An overview of this important Spanish wine region, with notes on 40 top wines tasted
Ribera del Duero is one of Spain’s most celebrated wine regions, but it’s a relatively new entrant into the fine wine firmament. Grapes have been grown here for at least 2000 years, but fame has only come recently: the DO was created in 1982, and it is only since the late 1980s that it has had much international visibility, with the exception of Ribera’s most famous property, Vega Sicilia, which has been here a lot longer and became famous long before the DO was created.
It’s found in the middle of Spain towards the top, following the Duero river, in the northern part of the Castillion plateau. It’s 115 km long and 35 km wide.
The climate is a harsh one, but vines respond well to it. It has a Mediterranean climate with continentality, caused by the average altitude of 850 m. This means hot summers and cold winters, missing the spring and autumn.
Rainfall is low rainfall at 435 mm rain a year, which normally wouldn’t be enough to dry-grow grapes. The soils here have a critical role to play in preserving the water so it is accessible to the vines in the growing season, where it rarely rains.
Because of altitude, frost is a risk. Typically, the problems with frost are in the spring, because budbreak is usually April 24th and the risk period on average extends to May 2nd. In 2017 there was a spring frost on 2/3 May, and the region’s production was reduced from 130 million kg to 55 million kg. The growing season here has 192 frost free days. Normally, people say 200 days are the minimum.
There are high diurnal temperature swings after veraison. It will typically be 25-26 C in the daytime, and at night the temperature will drop to 5-6 C. This means that during the day the plants are photosynthesizing, and they have ideal conditions for this: the temperatures aren’t so high that the stomata close. The key point comes in the night, when respiration takes place. They aren’t using up the sugars, acids and anthocyanins, because the cool temperatures slow down respiration, resulting in good acidity, colour and refined tannins. This leads to a slow ripening process.
For most regions, veraison to harvest is normally 40 days. In Ribera del Duero it is 50/60 days. This affects the tannins, which tend to form longer chains and come across as a bit softer.
The region has 32 different soil types, all mixed in together. This is because it is a high limestone plateau that has been eroded by a meandering river that carved the terrain into a valley. In the west part of the region, the erosion is deeper and the slopes are steeper. The soils reflect this process. The erosion caused by the river has allowed different geological layers to emerge, so some vineyards are on old alluvial plains, others are on foothills and are quite rocky, and then there are terraces (younger soils near the river) and finally the original limestone bedrock in the higher sites.
This is predominantly a red wine region, and one grape – a clone of Tempranillo known as Tinto Fino – dominates. There are 23 000 hectares of vines, and 95% of this is Tinto Fino. The second most widely planted variety is the white variety Albillo (456 hectares). As of November 2019 it is now possible to use this to make white Ribera del Duero. Then the other main varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon (279 hectares), Merlot (193 ha), Garnacha (64 ha) and Malbec (25 ha). Average yields are low at 4 tons/hectare. There are 8000 growers in the region, and the average plot size is 0.45 ha. Just 46 have more than 50 ha. Half the vines are bush vines, half are trellised. There are 475 hectares of vines older than 100 years, 4600 older than 75 and 6100 older than 50 (28% of the region’s vineyard area).
Ribera del Duero has come in for some criticism about the style of wines they are making. Some accuse them of making winemakers’ wines, high in alcohol, with dense sweet fruit, and lavish use of new oak. This lack of identity has been a problem. But increasingly, producers are looking to express the place more: after all, this is a special region for growing wine grapes, and the quality potential of the terroirs is very high. It might be a while before we see cellars that aren’t just full of small new oak barrels, but the move away from excessive oak use has started at some addresses. And it has to be said that élevage in small oak does seem to be a good option for Tempranillo from these extreme terroirs, when handled skilfully.
I spent a few weeks tasting through these wines, spending quite a bit of time with each, trying to get a handle on the current state of play in the region. This followed a visit in early November 2019. Not included here are two of the most famous wineries in the region: Vega Sicilia and Pingus.
These notes are in descending order by score
This is the Ribera del Duero arm of La Rioja Alta. This is 100% Tempranillo from a single vineyard planted in 1961. Malolactic in barrel, then a selection of the best barrels is transferred to new French oak for 16 months.
