TempranilloCampo Viejo Tempranillo

Campo Viejo Tempranillo, a red wine from Rioja that is based on Tempranillo grapes.

 

TAGS:Pruno 2014

Pruno 2014

Pruno 2014, a red wine from Ribera del Duero vinified with cabernet sauvignon and tinta fina.

Rice cheeks in red wine

 TAGS:The combination of cheeks with rice and red Rioja wine, for example, is a perfect and tasty dish for both a casual meal or for a more elaborate dinner. It is suitable for the whole family, as it has the necessary nutrients for both children and adults. The recipe is for four people:

Ingredients:

  • 2 veal cheeks
  • 250 gr of rice
  • 1 onion
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 leek
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • Oil, salt and a pepper
  • 1 liter of water
  • Broth
  • A few sprigs of rosemary, basil or parsley

Elaboration: 

Start cutting the cheek pieces but it is always better to aks the butcher to do it first. Then cut the carrot and leek and introduce it in a pot with a bit of oil.

When hot, add it to the same pot as the cheek, throw red wine (you can buy cheap Rioja red wine, in this case the quality of the wine does not have a major impact on the finale dish) water and let boil for about 40 minutes. We recommend going looking, uncovering or tasting the mixture as needed.

When cool, crush the vegetables and put the cheek in a bowl. In a pan put the onion and throw the rice, broth and salt. Let it cook 20 minutes stirring so that the rice does not stick.

Once the cheek is cut, we put them in a pan with a little oil, along with selected spices, rosemary, parsley, basil … add it to the pan and mix with rice for approximately 10 minutes. Now we can serve with a garnish of spices, a branch of parsley or rosemary to give a green touch to the dish.

Certain broth and stews can be indigestible if they get too cold, so don?t wait too long! If children do not end up being comfortable with the dish, rice can be substituted for thin cubes of fries, or a little puree, you will prepare this dish faster.

 TAGS:Arzuaga Crianza 2011Arzuaga Crianza 2011

Arzuaga Crianza 2011

 

 

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Mcguigan Estate Shiraz 2012

Classic coupages

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What is a coupage? This word of French origin, is used to define the wine that have been developed using different grapes, unlike varietals and monovarietal wines, made of 100% of the same grape.

But even if we understand the coupage as a mix, this does not mean that we put different grapes to “fill? the tank and make wine. On the contrary, for centuries the relationship between grapes has been studied. The best combinations were investigated to get a wonderful wine. In fact, in most cellars each coupage is elaborated separately (ie, a different wine of each variety is done), and is sometimes aged separately. It is only before the bottling that the flavor is studied to find the perfect mix.

In some areas this coupage or mixture of grapes has become part of their identity, for example:

  • The classic coupage of Rioja is made of Tempranillo, Mazuelo and Graciano.
  • The traditional cava is made from Macabeo, Parellada and xarel.lo, while
  • French sparkling champagne choose the combination of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.
  • In Porto, a historic area of sweet wines, one can find up to 6 coupages : Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Cao, Tinta Amarela, tinta Barroca and Tinta Roriz, although they can make wines with only 3 or 4 of these grapes.
  • About sweet wines, in Sauternes, the sweet white area with noble rot, they usually combine Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
  • And in France, many sub areas of Bordeaux traditionally use some combination of these grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot.
  • Even the most “modern” areas have their own combinations: for example, in Australia there is a widely used coupage called “GSM?: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.
  • And speaking of “modern” areas in Spain, at least more modern than the historical Rioja, in the Ribera del Duero, where many of the wines are monovarietal Tempranillo, you can also find coupages with Cabernet Sauvignon to offer some of the great wines of this area.

Do you have a favorite coupage? Do you know any ?famous” coupage in other areas? Today we recommend 2 wines with seducing coupages:

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Faustino I Gran Reserva 1964

 

 

 TAGS:Antinori Tignanello 2010Antinori Tignanello 2010

Antinori Tignanello 2010

Ribera del Duero: Wine route in Spain

 TAGS:The Ribera Del Duero is a region with perfect climatic and soil conditions for making the most delicious wines, and its young designation of origin (30 years old only) is in constant growth in the global market.

The route of the Ribera Del Duero is located in the northern plateau, passing through Burgos, Segovia, Soria and Vallalolid. This route consists of 100 villages along 115 miles. The Ribera del Duero floors are extremely suitable for growing grapes, resulting a strong flavor full of character that is transmitted to the wines made from it.

