We Love These Ribera Del Duero Wines! A report on a SNOOTH Virtual Wine Tasting
Last month we participated in another of Snooth.com’s wonderful virtual wine tasting events. This one, which featured wines from Spain’s Ribera Del Duero region, was hosted by Snooth.com’s Editor-in-Chief, Gregory Dal Piaz, and featured Sommelier Richard Kugler. What transpired was one of the best virtual wine tastings we have yet participated in.
As we have said before in several virtual wine tasting articles ( Read: We Love those Lodi Wines! A report on a SNOOTH Virtual Wine Tasting ; Snooth’s Virtual Wine Tasting Takes You to Argentina ; One of the Most Civilized Things in the World: Hemmingway Loved It & The Advice Sisters Do, Too! ; a Virtual Wine Tasting is a Can’t Miss Experience for Wine Lovers ) , Snooth.com’s virtual wine tastings are a fantastic way to taste and understand wines that one would generally not know about. They also offer an opportunity to ask questions about the wines at the same time they are being sampled. When the guests are as knowledgeable as Mr. Kugler, these tastings can be as good as – or even better than – expensive wine tasting events held by major wholesalers or retailers.
Ribera Del Duero is one of the geographically highest red wine producing areas in the world. The wines are comprised mainly of the Tempranillo grape varietal, with some blending of Cabernet, Merlot and Grenache. The region is small, about the size of Long Island in New York State, but contains about 250 wineries. The bulk of production in the region is used in Rosado, a dry rose made from the Tempranillo grape that is prominent in Spain. Very little of this product gets into the world market, simply because demand in Spain is so high, but when it can be found, it should be purchased and drunk now. Unfortunately, even though the Snooth.com tasting did include 2012 Bodegas Monteabellon Avaniel, it was not in our tasting sample. We are still on the lookout for this wine which retails in New York for about $12.00. In addition to the Rosado, the Snooth.com tasting included the 2007 Valdubon Reserva, which we did not taste, though the participants suggested that the wine well above the general quality of the 2007 vintage which was considered to be a generally bad one for the region, with up-front fruit flavors of cherry and plum with a bit of coffee or chocolate.
Our focus, however, was on the two wines that were provided to us by Snooth.com, and that we did taste. These were the 2010 Bodegas Montebaco Semele, and the 2009 Montecastro Alconte.
Starting with the Semele, we explored a very good vintage for Ribera del Duero. In fact, Mr. Kugler suggested that wines from 2010 could easily age 10 years, while most vintages should never be held that long. This wine, which is predominantly Tempranillo with a bit of Merlot was aged in 70 percent French and 30 percent American oak. The result was a product with a deep ruby color – almost purple, with a nose dominated by raspberry and Concord grape. There were good tannins, but they were already softening. The palette brought out licorice and a bit of pepper with an abundance of plum, black cherry and strawberry fruits. Even though the tannins were soft, the wine was very well structured and would stand up to a lot of different foods. This was a good buy, hold and drink wine, and at about $15 in New York a very good deal.
The other wine that we tasted was from 2009, which Mr. Kugler called “the perfect vintage.” He suggested that 2009’s including this wine (Montecastro Alconte) could be cellared for decades. Considering that the weather in the region consists of 9 months of winter and 3 months of hell, it is nice to see two good vintages coming back to back.
The Alconte was an excellent wine. Again, the Tempranillo provides a deep purple color, and a complex nose. Florals, cherry, blueberry and some ginger come out in this wine, which also includes some Cabernet, Merlot and a bunch of Grenache. The wine was very balanced across the palate, with a very sweet sugar plum taste on the front, followed by cherries and other red fruits. The finish was a bit abrupt for our personal taste, but the wine as a whole was well put together. The gentile tannins bellied the ability for this wine to age, as Mr. Kugler suggested, like a good Burgandy, and while the $25.00 price tag was higher than other selections from the region, it was not burdensome.
As was mentioned before, the great thing about a Snooth.com virtual wine tasting is the ability to interact with the experts, and with other tasters. Throughout this particular tasting, Mr. Kugler provided some excellent advice and information. For example, he suggested that even white and rose wines should be tasted warm. This allows the nose to come out more and for tasters to catch more of the flavors. He also suggested that while Tempernillo’s such as those from Ribera del Duero are good choices for those who have grown up on California wines, they are often better choices for those who like to cellar and age their bottles. Tempernillo, he said, can suck up oak and remain tame, unlike California and even French Cabernets which often become more assertive. These are small things, but you really need a professional Sommelier to teach them to you.
Overall, we saw how winemakers in the Ribera del Duero can producer different expressions depending on the quality of the vintage that all show the character and distinction that the region is capable of. This comes from both the character of the local Tempranillo varietal, but also from a skillful use of oak and blending of minor wines.
Virtual wine tastings, like those offered by Snooth.com provide an excellent opportunity to try different regions and wine types, and they make a great occasion to have a few friends over to share dinner, wine, conversation and their thoughts. If you decide you join in on the next Snooth.com virtual wine tasting, we are logged in as “advicesisterA” and would love to chat with you! If you are signed in to Snooth.com you can view the actual Virtual Tasting video we saw in streaming video at this Ribera Del Duero event and look at all the comments in the chat room including ours.
This report was written by wine enthusiast John Dunham for the Advice Sisters