Áster Finca El Otero 2016 Ribera del Duero, Spain
15% alcohol. This is 100% Tempranillo from 60 year old vines. It has a brooding, intense, inviting nose of sweet black cherry and blackberry fruit, with some creamy hints. The palate is complex, textured and refined with lovely warm cedar and herb and spice notes complementing the powerful but smooth black cherry and blackcurrant fruit. This has a depth to it, with molten tannins and fine spices. It has a bit of warmth, but also lovely freshness. Superb. 95/100
Garmón is the third winery from Mariano Garcia, who was winemaker for Vega Sicilia for 30 years until 1998. His first solo project was Mauro, and this new Ribera del Duero project, Garmón, is done in partnership with his sons, and debut vintage was 2014.
Garmón 2017 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. A little restrained on the nose with brooding black cherry and blackberry fruit, and some savoury gravel and spice notes. The palate is fresh and concentrated with some supporting oak right in the background, allowing the sleek but refined black fruits to show their best. This has wonderful concentration and complexity, and presumably has a bright future ahead of it. So harmonious, with the considerable tannins currently masked by the intensity of the fruit. 95/100
Montebaco is located between two of the most famous towns in the region: Valbuena de Duero and Pesquera de Duero. Until the mid-1980s this was a farm focusing on livestock and agriculture. In 1987, owner Manuel Esteban planted 20 hectares of Tinto Fino. This vineyard has now grown to 45 hectares. The first wines from the property were made in 1994 – before this the grapes were sold off. Things have progressed, and now Montebaco buys a small quantity of grapes too.
Since 1997 the winemaker has been Cesar Muñoz. They haven’t used herbicide for the last five years, and some of the plots are organically farmed. 80% domestic sales.
Montebaco Parcela Cara Norte 2018 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. This is from a north-facing slope with strong limestone soil. First made as a single parcel in 2016, and its organically certified. This has a sweetly aromatic nose with some blackberry and black cherry fruit as well as fine herbs, cedar spice, wood smoke and hints of cured meat. The palate has freshness, good acidity and a lovely supple fruity character, with black fruits to the fore and well integrated spicy oak. It’s a really striking, well balanced wine with a lovely freshness and mouthfeel, offering plenty of potential for development. Very serious. 95/100
Pago de Los Capellanes
Website: Pago de Los Capellanes
One of the top wineries in the region, Pago de Los Capellanes is owned by Paco Rodero and his wife Conchita Villa. In the mid-1980s they inherited their family’s vineyards in Pedrosa del Duero, and after a period of selling grapes to others they decided to make their own wine. First vintage was in 1996, and since then they have expanded their vineyard holdings to a sizeable 150 hectares. Of these, about 30 hectares are being replanted. They also have a second winery, O Luar do Sil in Valdeorras, where they focus on Godello.
Pago de Los Capellanes Parcela El Nogal 2016 Ribera Del Duero, Spain
15.5% alcohol. This is a ripe but fresh expression of Ribera del Duero. The alcohol level is high, but there’s a lovely taut black fruit quality here, with black cherries and blackberries, supported by taut spicy structure with some chalky notes, as well as some grainy structure. Under all of this is some focused, spicy new oak with cedar and vanilla notes, but it mostly complements the structure of the wine rather than adding make up. Refined, focused and long, this is a really impressive wine. 95/100
Dominio del Águila
Dominio del Águila is a winery based in La Aguilera, Riberal del Duero. It’s run by Jorge Monzón and Isabel Rodero, who began making wine in 2010. They have 30 hectares of very old vines, and another 5 hectares of quite old vines, and they sell these grapes as well as making their own wines, which are increasingly garnering critical acclaim. Jorge has studied in Bordeaux and Burgundy, and has worked with some top wineries in France and Spain. He’s been full time with this family project of his since 2013.
Dominio del Águila Reserva 2016 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14% alcohol. This is from very old vineyards, with some vines pre-phylloxera, at 900 m altitude with sandy limestone soils. As an old vineyard it’s mostly Tempranillo, but there’s also some other varieties in it: Blanca del País, Garnacha and Bobal. Whole bunch, foot trodden, then after fermentation it goes to French oak for three years. The result is quite remarkable. It’s Ribera del Duero, but with real beauty and purity, and moderate extraction but also great concentration. There’s some oak evident, but it sits in the background. Sweet black cherry and blackcurrant fruit on the nose with some creamy, spicy undercurrents: it’s ripe, luxurious, but still fresh. The palate has some chalky, grainy, mineral structure that has some grippy bite, but there’s also pure, sleek black fruits. This is really nicely balanced. Amazing finesse, allied to concentration. It’s classic Ribera, for sure, but with real balance. 95/100
Bodegas La Horra
Bodegas La Horra is the Ribera del Duero project of Rioja star Roda, and two wines are made, Corimbo and Corimbo I. It’s based in La Horra, in Burgos, and they have old bush vine vineyards in La Horra, Roa, Anguix, La Aguilera and Quintana del Pidio. Farming is organic.
