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Ribera del Duero Masterclass in Houston

Master Sommelier Matt Stamp was back in town to teach a Ribera del Duero Masterclass for the Guild of Sommeliers at Pappas Bros Steakhouse. Essentially, I went in knowing some key facts about this region. I knew that it was located in the Duero Valley in Castille-Leon in Spain. I knew they only produced Red and Rosado wine primarily from Tempranillo. I knew Vega Sicilia was its most important winery having been in operation since the 19th century and I knew that Vega Sicilia had used Bordeaux grapes in their wines in the past. I knew the vineyards were at high elevations on the meseta where they received high levels of sunlight and I knew they enjoyed a wide diurnal range. I knew the Tempranillo from this area was darker colored and more powerful with pronounced aromas and flavors of dark fruit, mainly plum and blackberry, that it was  fairly tannic and could be a bit astringent.

Matt gave a good review of all of these things but he also went far more in depth with his coverage particularly with his breakdown of the provinces or sub-regions within the Ribera del Duero DOP. I hope to share more of that information in some upcoming posts.We discussed climate, soils, wine making styles and the value of 100 year old ungrafted Tempranillo vines. While there are many new young vineyards, there are also many old vines as well. Matt speculated that the heavy interest in the old vine sources will lead to more terroir driven single vineyard wines coming from this area in the near future. He had a "fun fact" that I did not know that apparently was in the wine news last summer-the parentage of Tempranillo had recently been determined to be the local white grape Albillo Major and a red grape known as Benedicto which is found in Aragon. 

Of course, no matter how interesting Matt Stamp may be, the highlight of these events is always the tasting as he always selects some amazing wines. As expected, they were all interesting and came from some of Ribera del Duero’s top estates. With prices ranging from $15 to $450, there is something here for everyone to get a taste of one of Spain’s best wine regions. 

Flight 1

Rosado, 2012 “Montecastrillo”, Bodegas Penalba Lopez  This was fresh and fruity with ripe plum and raspberry aromas and flavors. Plush feel with good acidity. Approximately $15

2011 “Mibal” Joven, Bodegas Hornillos Ballesteros  Matt said that this was a good year for elevated structure and tannins. As there was no oak aging in this wine, it was a clear,very pure expression of Tempranillo. It would be a great red wine for summer. A fresh style with a dark berry character. Approximately $20

2009 “Vina Pedrosa” Crianza, Bodegas Perez Pascuas  This wine was a bit rustic or more traditionally styled. It had a rich, spicy vanilla character. Approximately $39

2008 Reserva Tinto, Pesquera  This wine was produced from a cold, wet and rainy growing season and very few Reservas were produced this year. The wine lacked ripeness and had higher acidity than the others. Cranberry, nutmeg, coconut and dill aromas and flavors but less pronounced. The oak was not fully integrated yet. Approximately $50

Flight 2


2010 Antidoto  Lighter weight, juicy ripe black fruit, good structure, long finish. Approximately $20

2009 “Valdegatiles”, Atauta  Less fruity, more licorice, gritty tannins, full body, higher alcohol. Approximately $125

2008 “24 Meses”, Monteabellon Cranberries, baking spice, oak and hot dogs. Higher acidity, long finish. Approximately $38

2009 “Pago de Santa Cruz”, Vina Sastre  Big and rustic. A rich wine with lower acidity. Licorice, coconut, some minerality with a bit of brett. Approximately $84

Flight 3

2010 Aalto  Concentrated ripe blackberry flavor with dill and sweet oak. Approximately $39

2010 “PSI”, Pingus  More elegant and floral. Juicy ripe blackberry flavor and grippy tannins. Approximately $40

2001 Gran Reserva, Valduero  More Rioja-like. Vanilla, cherry, licorice, cedar aromas with a sour cherry and dill flavor and finish.  Approximately $100

2003 “Unico”, Vega Sicilia  Pronounced aromas of blue berries and plums with licorice and leather, juicy flavor with slightly astringent tannins and a long finish. Approximately $450


 related posts:
Napa Valley Masterclass
Wines of Germany Masterclass
Tempranillo Day

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