“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing” (Ernest Hemmingway)
Spain is known for all sorts of romantic and wonderful things. Certainly, Hemingway loved the country of bullfights, flamenco, fabulous food, and very delicious wine! I am sure he drank plenty of it. So it was with great pleasure that The Advice Sisters had the opportunity to attend a Snooth virtual wine tasting sampling wines from Ribera del Duero, which is a region in the northern part of Spain, about half way between Madrid and the Atlantic Ocean.
Wine tastings are a great way to entertain while learning about new wines and regions. And Snooth’s regular virtual wine tastings are a fantastic way to do this without having to either hire a sommelier to spend hours preparing. Virtual wine tastings have all the elements of the in-person variety, but since they are online, participants and their guests can take advantage of all or the research that Snooth puts into wine and foods. In addition, participants get the chance to make friends and chat with people from all over the world. Snooth’s virtual wine tastings also seem to gather a dedicated audience of regulars, who are enthusiastic about the wine, and the chance to discuss it, intelligently with one another. We love listening to people’s food pairings. At this last virtual wine tasting, one participant advised the group that he was in the middle of a tornado warning, but he was “saving the wine” by bringing it to a safe place! You never know what’s going to happen at a virtual wine tasting!
We were not particularly familiar with this region of Spain, but during the tasting, Snooth’s resident expert, Editor-in-Chief Gregory Dal Piaz, and Ribera del Duero Sommelier Roger Kugler quickly taught us that the region is a mountainous area located nearly 3,000 feet above sea-level with a harsh climate and a very short growing season. The area sports about 300 wineries, and the major varietal is the Tempranillo grape. In fact, the majority of production is dedicated to Tinto Fino (the local name for Tempranillo), and to be granted the Ribera del Duero DO – or classification of origin, wines must contain at least 75 percent Tempranillo.
The virtual tasting featured four wines, which ranged in price from about $15 to $50, and all were excellent examples of the terroir of the region.
The first wine that we sampled was a Rose, called a Rosado, from the Bodega Peñalba López (Rosado: Bodegas Peñalba López, S.L., Montecastrillo Rosado 2012). This wine, which sells in New York for about $14 was a great summer picnic wine, and not something we would expect to see from a region that relies on more heavy varietals. This Rose was quite dry, with a strawberry fruit forward approach, and a citrusy finish. While not at all complex, the wine was quite approachable, and was a great start to the tasting. We could see this paired with seafood, or even spicy Thai or Mexican dishes.
The second wine, was one we loved, and at a price point of only $22 we thought it had a construction worthy of a much higher end offering. Called Ferratus, from the Cuevas Jiménez bodega (Roble: Bodegas Cuevas Jiménez, S.L. Ferratus A0 2011), this wine was made with Tempranillo grapes from old vines (we understood that to be over 40 years old). It was very dark reddish purple in color, and was very smooth on the palate. One of our tasters immediately began shouting bacon… bacon, and there was a definite spicy, smoked meat, somewhat spicy character in the glass. Interestingly, this bacon undertone did not go away with decanting or time and seemed to be – at least for one taster – the key not to Ferratus.
The third wine in the virtual tasting came from the Matamomera bodega and was priced at $30. (Crianza: Bodegas Matarromera, S.L., Matarromera 2008). This wine was considered by many on the Snooth virtual tasting, to be a very classically styled Ribera Del Duero. It was also organic, for those who are looking for that feature in their wines. We felt that this wine could use more time in the cellar, and Sommelier Roger Kugler agreed, suggesting that 2008 was a very hot summer in Spain, and the jammy fruit that we tasted in this wine could stand 7 or 8 years in the bottle to mature better.
The final wine for the roughly hour long Snooth virtual wine tasting, was priced at about $50. (Reserva: Bodegas Emilio Moro, S.L., Malleolus Reserva 2009). Called Malleolus, which we understand to mean small vineyard, this wine was a reserve wine made by a 120 year old family winery. In fact, the wine labels feature pictures of historic family members. Today, the winery is very much engaged socially, featuring a family trust that invests in water resources in poor communities.
The wine itself is 100 percent Tempranillo and had a deep red – almost garnet color. The nose was particularly fruity featuring black cherry, and some vanilla from the oak. Many on the tasting felt that the wine was spicy, and somewhat chocolaty, but we tasted more of the vanilla from the oak combined with cherries, plumbs and other black fruits. The wine itself also had a very fine velvety mouth feel that one would expect from a pricier reserve wine.
This Smooth virtual wine tasting was an extremely fun way for us to learn about a totally new wine region, while trying some excellent examples of Ribera del Duero. Maybe we will see you at the next Snooth virtual wine tasting?! You can check out the video feed from the Ribera Del Duero event, now available on line at: http://www.snooth.com/virtual-tasting/video/ribera-del-duero-virtual-tasting-room/#ixzz2Wz5TrTC2 and you can learn more about Snooth and join their community at http://www.snooth.com
*The Advice Sisters thank John Dunham, our “wine geek” for his help in preparing this review.