Bodegas La Horra Corimbo 2015 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. 80% French oak, 20% American, with just 10% new barrels. This is a fresh, well balanced wine with the emphasis on fruit and structure, not oak. It has ripe blackberry and black cherry fruit with a chalky, mineral undercurrent and some grippy tannins, as well as some olive savouriness. Lovely balance between the ripeness and the structure: this has some lushness, and the silky texture of the fruit has an underlay of dry, quite firm tannins. Nice purity here: give this cellar time. 94/100 (UK retail £25)
Bodegas Felix Callejo
From four vineyards at altitudes between 855 and 870 m. Clay-rich soils over limestone. Tempranillo from Los Arenales, La Sequera and Valdelroble, and Albillo Mayor from El Lebrero. Organic farming, wild ferment, and maturation in new 500 litre French oak. The result is something quite special: I think using 500 litre barrels has helped, together with the vineyard choices.
Callejo Parajes de Callejo Sotillo de la Ribera 2018 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. 95% Tempranillo, 5% Albillo Mayor. This has a smoothly aromatic nose with a slightly creamy edge to the floral black cherry and berry fruits. Very fine. The palate is smooth, balanced and textural with a core of berry fruits, some cherry notes, smooth silky texture and notes of cream and chocolate (the new oak is well integrated, but present), finishing with nice grip. Good concentration, nice fruit focus, and some elegance. Very fine and potentially ageable, if a little oak influenced at present. 94/100
This is the high-end project from Yllera, a large winery who have hired Jean-Claud Berrouet to help fashion a top wine.
Vivaltus 2017 Riberal del Duero
The second vintage of this as-yet-unreleased wine. This is ripe, sleek, concentrated and still quite supple, with lovely pure blackberry and black cherry fruit. It’s very smooth with nice richness, and a really silky texture. All the components are melted in with each other, and it’s very easy to drink. Perhaps a little too easy, for a €100+ wine? Although a young wine like this might yet put on some structure in bottle. So luxurious. 94/100
Pesquera is a 200 hectare estate that was founded by Alejandro Fernández in 1972. Alejandro and his wife Esperanza Rivera bought the property after making money selling a patent, and in 1975 released Tinto Pesquera for the first time. The big break for this new winery came when in 1985 they were written up by American critic Robert Parker, who described them as the Petrus of Spain.
Tinto Pesquera Reserva 2016 Ribera Del Duero, Spain
14% alcohol. This is concentrated and dense with sweet blackberry and black cherry fruit with a lovely sleek core, but also substantial structure cloaked in the fruit. There’s some spicy vanilla oak here, but it plays a supporting role and the fruit weaves in and out of it. Lovely focus and concentration, and there’s a lot of potential for further development. 94/100 (UK retail c £30, Majestic, Highbury Vintners)
Tinto Pesquera Crianza 2018 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. This spends 14 months in American oak. Nicely aromatic with black cherry, berries and some spicy woody notes. There’s a sweetness to the fruit, nicely framed by some cedar and coconut from the oak, which integrates pretty well. Has quite a seductive quality to it, but the fruit remains the main focus, with some chocolatey overtones to the vivid raspberry and blackberry fruit. Very stylish, with good ageing potential. 93/100 (UK retail £27 Roberson)
Carmelo Rodero comes from a long line of winegrowers in the region, and is based in Pedroso de Duero. He began making his own wines in the early 1990s. It’s a big operation with 140 hectares of vines, and now his daughters Beatriz and María are involved. Altitude ranges from 750-900 m.