The Tempranillo grape is the main one, used for the rosé wines as well as for every type of reds from Ribera Del Duero: young red wines, crianza reserves or gran reserves. This grape, native to the area, prints its color, aroma and body that are so characteristic of those wines. There are more than 900 brands under the name of origin Ribera Del Duero, prepared with care and attention to the high quality standards imposed in its 270 wineries.

Additionally, the Ribera Del Duero underground cellars can be visited; some of them have the size of Penafiel Castle, in which you can find the Wine Provincial Museum, where you can discover all the history of the wines of this popular area.

If you decide to visit the Ribera Del Duero don?t miss the romantic art of Soriana area, the medieval towns of Penaranda del Duero and the impressive underground cellars of 12 meters deep, with supervised visits allowed all year.

In the Ribera Del Duero you can enjoy the most beautiful sceneries. This is an ideal route to share with friends, family or partner, with activities such as an experience of beauty treatments through wine therapy, ideal for enjoying a perfect honeymoon.

Want to know how does the Duero taste? Today we recommend:

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Vizcarra Senda del Oro 2011

 

 

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Hito 2009

2012: three best DOs from Spain

 TAGS:I know that I’m going to surprise you with my choices of designations of origin for 2012. The news is that I have knocked out two of my favorites: DO Ribera del Duero and DO Toro, to include others, it is quite a step. The reason is that I do not want to be so repetitive and that tasting new wines is always fun.

The first on this podium is the DOCA Rioja, which gives us so much satisfaction when we are outside Spain, as it is the easiest to find and everyone knows or have heard about it. Already within our borders, we find that Rioja is a great region (of which I am a fan) for the beauty of its landscapes, its rich cuisine (also regarding sweets, do not think that stewed potatoes with chorizo Rioja-style are all what they have to offer) and the fantastic wineries, particularly proliferating in the Haro area.

I recommend a one day escape visit to the Viña Tondonia facilities (where I went to this summer and left absolutely delighted), to have the chance to experience a truly old winery and tasting that Viña Tondonia Blanco Crianza that has me completely under its spelt.

I will also have to suggest that once out of the cellar when the visit and the wine taste is over you can wander through the streets of the town and you can as well take the car and go visit to Santo Domingo de la Calzada (15 minute drive) to enjoy the full flavour of the Rioja in a legend and pilgrim tradition place.

Ribera del Guadiana and VT Extremadura would be in second position on the podium because between Salitre 2009 and Habla num. 10 I am beside myself with joy. This region, from which soil is so difficult to extract a good pair of grapes to make wine, has been giving it all lately and these two wines are the best prove of it. And if despite all the lines that I have dedicated to the Bodega Habla there is still someone who has not yet tasted some of its wines, they can ask for it upon request in their letter to Santa.

Finally, the bronze was going to go to the DOQ, Priorat which deserves it for their latest releases and for so many years in the spotlight (and in a particularly privileged place my cellar), but I have instead decided to nominate for it to VT Mallorca because of the surprising combinations I always find in its wines and for the unexpectedness of the image in most of its bottles, which bring a breath of fresh air to the table, especially if you choose one of its wines to accompany some of those delicious vegetables cakes they specialize in.

 

Featured cellars in Ribera del Duero

 - Lands with the best vineyards in the world and a rich DO which provides extreme quality wines. Yes, we speak of the Ribera del Duero and its wine atmosphere that permeates every corner of the region.

It must be acknowledged that some aspects of the importance of this DO is due to the different cellars that since the early 80s, watched over the production of exquisite wines that today are the stars of the most prominent tables in restaurants in many countries.

Currently, there are over 200 wineries that shape this wine region, which are the main producers of this outstanding Spanish DO. Let’s take a look at some of the most important cellars. Are you coming?

We?ll do some wine tourism in this region and find Bodegas Protos, in Peñafiel, Valladolid, a place where architecture has renovated its facilities, making of it a pilgrimage cellar for wine lovers in general. We can take guided tours, host events, see the vineyards and even try its wines.

Bodegas Comenge, in Curiel de Duero, is a great example of tradition and modernity. Both concepts are blended to perfection and it allows visiting its facilities and even taking a ride with a carriage over its vineyards.

We cannot fail to mention Bodegas Vega Sicilia, a renewed classic that offers wines with distinction. They have special reserve wines only found in some places. In Langa de Duero, Bodegas Valdeviñas has vineyards over 50 years old, being already a reference name within this DO.

But not all are long established cellars. In Ribera del Duero are created every day new wineries, such as Tomas Postigo, owned by the winemaker of the same name, which reinterpret every day this DO in order to make it one of the most innovative wine regions in Spain.

