A Fine Ribera Del Duero

August 5, 2008

If I had to choose, I prefer Ribera Del Duero over Rioja as the prime Spanish region for Tempranillo. The wines are a bit more sophisticated, rounder, and I feel there is more oopmh to them than in Rioja. These words are of course sweeping generalizations as in both regions there are vastly different wines, in some cases so different that it is near impossible to tell that two wines you taste back to back are made from the same grape.

Tonight I had a beautiful tempranillo from the Ribera Del Duero. It is a Crianza, which is a quality denomination in this region. In Rioja, which is near Ribera Del Duero, the wine needs to spend at least 2 years in oak barrels in order to be called Crianza. I am not sure what the law is in Ribera, but this wine spent 13 months in new French oak. It gets that vanilla flavor that you can pick up from wine that has not been over oaked. I feel it has that perfect balance between oak and fruit. 2003 was a particularly hot year all over Europe and Spain was no exception. Because of the heat I think a lot of the wines show more fruit than normal, but the winemakers did an excellent job to balance this with the oak. You get the earthiness that is familiar to Ribera lovers, and it has a slight leathery feeling, though you really have to look for that. The alcohol content is only 13.5%, but the finish is quite alcoholy. In a good way that is. Imagine beautiful velvety red wine with a load of warmth as it goes down. Love it.

All in all I love the wine and would certainly buy it again. Especially at this price.

Name: Torremilanos Crianza, Ribera Del Duero, 2003

Rating: 8.5

Body: Medium to Full

Price: Normally ~$20, this one was $10, an absolute steal

Got it at: Dee Vine Wines, San Francisco, CA