Carmelo Rodero Crianza 2018 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, from vines over 15 years old, aged in French oak, racked every three months. Heavy bottle. This is ripe, smooth, lush and sweetly fruited with blackcurrant and black cherry, as well as some vanilla and cedar spice from the oak which integrates seamlessly with the ripe fruit. Very polished and smooth with a touch of liqourice and fennel adding a slight savoury edge to the fruit. It’s a modern, ripe, but very stylish expression of Ribera del Duero. So fine and textured. 93/100
This domain was founded in 2001 in La Horra by the García-Figuero family, who had previously been selling their grapes (from 80 hectares of vines) to other wineries. This is made from 60 year old + Tempranillo vines from three plots in La Horra, typically yielding just a kilogram of grapes each. Malolactic fermentation and ageing new 500 litre French oak barrels for 18 months. It’s a winemaker’s wine in some ways, but it’s really good.
García Figuero Milagros de Figuero 2016 Ribera del Duero, Spain
15% alcohol. This is brooding and sweetly aromatic with a touch of vanilla, some roast coffee, warm spices and sleek black cherry and berry fruits. It’s harmonious and sophisticated, showing some oak, but keeping balance. The palate shows good concentration of black fruits with some orange peel freshness and notes of cedar, dried herbs, liqourice and tar adding a savoury element. This is structured and quite serious, with a lovely layered palate. It has a bright future. 93/100 (UK retail c £40)
Velvety Wines is the project of Monica Peñas, who uses grapes from her husband’s family vineyards, in the west of the region. Slopes at 800-900 m, with 25 hectares spread over many parcels. This wine is from two villages in Valladolid, Pesquera de Duero and Bocos.
Velvety Wines Velvet 2019 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14% alcohol. This spends 6 months in oak (85% French, 15% American). It has a beautifully aromatic nose of sweet blackberries with some fine green hints adding freshness. The palate is fresh and gravelly, with fruit to the fore: it has a hint of Bordeaux about it in its structure, and the oak is very much in the background. Brooding and nicely savoury with sleek dark fruits and a bit of grip. Very drinkable now, but potential for development. I like the fresh gravelly green notes. 93/100 (UK retail £19)
Casado Alvides is a winery founded in 2001 – they have 25 hectares of vines in Villalba de Duero on south and south-east facing slopes, with silt and pebble soils. Average vine age is around 50 years.
Alvides Tercera Generación 2018 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. This wine is 100% Tinta del País from vineyards averaging 75 years at 840 m, with silty sandy soils over a limestone bedrock. It spends 16 months in barrel (all new, 75% French, 25% American. This is powerful and yet quite supple with sweet cherry and berry fruit with blackberry and blackcurrant richness. There’s a marriage between the new oak and the vivid fruit, and although it’s certainly ripe, there’s a nice harmony here. This has some appealing spicy texture with a graininess and lovely lush fruit, combined with good structure. Polished and reassuring. 93/100
Alonso del Yerro
Viñedos Alonso del Yerro is an estate-based project founded by entrepreneur Javier Alonso and his wife María del Yerro, a translator. They make just two wines.
Bordeaux consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt consults here and they also have viticulture help from Claude and Lydia Bourguignon. Soils have limestone, which the Bourguignons love. They source from four vineyards in Burgos and have 26 hectares of vines.
Alonso del Yerro 2016 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14% alcohol. This is impressive. It’s a deeply coloured, brooding wine with a gravelly undercurrent to the structured yet lushly fruited blackberry and black cherry fruit. There’s some sweetness to the fruit, but also a nice savouriness, with faint hints of tar and pepper, as well as a bit of chalk. Great concentration, but also freshness, finishing a little dry. Lovely balance, though. 93/100
Protos is a cooperative winery founded in 1927, which is very early days in this region. They have 1400 ha of vineyards in both Ribera del Duero and Rueda, and the wines are made at a Richard Rogers designed cellar opened in 2009.
Protos Reserva 5 Ano 2015 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. This is sophisticated and alluring with a smooth nose combining sweet black fruits, some berry fruits and also some refined toasty, woody oak notes as well as a hint of vanilla. The palate is smooth and concentrated with well-integrated oak adding an extra dimension to the sweet lush fruit. This is a substantial, well balanced wine with lots of interest. 93/100
Condado de Haza
In 1995, Alejandro Fernandez of Pesquera established a second winery, Condado de Haza. This is based on 160 hectares of vineyards in Burgos, where the soils are mainly sandy clay. This is a flatter vineyard that’s a bit more consistent in soil types than Pesquera.
