RIBERA DEL DUERO – NOT JUST ABOUT REDS
For a number of years at the various tastings I present I have casually asked those in attendance if they were buying more Rioja wines than Ribera del Duero, or vice versa. Up until, perhaps the last two years, this was almost invariably answered in favour of DO Ribera del Duero.
I was talking, of course, of red wine.
Both DOs have a history of making top class red wines, though it must be admitted that Rioja’s is a far longer history, having been accepted as a Denominación de Origen approximately 6o years before the fledgling DO Ribera del Duero started flapping its wings!
Neither DO has been particularly recognised as an area for great white wines. However, if the white I am about to describe, made by Bodegas Valduero in Ribera del Duero is anything to go by, you can expect many more people to take note of the whites of this excellent red wine DO!
The opposition, too, are starting to have some greater success with their whites, this being in good part due to their allowing, during the last few years, different white wine grape varieties to be used. DO Ribera del Duero’s imminent success will be because of a resurgence of interest in the only white wine variety that is approved by the Consejo Regulador – Albillo. There isn’t much of it around, generally, to be honest – indeed Valduero claims theirs to be the only Albillo made at the moment. However, it is in the ascendancy and certainly well worth seeking out.
The Albillo grapes are harvested from Valduero’s 10 hectare vineyard and taken quickly to the bodega where the gently pressed juice is fermented at a low temperature, to ensure the aromatics of the resulting wine – and I can tell you, it works! There’s a rich and ripe tropical fruit note on the nose as well as some blanched almond nuttiness. It’s rich on the palate too, full, with presence with a super grapefruit acidity which keeps the wine fresh.
It can be served to very good effect with salads and meaty fish and in fact we enjoyed it with roast chicken breast filled with cheese!
Let’s not forget, though, that Ribera del Duero is still famous for its red wines, so it would have been dreadfully ruse of me not to accept the two excellent reds from Bodegas Valduero!
The bodega was established in 1984, at about the same time as the DO was being approved and granted by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture. Indeed, Bodegas Valduero is one of the founding members of the DO.
The head wine-maker is Yolanda García Viadero, daughter of the founder, and a Señora on a mission! Determined to, not only uphold, the tradition fine wine making in Ribera del Duero, this lady wants to develop it further. Señora García is one of an increasing number of women winemakers in Spain who are achieving truly excellent results.
I was sent two of their Élite range, two wines, both made with Tinto Fino, that perhaps demonstrate the philosophy of the bodega. Yolanda is convinced that this variety, one of the other names for Tempranillo, needs time in oak and also in bottle in order to fully capture its excellence. Consequently they make only Crianza through to Gran Reserva red wines.
Valduero Una Cepa, is made from 50 years old vines that have been hand harvested. Even at 50 years old the vines are vigorous enough to produce plenty of bunches – most of which are snipped as the green harvest ensures fewer, but richer grapes. And when I say ‘fewer’ I really mean it – each vine is left with only enough grapes to make one bottle of wine!
Once fermented, the wine is placed in oak barrels where it rests in a very old cellar near the town, whose tunnels and cellar area have been amplified by the family, boasting 50 metres below the land at its deepest! Before release the wine is bottled, remaining in deep storage for a further 12 months.
If you don’t love this wine, you don’t like Spanish wine! Structured, intense and complex the wine has layers of mature red and black fruit with seductive vanilla notes and a touch of leather too! Splendid wine!
Valduero 6 Años, a Gold Medal winner is a wine for those who just love an oaky red! The vines here are 40 years old, and their younger fruit than the above needs a little taming for it to be able to demo the elegance that is required for this wine. Four different oaks are used to age the wine for 36 months. Then, a further 3 years (hence the name!) is spent in bottle before realease.
It’s a wonderful mouthful oak oaky wine, with, for me a little more of the darker fruit notes than red – damsons and black cherries, with the occasional appearance of some loganberry and very ripe blueberry. There’s a caramel note on the nose and some more leather too. (www.bodegasvalduero.com)
PS Next wine paired dinner in Javea, Thurs. 14th June. Please contact me for details!
firstname.lastname@example.org ; Facebook Colin Harkness ; Twitter @colinonwine