Tag: tempranillo

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.

The Tempranillo grape is the fastest growing in culture worldwide

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In the MW symposium held in May in Florence, grape geneticist José Vouillamoz revealed which are the grapes and countries that are growing faster in terms of culture worldwide, and the most prominent grapes were unexpected.

Tempranillo plantations have increased more than any other grape between 2000 and 2010, having considered the most widely planted varieties in the world.

Vouillamoz said the two most cultivated varieties 10 years ago were white, Airen from Spain and Rkatsiteli from Eastern Europe. They were the largest in terms of cultivated surface per vineyard worldwide, but their numbers had fallen since then to the present.

Despite this, in 2010 Airen remained the third most widely planted grape in the world, after Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but ahead of Tempranillo, according to Vouillamoz. But when you consider the growth rates and the rapid increase in sown area in the last decade, this order is reversed, leaving Tempranillo at first place, then Syrah, and finally Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

The increase in sown area in the last decade provides important data on what will be expected in the coming years regarding the leadership of plantations.

?Cabernet Sauvignon is grown everywhere, so Tempranillo will probably too? said Vouillamoz, offering a possible explanation for the significant planting increase of this Spanish grape -where they are more than 200.000 hectares of plantations-, although it is also widely planted in Portugal, and increasingly in Australia; and probably its planting area will continue to expand.

As for the countries that see a rapid growth in the vineyard area, the largest expansion can be found in China and India, according to Vouillamoz.

Giving a look to the future, Vouillamoz indicated that by 2050 India will have overtaken China in plantations, as the population grows and, with it, wine consumers.

Today we recommend two superb wines with Tempranillo:

 TAGS:Pruno 2012Pruno 2012

Pruno 2012

 

 

 TAGS:Hacienda López de Haro Crianza 2011Hacienda López de Haro Crianza 2011

Hacienda López de Haro Crianza 2011

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:

 TAGS:Faustino I Gran Reserva 1964Faustino I Gran Reserva 1964

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:

 TAGS:Vizcarra Senda del Oro 2011Vizcarra Senda del Oro 2011

Vizcarra Senda del Oro 2011

 

 

 TAGS:Hito 2009Hito 2009

Hito 2009

Synonyms for grape names

Uvas

Bastardo (Bastard), Periquita (lovebird), Rabigato (tailed cat) … we are speaking, of course, of the names of grapes.

There are plenty of vines to make wine, many of which are very popular in the world. But these grapes have more than just one name, usually due to their areas of origin where they are called by different names. That’s why we have compiled for you the most famous grapes and their other names.

  • Tempranillo – This grape of Spanish origin, receives some similar name and some additions such as Tempranillo Rioja, Tempranillo from Rioja, Tempranillo from Perralta, Tempranillo from Rioza and the feminine form would be Tempranilla, synonym of Tempranillo. But undoubtedly the most popular synonyms are Tinto Fino (Ribera Del Duero), Tinta del Pais (in Rioja and Ribera del Duero) and Tinta de Toro (Toro). In Catalonia the name is Ull de Llebre, and in Portugal is used with the name of Tinta Roriz, eing an important part of the usual mix of Porto wine. It is Less frequently called Cencibel de la Mancha, Tinto de Toro, and Tinto de Madrid, Aragonese Tinta, Arganda, Cencibel Chinchillana, Escobera, Garnacho, Foño, Jaciuera, Black of Mesa, Grenache Logroño, Arinha Tinto, Tinta Santiago, Montereiro Tinta, Riojano Tinto, Valdepeñas, Verdiell and Vid de Aranda.
  • GarnachaGarnacha of Spanish origin, called “Garnacha tintorera” is also known as Alicante, Alicante Bouschet, Moratón, Negral, Tinto basto, and just as a Tintorera. The Garnacha Tinta, also receives many synonyms as: carignan rouge, Carignane rosso, rosso carinagne, elegant, francese, black garnaccho, common Garnacha, Grenache black alloying, alloying di Rivalto, alloying poggiarelli, Grenache common Black Grenache, Garnacha black, Grenache Grenache red or gray Garnache in Castilla y Leon and Catalonia, garnatxa black garnatxa country, or garnatjo or Garnatxo, in the Maresme (Catalonia) and at the north of Catalonia, Giró or Gironet in Mallorca, Granaccia, toccai rosso and grape from Spain ‘uva di spagna’, among others.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon – Undoubtedly one of the grapes most commonly used in winemaking, this popularity gives it many synonyms such as bordeaux, sauvignon rouge, petit Bouchet, Carbonet, marchoupet, Vaucluse, carmenet, burgundy red, castet, Verona, board Breton, Cabernet sovinjon, bidure, Navarre, lafet, petit cabernet and petit Vidure among others.
  • Syrah – In other countries outside of France, country of origin of this grape it is also called Shiraz (Australia and New Zealand). But in France it is given names like: Candive Noir, Entournerein, Hignin Noir, Plan de la Biaune, Schiraz, Sérine, Séräne, Sirac, Syra and Syrac.
  • Macabeo – Is a grape of Spanish origin, also called: Alcañol, Alcañón, Blanca de Daroca, Charas Blanc, Forcalla, Gredelín, Lardot, Maccabeu, Perpignan, la cola de Renard, Rossan, Viuna or Viura, being the last two the most popular synonyms together with Alcañol.
  • AirenIs the more cultivated white grape in Spain, and there gets names like Lairén, mantuo laeren, valdepeñas, laeren del rye, valdepenero, aidén, manchega, forcallada, forcallat, and lairén.
  • Chardonnay – This grape originated in Burgundy goes by many names, among them are: ardone, klevanjka biela, chatey petit, sainte marie petite, chaudenet, rousseau, rouci bile, bargeois blanc, arboisier, chardennet, arnaison blanc, luisant, aubaine, auvernat blanc, epinette blanche, moulon, plant de tonnerre, maconnais, auxois blanc, noirien blanc, melon blanc, gentil blanc, chablis, arnoison, beaumois, pinot chardonnay, clevner weiss, auvernas blanc, auxerrois blanc, petit chatey, petite saint-marie, pinot blanc a cramant, melon d’arbois, gelber weissburgunder, feinburgunder, roussot, blanc de champagne, breisgauer sussling, romeret, morillon blanc, feherburgundi, pinot blanc chardonnay, weissedler, auvergnat blanc, epinette de champagne, ericey blanc, grosse bourgogne, lisant, luizant, luizannais, luzannois, maurillon blanc, moreau blanc, romere, burgundi feher, claevner, klawner, weiss silber, rulander weiss, feher chardonnay, shardone, and pino shardone.
  • Bonarda – This grape is called in France: Fouce noir. And in Italy: Dolcetto Nero.

Shall we drink a few wines? We recommend you some wines with a mixture of grapes (blend or coupage) among the tastiest on the market: 

 

 TAGS:Viña Albina Reserva 2004Viña Albina Reserva 2004

The most typical blend from Rioja is Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo, combined in this wine to create a fantastic range of aromas and flavour.

Buy Viña Albina Reserva 2004 8,95

 

 

 TAGS:Pago de Carraovejas Crianza 2008Pago de Carraovejas Crianza 2008

Pago de Carraovejas is one of the mythical wineries of Ribera del Duero. This great wine is made from a mixture in which the protagonist is the Tempranillo, accompanied by Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

 TAGS:Buy Pago de Carraovejas Crianza 2008 22,30