Condado de Haza Crianza 2017 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. This is sweetly fruitied, with rich strawberry and cherry fruit, some molasses, sweet plums and a bit of warm, spicy vanilla oak (this spends 18 months in Amercian oak). It’s warm, soft and sweetly fruited with a luxurious, generous taste and a broad, soft mid-palate. Lots of appeal here: a lovely marriage of soft, sweet fruit with warm American oak. 93/100 (UK retail c £16)
Legaris is a modern winery (1999) owned by the Codorníu Group. They have over 100 hectares of vines.
Páramos de Legaris 2016 Ribera del Duero, Spain
15% alcohol. From what they describe as three different ‘moors’ (paramos) at altitudes of 900 m, in Moradillo de Roa, Peñafiel and Pequera de Duero. 100% Tempranillo. Brooding nose with some notes of chocolate, vanilla and cream from the oak, as well as lush black fruits. The palate is well balanced: it shows plenty of vanilla oak, with a touch of cedar spice, but also fresh, expansive blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. This is certainly oaky, but it has plenty of vivid fruit and should age well into a mellow maturity. 92/100 (UK retail £25)
This is Torres’ first foray into Ribera del Duero. From Pago del Cielo at 900 m altitude, which is on the Páramo plateau near Fompedraza in the mid-east of the region. First vintage was 2003.
Torres Celeste Crianza Pago del Cielo 2018 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. This is compact and has some nice structure, as well as appropriate spicy, cedary oak. It’s quite dense with notes of tar and wood, with some firm tannins on the finish. The focus is on the blackberry and blackcurrant fruit which is well supported by the oak, with some appealing creamy undercurrents. Fresh with good focus, and quite stylish, this has good ageing potential. 92/100 (UK retail: £13, available in Waitrose)
The project of brothers José and Javier Moro, this is a winery (completed in 2006) that’s very modernistic, with the aim of making fruit-focused wines. They own 50 hectares of vines ranging in altitude from 750-900 m.
Cepa 21 Tempranillo 2016 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14% alcohol. This is a modern winery, making wines with an emphasis on fruit. Deeply coloured, this is a fresh, aromatic expression of Tempranillo with floral black cherry and blackberry fruit with some fine herbs and a bit of peppery spice. The oak is in the background. The palate is supple, savoury and deep with some tar and pepper, a touch of green, and firm black fruits with some stony red fruit characters, too. Aiming at restraint over power, this has a bright future ahead of it. 92/100
López Cristóbal is a family-owned winery in Roa, near Burgos in the east of the region. This wine spends 3 months in oak, 80% French and 20% American, and is a blend of Tempranillo and Merlot (5%), grown on limestone soils at 700 m.
López Cristóbal Roble Finca La Linde 2019 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. Vivid in colour, this is a deliciously juicy fruit-drive expression of Ribera del Duero offering fresh, floral black cherry and blackberry fruit with a nice acid line and appropriate structure. The oak is playing a supporting role, and isn’t really noticeable, with all the emphasis being on the ripe but fresh fruit. A really impressive wine. 92/100 (UK retail £15)
Based in Peñafiel, Resalte began making wine in 2000. They have 80 hectares of vines under their control, and winemaking is technologically advanced. This is an impressive modern expression of Tempranillo.
Bodegas Resalte de Peñafiel Origen de Resalte 2017 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. From several different plots from a variety of altitudes and soil types. Aromatic spicy, tar-tinged, smoky black fruits on the nose. The palate is lush and ripe with a sweet edge to the cherry and blackberry fruit, together with some notes of tar, cedar and dried herbs. Juicy and detailed with lovely freshness as well as some meaty depth to the fruit, with a hint of bitterness on the finish. 92/100
Nexus is a modern winery with a very different feel, based in Pesquera de Duero, with 40 hectares of vines. This fresh, vivid young wine is brilliant value for money.
Nexus One 2018 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. From clay/limestone soils. 8 months in oak. Intense colour. Hugely aromatic nose of ripe blackberry fruit with some hints of cream and cedar spice. The palate is concentrated and lush with sweet black fruits as well as some notes of chalk and spice. Inky and exotic, showing concentrated fruit and finishing with some tannic grip. Really impressive. 92/100 (£13 UK retail)
Ferratus is the project of María Luisa Cuevas, who is the winegrower and owner. This is the modern side of the region.
Bodegas Cuevas Jiménez Ferratus A0 Tempranillo 2018 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. This is vibrant and fresh with lovely juicy red fruits: raspberry and plum. There’s some nice brightness, a touch of wood spice (it spends 12 months in French oak) and just a bit of grippy structure. 91/100
Part of the Freixenet group, Valdubón was founded in 1997.
