Archived entries for Ribera del Duero

Wine Club Reunited: Spanish Heavy Hitters, White Flights, Napa Finds and Cajun Cuisine

Picture a group of very driven, professional folks that have a passion for wine, like to have fun, enjoy off the beaten path wines and make sure to not take ourselves too seriously.  The last part a total 180 from what you would expect a somewhat serious wine club to look like especially from a group representing a snapshot of corporate America.

We tried taking ourselves too seriously in the beginning where we voted members in, selected favorite wines and then tried to store them for the right period of time before opening and officially voting on our favorites. That all changed one fateful night of tasting Turley Zinfandels where we threw all decorum out the window and had an amazing time.  There may or may not be a YouTube video that you will never find capturing our version of MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This.”  Throughout the years, we changed the goal of the club to enjoying wines we haven’t had before while putting the emphasis on fun.  And, you know, I ended up learning and retaining a lot more knowledge.

As most groups go, life got in the way for awhile and we had not met in a few months.  When Peter and Jen revived the group, I was excited. I walked in with my Spiegelau glasses and no idea of what surprises were in store.

It turns out we were having a Mardi Gras theme with homemade Cajun food.  Our hosts wanted to do a Spanish red theme, but knew that it wouldn’t match the food, so another theme was added to go with the dinner.  We started with wines that would go well with spicy food.  Our first line-up included the following:


  • Chateau Bonnet Entre-Deux-Mers Blanc 2011 – a blend of sauvignon blanc, semillon and muscadelle with grapefruit, minerality and a little hint of sweetness.  Great wine under $10.
  • Chateau Guibon  2011 – lots of pear and melon with a nice balance from the blend of Semillon, sauvignon blanc and muscadelle.  This wine is led by the Semillon and is more muted than the first.  Another nice white under $10.
  • Leyda Sauvignon Blanc 09 – lots of citrus with lime, grapefruit and green apple.  Great minerality and nice finish. Also in the $10 range and a great bargain.
  • Villa Maria Reserve Wairau Valley Sauvignon Blanc 09 – lots of grapefruit, exotic fruit and grassy notes. 
  • Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc 07 – I am a big fan of Merry Edwards wines – especially the Sauvignon Blancs and Pinots – this had the same minerality and citrus notes, but unfortunately had lost some its essence with time.


Then it was truly showtime – a line-up of highly rated Spanish reds, all from the highly-rated 2004, of which I have not had the opportunity to try.  Our line-up was:

  • Bodegas y Vinedos Alion Ribera del Duero 04 – inky black with blackberry, chocolate, spice and some floral notes.  Incredibly rich and yummy.
  • Baron de Magana 04 – priced under $20, this wine had notes of oak, blackberry, current and graphite. Very earthy.
  • Bodegas El Nido Jumilla Clio 04 – it took some time in the glass for me to appreciate this big wine.  I tasted mocha, cardamom, cinnamon and something that was almost port-like.
  • Vall Llach Priorat 04 – lots of blackberry, herbal notes, chocolate, coffee, peanut brittle, vanilla, minerality and spice.  I really liked this wine and it changed in the glass through the course of the evening.
  • Numanthia ‘Termanthia’, Toro, Spain 04 – this was an incredible wine by one of the best Spanish wine makers out there.  It was complex with black and red fruits, eucalyptus and as smooth as silk.  My absolute favorite of the evening.
  • Dominio Pingus Ribera del Duero Flor de Pingus 04 – definitely needed more decanting time, but had notes of cherry, chocolate, oak, smoke, sage, licorice and coffee. 


And if we hadn’t tasted enough great wines, one of our participants had just returned from a trip to Napa, so out came the Guilliams Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 07 and Seavey Cabernet 09.  And that was a fabulous end to our evening and a foggy start to a Sunday morning.

Drink Ribera. Drink Spain: A Dallas Workshop

The Ribera del Duero folks came through Dallas recently for an event called “Drink Ribera.  Drink Spain.”  They hosted a tasting and VIP trade and media food pairing seminar at Pappas Bros Steakhouse hosted by Melissa Monasaw, the wine and education director from Pioneer Wines, and James Tidwell from the Four Seasons Resort as well as Heather Green, sommelier.  

Ribera del Duero is located on Spain’s northern plateau, at the highest altitude for grape growing, located two hours north of Madrid.  Ribera (which means river bank) del Duero extends over parts of four provinces of Castilla y Leon – Burgos, Segovia, Soria and Valladolid.  The region is relatively young and was founded in the 1980s by an organization of wine producers and growers determined to promote quality wines. 

Melissa and James talked about their recent visit to Ribera del Duero and the wines that come from more than 100 villages on the axis of the Duero River Valley and the sense of place of these wines.  While the established region is young, the practice of winemaking is much longer – in fact, it started approximately 2,000 years ago in the Roman era.  Vega Sicilia is credited from setting the pattern for excellence in Ribera del Duero.   

The main grape variety is Tempranillo, which is referred to locally as Tinto Fino or Tinta del Pais.  Ribera del Duero is known for the same intensity as Argentina, but with extreme weather.  The most cutting-edge techniques – dry farming, low yields, use of oak and bush vines – help to make wines that are powerful and elegant.

We tried three wines paired with savory bites prepared by Pappas Bros:

  • Bodegas Vizcarra Ramos Ribera del Duero JC Vizcarra 2010 – bright red fruits, juicy and paired perfectly with mushrooms
  • Vinedos Y Bodega Aster S.L Crianza 2006 – lots of structure and tannins with earthiness, mushroom and red fruit.  This was a great match with the lamb and beef
  • Bodegas y Vinedos Ortega Fournier, S.L. Alpha Spiga 2004 – this was a powerful wine with notes of blackberry, licorice and herb that matched exceptionally well with the beef

The sommeliers talked about how they could “taste the sun” with these wines.  I enjoyed the diversity and price range of these powerful and elegant wines that personify Tempranillo done well.

You know I am always on a journey to learn more about wine. Many of you have asked me how to find some of the wines featured at some of these events, click buy red wine for more information.


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