Time to hop out, as we've reached our destination. A wonderful hot place in the summer, nearly in the heart of Spain, sandwiched between Madrid in the South and the Rioja region in the North and the Duero River flowing through its midsection.[see map]. Many believe that the wine-making here goes back over 2,000 years in the Ribera del Duero, as some enterprising young geologists sites as evidence, the find of 66-meter mosaic of Bacchus, "the god of wine" that was unearthed in relatively recent dig at Baños de Valdearados, good enough for me.
Many like to think of this region as the Napa Valley of Spain. Because like the wines of Napa, the vino you find being bottled in Ribera del Duero is smoking hot and full bodied.While many who encounter these wines for the first time may think "wow", this vino is big and powerful, they also offer something very familiar to the California palate, fruit-forward. Many folks [snobs] liken the wines of this region to an international style of sorts, but my impression is that these wines don't belong to the enormous category of the homogenized, as some critics would have you believe.
These wines offer something many Napa reds typically don't and that's sultry-bit of smoke. You may be thinking "smoke" why would I want that? Well think of it this way, when you encounter a whiff of smoke-goodness from the neighbors BBQ and you're thinking, "damn that smells so good", it gets your taste buds tingling. This is the essence that has been captured in the wines of Ribera del Duero, the fume [not a mouth on the tail-pipe experience] is well integrated, with an abundance of seducing ripe dark/red fruit flavors and aromas.
The wines of Ribera del Duero are a sharp contrast to the wines of say the Rioja region. Because what you will typically find in Rioja are red wines [Tempranillo], which are less about ripe fruit and more about acidity, minerality on the dry-rustic side of the equation, conveying the image of a dirty-sexy wine, that will require mondo amounts of decanting to fully be appreciated. Wines from the RDD are produced from Tempranillo or as it's known locally Tinto Fino, which arguably is the most famous of Spain's native grapes, a vibrant, aromatic varietal, capable of delivering a lot of bang for the buck on the flavor scale. Tempranillo is the work-horse grape of the well-known Spanish wine-regions of Rioja and Ribera del Duero.
On the other side of the coin, the wines from Ribera del Dueros are winetastic from the first splash to the last drop and show what tempranillo is capable of in the right hands. The perfect accompaniment to the summer grilling season, as these wines are dripping with abundant fruit-forward flavors [not over-whelming] and aromas and far-less about heavy-handed acidity and dry-dusty tannins that make your teeth feel like you have attached cotton-balls. The wines of Ribera Del Dueros are rich and welcoming, will gain further complexity and sophistication from a few years in the cellar, while delivering real quality quaffing for pennies on the dollar in sharp contrast to a many Napa Cab.
Time for the review, in today's wine spot-light is the 2004 Valderiz Ribera del Duero, a wine I picked up at Costco for the screaming low price of $25, the QPR is through the roof and won't last once this review hits the publish button [as this wine sells for $38 most other places]. This wine deserves, no actually requires my "run, don't walk" buy recommendation.
Swirly-swish, Sniff and Slurp: Into the glass a beautiful nearly opaque purple/Burgundy colored core, a brush-stroke of brick on the rim. On first sniff, evocative aromas of sweet-smoke, pencil shavings, dried red fruits and black licorice. After the first splash down, more of the same from the nose, the red/dark fruit is a flourish of round, forward plummy sweet berries, licorice, a bit of leather, coupled with vanilla spices and just a dusting cocoa nuances. The finish is long and sumptuous. A real crowd pleaser, balanced and power and finesse.
The 2004 Valderiz spent 18 months in French and American oak, 60% new. While some may suggest further aging, why wait it's drinking "fab" right now and is priced for the weekly Wine-Wednesday quaff, so don't delay drink now and drink often.
What's the Score: I gave this wine score of 92 points, it's a flat-out fantastic quaff. A real Spanish beauty you'll not only want to take out for a first date, but possibly one to take home to meet the parents. The QPR is quite good, makes for a wonderful mid-week quaff that's licensed to thrill.
Other Tasty Quaffs: Other wines you may find tantalizing as well are the Arzuaga Reserva or Valduero Reserva. You will find many of the Ribera del Duero 2004's and 05's are drinking rather fabulously right now. Another couple wines from this area that are immediately approachable on flavor and price [under $17] is the 2007 Creta Roble Ribera del Duero or the 2006 Emilio Moro give all of these wines a swirl and let me know what you think.
Other Voices: Mr.Robert Parker's Wine Advocate gave this wine a score of 93 points and had this to say about this wonderful juice. "It comes from a stony soil reminiscent of Chateauneuf du Pape. Purple-colored, it offers a superb bouquet of wood smoke, pencil lead, scorched earth, black cherry, and blackberry liqueur. Intense, complex, and opulent, it has layers of succulent black fruits and enough structure to evolve for 6-8 years in the cellar. Beautifully balanced and lengthy, it should drink well through 2030."
I wish I could have found much better video on the RBD, but the majority of them were not in English and the other videos I found were of pour quality or really didn't have any "real" bearing on the subject. At least Gary delivers some good alternative viewpoints on the subject and reviews a few differents wines from this region, but the video is a bit long, I recommend a little fast-fwd action and skip the last 2 minutes. That's is all for today folks, I hope you'll will joint me next time as we explore the Tuscan landscape once more. Until next time sip long and prosper, cheers!