The Wine Merchant Ribera del Duero supplement 2017

 

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The Wine Merchant Ribera del Duero supplement 2017

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Ribera del Duero Top 45 2017 a Wine Merchant magazine supplement

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Published in association with the Consejo Regulador de la Denominación de Origen Ribera del Duero Distributed with the October 2017 edition of The Wine Merchant magazine © Graham Holter Ltd 2017 www.winemerchantmag.com Registered in England: No 6441762 VAT: 943 8771 82

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Taking a fresh look at Ribera del Duero IT’S EASY TO FORGET THAT RIBERA DEL DUERO IS A YOUNG D.O. It’s a region that takes its place among the classics on many wine merchants’ shelves; home to icon wines and iconic winery architecture. Yet it’s a region that’s evolving all the time as its winemakers discover the full potential of this rugged corner of northern Spain, with its roasting summers and bitterly cold winters. The temptation has often been to reflect the ferocity of the climate with big, bold wines that may take a decade or more to mellow. That’s a style that still enchants many Ribera del Duero aficionados. But these days the region is far more multidimensional and growers are producing wines that express the nuances of the surprisingly varied terroir. The soil map of the region is amazingly complex, and the matrix of options expands still further as winemakers find sites at varying altitudes. Although Tempranillo is the dominant variety, it’s wrong to conclude that Ribera del Duero makes wines in a homogenous way. The big, intense styles have a depth and complexity that can make them world-beaters, but many producers are opting for a lighter wine with the focus on freshness, acidity and balance, often with less reliance on oak. These wines are authentically Ribera del Duero, but they are intended to be enjoyed while they are young, and are finding an eager following. From the perspective of independent wine merchants, Ribera del Duero offers wines that have not seen their reputation trashed by the multiples with mass-market blends or crazy discounting, and which generally offer better value than their counterparts from other premium wine regions around the world. Zoran Ristanovic of City Wine Collection in London is a huge fan. “It’s one of the very rare places that I’ve been that when you say, ‘your wine is really good’, 4 Ribera del Duero Top 45

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they’ll say, ‘oh, my neighbour makes wine even better – go and see my neighbour!’” The wines featured in this supplement provide a useful snapshot of what Ribera del Duero is already achieving, at a variety of price points and in a range of styles. Those who are closest to the action in this dynamic region know that quality, variety and value are only likely to get better in the years to come. TIM ATKIN MW visited Ribera del Duero in July and tasted over 300 wines from which he selected his top 45. His selection forms the basis of this supplement. The descriptions of the wines have been compiled by the Consejo, taken from information provided by each winery. Ribera del Duero Top 45 5

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6 Ribera del Duero Top 45 Vital Statistics • Ribera del Duero is located two hours north of Madrid along the Duero River. It runs 70 miles east to west and 22 miles north to south. • Wine production dates back to the 12th Century when Cistercian Monks planted vineyards. • The DO was only granted as recently as 1982 following the lobbying efforts of vine-growers and winemakers who felt it was time for official recognition for the quality being produced in the region. Today there are over 300 wineries. • Although Tempranillo is the most important grape in Ribera del Duero, and must make up at least 75% of the red wine blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Garnacha Tinta, and the white grape Albillo are also allowed in small quantities. • Ribera del Duero's vineyards are at high altitude, with most lying between 2,500 and 3,000 feet above sea level. Over a third of the vines are over 50 years old and 3% are over 100 years old.

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• The soils are sandy with marl and ancient stones near the Duero river bed, and limestone and clay on the high slopes. • Temperatures can reach over 40˚C in the summer, falling to -20˚C in the winter. Rainfall is between 15-24 inches per year, and there are over 2,400 hours of sunshine. • Cosecha/Joven wines are aged for up to 12 months in barrel, with no bottle ageing. Crianza wines spend at least one year in oak and a further year in bottle. Reservas spend at least one year in oak and two years in bottle. Gran Reserva wines spend a minimum of two years in oak and are aged for a further three years in bottle. For details of UK agents of all wines listed in this year’s Top 45, visit the website at www.winesofriberadelduero.co.uk Ribera del Duero Top 45 7

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B Aalto 2014 In 1999, Aalto was created by Mariano García and Javier Zaccagnini – respectively Vega Sicilia’s winemaking director of 30 years and the head of Ribera del Duero’s Consejo Regulador for six years. Grapes are sourced from 40 to 80-year-old vines in seven villages across Ribera and Burgos, with the addition of grapes from younger vines from Valladolid. With 16 months’ ageing in new oak barrels – half French and half American – this wine offers notes of black fruits, liquorice and roasted coffee alongside spices and fresh tobacco. C Vega Sicilia, Alión 2014 Created as a high-quality wine to drink young, Vega Sicilia’s Alión is an innovative addition to the portfolio of one of the world’s most prestigious producers. Intense and complex, the wine is aged in French oak barrels for 14 to 20 months according to vintage, followed by 15 months in bottle. D Alonso del Yerro, María 2012 María is Alonso del Yerro’s most sublime cuvée. The grapes came from two of Alonso del Yerro’s plots in Santa Marta – ‘Circo’ and ‘Violeta’ – which were vinified separately in wood tanks of 60hl. The wine offers violet and blackberry aromas with well integrated hints of wood on the nose. The intensely flavourful palate is underpinned throughout by the limestone freshness and an almost salty touch. Ribera del Duero Top 45 9

