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Ribera del Duero: tasting 19 leading wines 

Although wine has been made in the Ribera del Duero region of Spain for perhaps 2000 years, it's only recently that the region has achieved celebrity status. Since achieving DO status in the early 1980s, Ribera del Duero has emerged as one of Spain's leading wine regions. Until then, there had just been one wine of note - albeit an exceptional one - Vega Sicilia. 

In the late 1980s and early 1990s the press attention and the obvious quality of some of the new wines led to a bit of a goldrush: vineyards were purchased for large sums and new vineyards were planted. Things seem to be settling down now; there's even a slight excess of grapes produced. 

The region itself is based on Spain's central plateau, and thus is at altitude, ranging from around 750 m to 900 m. It has very cold winters and hot summers, with diurnal swings in temperature. Tempranillo (aka Tinto Fino) is the dominant grape here, and all the attention is on red wines.

This tasting involved a hand-picked selection of 18 wines (chosen by Spain-based Brit Harold Heckle), with the 1996 Vega Sicilia Unico thrown in for good measure. It was a mixed bag, with a few high spots and more than a few rather rather average wines.   



Vine age



Rauda Tinto Joven 2004



Simple primary style. Quite delicious, with an open dark fruits nose and a lovely sweetness to the fruit on the palate. Finishes with earthy, spicy tannins and a bit of bitterness.


Jaros 2003

Pesquera de Duero


Quite a shy nose. Good concentration of pure, slightly savoury fruit on the palate with nice structure and weight. A nice wine.


Blasón de Romero 2002

Aranda de Duero


Very distinctive nose is quite classy, but quite oaky, showing a spicy, roast coffee edge to the dark fruits. More chocolatey coffee oak on the palate dominates this rather firm wine.


Carramimbre 2002



Quite elegant, savoury dark fruits nose. Fresh and brightly fruited palate with a rather austere finish showing roasted oak notes.


Comenge 2002

Curiel de Duero y Pesquera de Duero


Dark, earthy, slightly herby fruit on the nose. The palate shows lovely fresh fruit with good acidity. Nice purity of red fruits here: a supple, quite elegant wine with nice structure.


Félix Callejo 2002

Sotillo de la Ribera


Sweet chocolatey nose: classy and dark. Lovely fruit and good balance on the palate, with some fine tannins and a hint of earth.


Kirios de Adrada 2002



Dark, forward, spicy, fruity nose. The palate is full, fruity and chocolatey with plenty of oak and ripe fruit. A new worldy sort of style.


Montecastro y Llanahermosa 2002

Castrillo de Duero


Sweet coconut and vanilla nose with ripe dark fruits. Supple but oak dominated, although still elegant. The palate shows elegant red and black fruits with a smooth, spicy, earthy finish. Oaky but nice.


Viña Fuentenarro 2002

La Horra


Vivid spicy nose with red and black fruits, together with some chocolatey oak. Spicy, earthy structure: quite savoury with mouthcoating tannins. A structured style.


Aalto PS 2001

La Horra y Quemada


This is fantastic. Wonderful concentrated dark fruits nose with complex red and black fruits, a liqueur-like richness and lots of spiciness. The palate is concentrated and dense with nice fruit sweetness combined with smooth, firm tannins and some earthiness. Lots of potential here. Almost a complete wine.


Briego Fiel 2001



Quite a lifted, tarry, herby red and black fruits nose. Perfumed. Expressive, savoury, tarry palate is quite tannic. Tending towards austerity. Needs time to open out.


Carmelo Rodero 2001

Pedrosa de Duero


Sweet caramelly nose with a slightly eggy edge. The palate is dense, sweet and a bit fudgey. Don’t like terribly much, although there’s good concentration.


D’Anguix 2001



Nicely defined spicy dark fruits nose, with chocolate, spice and tar. The palate has lovely weight and good elegance, showing savoury, spicy dark fruits. Lovely balance: the key here is good acidity.


Hacienda el Monasterio 2001

Pesquera de Duero


Slightly shy nose of classy, elegant red and black fruits. The palate has lovely structure, with earthy, spicy notes. A nice savoury, classical style with some minerality.


Prado Rey 2001

Gumiel de Mercado


Sweet coconutty nose showing smooth red fruits. The palate shows sweet red fruits carrying a strong spicy oak imprint. Acessible and appealing but oaky.


Protos 2001



Quite a sweet open nose with notes of sweet coconut and vanilla. The coconut oak imprint on the palate is a little off-putting. An old fashioned style.


Valsardo 2001



Nice expressive, minerally, tarry nose is fresh, high-toned and expressive. The palate shows open, fresh, bright fruits. It’s midweight with a marked minerality and savoury, tarry red fruit character. Nice stuff.


Áster 2000

Anguix y La Horra


Slightly shy nose with sweet-edged red fruit. A bit herbal. The palate is savoury and midweight; rather simple and fruity with a spicy finish. Not a lot happening here.


Vega Sicilio Unico 1996



Sweet open, perfumed nose with a strong vanilla and coconut overlay to the red and black fruits. The palate is much more promising with dense spicy complexity and lovely supple yet strong tannins giving structure. There’s some tarry minerality, too. The oak is still quite prominent but there is lots happening here: a wine with a bright future ahead of it. There will be another year in the bottle before this wine is released, hence the ‘+’ in the score.


Wines tasted 10/05
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

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