Valdubón Roble 2018 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14% alcohol. Four months in new oak (75% American, 25% French). This is juicy and bright with supple red cherry and plum fruit. There’s a bit of spice, vanilla and coffee from the oak, but it hides in the background. This is harmonious, with a sweet core of fruit, but no signs of overripeness, with the oak adding polish and warmth. Very stylish and great value for money. 91/100 (UK retail £12.95 Slurp)
Bodegas Navarro Balbás
Bodegas Navarro Balbás Valle de Nabal 2017 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14% alcohol. Aged in new oak: 60% American and 40% French. Brooding black fruits on the nose with some hints of tar and spice. On the palate, this is sleek and polished, but has some spicy, tarry edges. Smooth, concentrated and quite lush with a creamy edge to the black fruits. There’s a lot to like about this plush, concentrated expression of Tempranillo. 91/100
A sizeable operation with 225 hectares of vines in Peñafiel, founded by a group of growers in 2001. This is an affordable wine (UK retail £12).
Pinna Fidelis Roble 2019 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. Tempranillo. Aged in French and American oak for 4 months. This has an appealing floral nose of sweet blackberry and cherry fruit with a touch of creaminess, and some floral overtones, as well as a liquorice twist. The palate is sweetly fruited and engaging with a lushness to the structure. Has a bit of tarry, spicy grip with some chocolate and coffee hints. Really appealing and well balanced, this is a crowd-pleaser with more than a hint of seriousness. 91/100
Dominio Romano is owned by the Cusiné family, who have two other wineries: Paés Baltà in Penedès and Gratavinum in Priorat. This project began in 2005, and relies mostly in purchased grapes – their vineyard holdings are quite small.
Dominio Romano Camino Romano 2018 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14% alcohol. Organic. This is fresh and supple with bright berry fruits and some black cherry. It’s juicy and very drinkable with fruit to the fore, as well as subtle savoury tar and spice notes. Has a bit of grip on the finish. 90/100 (UK retail £20)
Vega Real is a sister property to Barbadillo, founded in 1997. 80 hectares of vines with quite a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Vega Real Roble 2018 Ribera del Duero, Spain
13.5% alcohol. Three months maturation in barrel. This is fresh, supple and juicy with a bit of grippy structure under the fresh cherry and raspberry fruit with some liqueur-like richness and also a faint hint of warm spicy oak. Satisfying and has a real drinkability. Great value. 90/100 (UK retail £11.99 Averys/Laithwaites)
Sastre began from 23 hectares of vineyards the family owned, back in 1992. They now have 45 hectares. This is from 60 year old vines between 800 and 840 m, and maturation is in French and American oak, 70% new.
Viña Sastre Crianza 2017 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. 61 year old Tempranillo. Ripe, concentrated and textural with sweet blackberry fruit with lush black fruits, a hint of ash, some fine gravel notes and a slight saltiness, as well as a hint of green. There’s detail and finesse here, along with the generous lush fruit. This is a classic Ribero del Duero with sweet fruit, some savouriness, and good structure. 90/100
Cruz de Alba
Cruz de Alba’s grapes come from FINCA LOS HOYALES, located in the heart of the golden mile of the Ribera del Duero.
Cruz de Alba 2018 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. 90 000 bottles made, biodynamic farming. This has fresh, supple, quite structured black cherry and blackberry fruit with some tannic grip, as well as some fine green notes in the background. It’s a fresh, focued expression of Ribera del Duero with the oak in the background. 90/100
Bodegas El Pingón has three brands: Carramimbre, Altamimbre and Torrepignón. It’s located in Peñafiel, in the province of Valladolid. A group of families from the region founded it in 1997, and the estate is 50 hectares owned vineyards, and a production level (with brought in grapes) of a sizeable 900 tons
Carramimbre Crianza 2017 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. Fresh, supple and bright on the nose with a green edge to the red and black cherries. The palate shows ripe cherry and berry fruit with some fresh herb and tar notes, a bit of vinyl, and juicy cherry and berry fruits. Shows nice drinkability, with savoury notes as well as sweet, supple fruit. 90/100
3 Ases Crianza 2016 Ribera Del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. Sweetly aromatic, ripe and quite chocolatey with some creamy texture, sweet blackberry and berry fruits, and well integrated oak (French). Nice structure and balance here: this has an appealing smoothness to the fruit. At age four and a bit, it’s in a nice place. 90/100
Vina Mayor is part of the Bodegas Palacios group. They first made wine in 1986, in the early days of the DO, and this Secreto comes from 60 year old vines (average age) at 900 m, and after a 4 day cold preferment maceration, it spends 20 days fermenting and macerating before being aged for a year in French oak.