Have you run this area or visited any of its cellars? Tell us about it!

Ribera del Duero’s secret

 TAGS:Ribera del Duero wines usually do not disappoint and you also can find some very good, or excellent, affordable to almost all budgets. But if you want to give yourself a treat you can also find here some of the most expensive wines of Spain.

This wine region is preferred among others by the younger generation that, after some years of absence returns to imbibe of wine culture… and of course to drink wine. Beer and spirits go getting aside. Wine rules.

We enjoy wines with body, round character. We like red wines with personality and strength. The red wines from Ribera del Duero give the profile and therefore they are among the favorites of many of us. And I include myself, because I love them.

But in this region there are other names with great power. Rueda, for all those white wines from Verdejo Kingdom; Toro, with fabulous red wine authors; and Cigales, famous for the pink, but with some truly spectacular reds, like Caesar Príncipe, which I love and highly recommend, or Cigales Aleno Foster 1999, also very good.

Another incentive is the possibility of visiting the wineries and attending a tasting guided by experts and connoisseurs throughout the process. These professionals will give us details about the vintage, the aging and for example the reason for the choice of this type of wood for the barrels.

In some cases you may also spend the night in the cellar, as many of them have adapted their facilities to the wine tourism fashion and have built a small hotel or some other kind of accommodation that can be enjoyed close to the original structure.

This way you can enjoy an entire weekend surrounded very close by your favorite stocks and knowing the history of the wine you like most. In addition, generally, the wineries that offer the opportunity to spend an entire weekend of wine tourism, complete their program with a dinner or lunch where the most traditional or the avant-garde food pairing are present, making a wine tourism short trip into 360 experience which will get us us into the juiciest side of the wine world.

Another option is to go to visit the winery where some wine we still don?t know is produced. Thus we have an added incentive, the surprise element, which enriches the experience by allowing us to remember when was the first time we tried it, where were we then and who with. The perfect excuse to join two passions: wine and travel.

 TAGS:Pruno 2009Pruno 2009

Pruno 2009, fruity with a great touch of wood flavours

 

 

 TAGS:Carmelo Rodero Crianza 2008Carmelo Rodero Crianza 2008

Carmelo Rodero Crianza 2008, a great wine with a very affordable price

Rioja and Ribera del Duero, excellent vintages in 2010

VintagesThis week Appellations of Origin Rioja and Ribera del Duero have made public the status of the vintage 2010. In both cases it was considered that 2010 should be considered “excellent.”

The rating of the vintage is done after putting controls on young wines of each appellation, by the respective Control Board. These young wines that already are on sale, can at the same time predict the average quality of the Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva wines which will come out in the next years.

In Rioja, the Denomination of Origin covers an area of 100 km. long by 40km. maximum wide, that is, a lot of land. Each of the 3 Subareas (Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa) has a very different type of soil, and climates (going though the Mediterranean to continental), so the conditions have not been the same for all, neither can wine come out equal. Another thing is the case of very large production wineries that buy grapes throughout the whole D.O., so they are able to maintain a standardized flavor year after year.

We return to the classic debate about the validity of the myth of vintages, especially in countries like Spain with DO’s so extensive, and having in mind that the rating agency depends on those wineries …
On the other hand, if malicious, we could think on the commercial advantage of a good vintage in times of crisis.

In the case of Ribera del Duero, that feeling is accentuated because this is the second vintage in a row with a rating of “excellent” after 2009. In fact, after the official presentation of the score, has been ensured that “although it seemed impossible, the vintage 2010 will be even better than 2009.”

José Trillo, Chairman of the Denomination of Origin, said: “This is the miracle of the Ribera. So a year like 2010, where late frosts in May, rain and wind in full bloom in June , did not auger anything positive ,it also brought us and early summer and fall with an optimal temperature and that has left us with a historical and abundant harvest. “

Anyway, now is your turn. Taste wines and decide whether it is true that this vintage is better than the previous one or not, so we’ll recommend 3 young wines of 2010 vintage for you to compare:

  • Milflores 2010: An excellent spring wine, tasty, fruity, lively on the palate. A Rioja wine from Bodegas Palacio for everyone’s taste and wit a good price.
  • Murmurón 2010: A young wine from the Bodega Sierra Cantabria, fresh and elegant in equal measure. Good wine.
  • Quintanal 2010: We go to the Ribera del Duero. Although its best known wines are crianzas, there is a range of young wines that are worth to consider. This Quintanal Roble 2010 is a good mix of fruit and wood scent, making it perfect for any meal.