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“climatically and soil-wise, Ribera del Duero has the highest potential in Spain to make wines to rival the best of Bordeaux.” Zoran Ristanovic City Wine Collection, London Once you start going over 500-600 metres there is as much vineyard space as there is in the valley. The vines are about 50, 60 100 years old, and a large number of them are pre-phylloxera or phylloxera-free because of the sand. You get some really extraordinary complexity and intensity and the wines have a great capacity to age. Most of it is organic by default because nothing really lives up there. The most important thing is, the soil is very varied, and extraordinarily high quality if you give it enough attention. If you go there when there’s no leaves on the vines, it’s basically like a chessboard of very different colours of soil – they have a ridiculous amount of soil structures underneath there. The next 20 years belong to Ribera. It’s a wonderful place … and the food is bloody good as well. 1120 RRiibbeerraaDdeell DDuueerroo TToopp 4455

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E Antídoto, La Hormiga 2014 Bodegas Antídoto’s La Hormiga is named after the 1.58ha plot in which the grapes for this Reserva are grown, in the northern part of San Esteban de Gormaz, with pre-phylloxera 95-year-old vines on clay soils at 810m above sea level. The wine was aged for 18 months in French Darnajou barrels, 50% of which were new, and as a result expresses notes of forest floor, spice and smoke. F Arzuaga Navarro, Gran Arzuaga 2011 Florentino Arzuaga founded Bodegas ArzuagaNavarro after purchasing the Finca La Planta in Valladolid. The plots of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Albillo used to make this wine are situated at 900m above sea level. With 20 months’ ageing in French oak, the wine displays a tannic power accompanied by ripe fruit aromas and fine leather notes. The wine can seem austere; starting with matured red fruits blended with cedar aromas and tobacco, which are followed by a mixture of cocoa and wild flowers aromas alongside hints of spices – an unmistakable trademark of the terroir. G Áster Finca Otero 2014 Bodega Áster, founded in 1999, is situated at 830m above sea level on lightly-eroded slopes in a dry, almost barren, area in Anguix (Burgos). The Áster Finca Otero is only made during the best vintages, with grapes taken from a 4ha plot. This wine is the product of the selection of the best barrels and was aged for 16 months. Deep dark cherry with a garnet rim in colour, the bold nose of dark fruits, aniseed and spices is completed by a good balance between alcohol and acidity on the palate. Ribera del Duero Top 45 11

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H Bodegas Pascual Buró, Vendimia Seleccionada 2014 Bodegas Pascual began its history in 1986 in Buros. The 60-year-old Tempranillo vines used are planted at 900m above sea level on calcareous-clay soils. An intense cherry red colour, it displays complex aromas of mixed spices, black tobacco and chocolate on the nose and the palate too – a reminder of the 10 months ageing in 50% French and 50% American oak barrels. I Bodegas Pingón, Altamimbre 2014 Bodegas Pingón was founded in 1997 by several families with the aim of producing premium wines. Their Altamimbre cuvée is made from the oldest vines of the estate. The nose is full of complex aromas, followed by hints of overripe berries and raisins, well blended with the spicy tones of wood and candy as a result of barrel ageing for 25 months. J Briego Adalid, Reserva 2011 The Benito Hernando brothers developed the Bodegas Briego project in La Nava. This wine offers a spectacular intensity of black fruits, violets and cocoa aromas. Aged for 18 months in French and American oak, the elegant wood creates a toasted background with spices. The excellent symbiosis of ripe tannins with the black fruit creates a complex intensity of flavours: liquorice, toffee, American tobacco and fallen leaves. Ribera del Duero Top 45 13

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K Cillar de Silos, Flor de Silos 2015 Amalio Aragon began by buying small plots of high quality vines before becoming a winery owner, with his first harvest in 1995. Today his three children run the Cillar de Silos estate. The old Tempranillo vines are grown in poor and rough land at 900m above sea level. Dark cherry red with garnet, this wine has ripe fruits, liquorice, balsamic tones and spices on the nose. The powerful yet well balanced tannins are the results of 18 months ageing in French oak barrels L Bodegas La Horra, Corimbo 2012 Using experience and knowledge gained in la Rioja, Bodegas Roda started the La Horra project in 1999 with the aim of finding the best terroir for Tempranillo, planting bush vines in La Horra, Roa and nearby villages in Burgos. Corimbo is aged for 14 months in oak barrels, 80% French and 20% American, and as a result is a medium-bodied and expressive wine with well-integrated notes of oak, hints of herbs, clove and even tea alongside a display of red fruits dominated by cherries. M Cruz de Alba 2013 Cruz de Alba is made biodynamically and in small quantities (each bottle is numbered). The wine is aged for 15 months in new French oak and a smaller percentage of American oak barrels prior to a further 10 months in bottle. The result is an intense, red-berry fruit-laden wine with spicy nuances which mingle with cedar and balsamic undertones. Ribera del Duero Top 45 15

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