Vina Mayor El Secreto 2018 Ribero del Duero, Spain
14% alcohol. This is fresh and juicy with nice brightness to the cherry and berry fruits, with a touch of raspberry and a hint of smoky oak. It’s lively and brambly, with nice juiciness and drinkability. The oak is very much in the background, and the overall impression is one of freshness and vitality. 90/100 (UK retail c £28, available in Selfridges)
Bodegas Valduero Terra Alta En 2 Maderas 2017 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14% alcohol. Tempranillo from low yielding vineyards (4 tons/ha) at 800 m. Aged in two different oaks. There’s some tar, spice and cedar here as well as a good concentration of blackberry and black cherry fruit. Has freshness, good structure and some warmth, with a spicy flourish on the finish. Some savoury notes, too. Needs a bit of time. 90/100
12 Linajes Crianza 2017 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. 80 year old vines from 845-960 m altitude. 100% Tempranillo. Lovely aromatics: slightly floral with sleek black fruits. The palate is sweetly fruited and smooth with lush blackberry and cherry fruit, showing some spicy oak (aged in French and American oak) and some nice savoury structure as a foil to the lush fruit. Nice focus to this polished, modern wine. 90/100
35 hectare vineyard planted in 1998, initially with a view to selling grapes. They built a gravity flow winery in 2000 and began making wines. Now the vineyard is 87 hectares, on alluvial soils at 800 m altitude.
Martín Berdugo Joven Tempranillo 2020 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. 25% whole bunch in stainless steel, the rest destemmed with a cold maceration before fermentation. Fresh, floral and sappy with some nice green notes as well as direct cherry, plum and berry fruit. Juicy and nicely balanced with lovely purity and a bit of savoury detail, partly from the whole bunch component. 89/100
Abadía de Acón
Abadía de Acón is a family run winery located in Castillo de la Vega, Burgos. This wine comes from 25 year old vines at 800 m, and is aged for five months in new oak barrels. Grapes are hand harvested into small crates, sorted, destemmed and vinified. Mix of American, French and central European oak.
Abadía de Acón Acón Roble Tempranillo 2018 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. Nicely packaged. This is sweetly fruited with fresh, slightly sappy cherry and berry fruits supported by spicy oak, with some savory cedar and vanilla notes, as well as hints of chocolate and coffee. Nicely structured with some green notes adding freshness. Good value for money. 89/100 (UK retail £12.40 Tanners)
Casado Alvides is a winery founded in 2001 – they have 25 hectares of vines in Villalba de Duero on south and south-east facing slopes, with silt and pebble soils. Average vine age is around 50 years.
Alvides Tempranillo Roble 2019 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. This is ripe, generous and sweetly fruited with some lush blackberry and cherry fruit supported by sweet oak and a fine spiciness. Sweet, fresh, supple fruit to the fore. It’s generous and easy to like, with nice purity. There’s a chalky, grainy quality to the texture of the palate. Impressive in a fruit-driven style. 89/100
Viñas del Jaro
Viñas del Jaro is based in Pesquera de Duero, and their property is Finca el Quiñon, which has 65 hectares of vines. Chalky/stony soils which used to be the banks of the Duero.
Viñas del Jaro Sembro Vendimia Seleccionada Tempranillo 2019 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14.5% alcohol. This spends 4 months in French oak. Deeply coloured, this shows fresh black cherry and blackberry fruit with a plummy edge, and some savoury, spicy, clove-like oak notes that jut out a bit. Finishes with sweet vanilla notes and slightly jammy fruit, as well as some grip. 87/100 (UK retail £13)
Finca Villacreces Pruno 2019 Ribera del Duero, Spain
14% alcohol. 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in three year old French oak barrels. This is a lively wine with a slight green note on the nose, some ashy notes, and vibrant juicy blackberry and cherry notes. It’s fresh and assertive with a distinct leafy green edge to the berry fruits, and some grippy, tight tannins. Youthful, this needs a little while to settle down. 87/100