If you love the richness and depth of a top-rated Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon but wish to expand your horizons a bit, try the muscular yet elegant Tempranillo based wines of Ribera del Duero. We’re currently tasting hundreds of these wines in preparation for our upcoming Report # 23 on the Wines of Ribera del Duero, which is an update of our last Ribera del Duero report published three years ago. Ribera del Duero offers wines ranging from youthful, lightly oaked wines called “Roble” to rich, dense wines made from the fruit of old vines and aged 1-2 years in oak. The best wines are by no means inexpensive, but relative to the prices of Napa Cabernets of similar quality they represent good value. If you’re open to expanding your horizons, here are some wines you might try. Our upcoming report will provide extensive tasting notes on a long list of great quality Ribera del Duero wines.
Bodegas y Vinedos Montecastro 2005 ($46) 94
A spectacular, opaque ruby wine that is beautifully flavored with refreshing acidity and superb balance. Violets and dark fruit show on the nose, and the layered palate shows dark fruit, blueberry notes, and a dusting of cocoa. This is a wine of both power and elegance with delightful notes of flowers and loam on the finish. Ready to drink now, although it will certainly improve over the next 5-10 years. This wine is the fruit of a project initiated in 2002 by the French enologist Bertrand Erhard. The wine is aged a minimum of 16 months in 70% French oak. We prefer this to the 2004 vintage.
Importer: Classical Wines
Pago de los Capellanes 2006 Reserva ($48) 93
A beautifully structured wine with youthful tannins that should be put away for a couple of years before consuming. The aromas in the glass are a wonder—smoke, bitter chocolate, violets, and essence of black fruit. The palate is equally exotic with superb balance. Think dark fruit, violets, and cigar box. A great rich and elegant wine. Spends 18 months in new French oak. In our opinion, this is better than the 2003 vintage we tasted earlier.
Importer: Antalva Imports, Inc.
Pesquera 2005 Reserva ($53) 92+
This is a traditional Pesquera at its best with notes of earth, spice, animal and dark fruit. It’s a muscular wine with a complex palate of dense black fruit, minerals and ripe tannins. Will improve with more time in bottle to tame the still robust tannins. We recently opened a Reserva from 1990, and it was still fresh and surprisingly youthful. This is the kind of wine to purchase by the case and consume over a decade or more.
Importer: Classical Wines
Valtostao 2004 Legon Reserva ($40) 92
This is a dense, muscular wine with a creamy, full palate. It shows animal fur and rich loam on the nose and a rich attack of black fruit, minerals and earth. It’s beautifully structured with abundant, ripe tannins and a long, long finish of black fruit and minerals. Spends 24 months in American oak plus a minimum of 12 months in bottle before being released.
Importer: Quality Wines of Spain