"Regarding Hacienda Monasterio, all you really need to know is that the wine is made by Peter Sisseck, the man behind Pingus. The vineyards are located half way between Pesquera del Duero (Pesquera) and Valbuena (Vega Sicilia). The 2004 Crianza is 80% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo), 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot. Purple-colored, the wine has an open and expressive nose of violets, lilies, spice box, black currant, and blackberry liqueur which leaps from the glass. It has an intense entry with layers of concentrated sweet fruit, excellent balance, and a sense of elegance. It is lacking only in complexity which is sure to follow with more time in the bottle. Drink this hedonistic effort now and over the next 20 years."
Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
Hacienda Monasterio Winery
Hacienda Monasterio is owned by Carlos del Rio whose family has been in the sherry business for decades. Being fortunate enough to own some prime, south-facing parcels on the right side of the river, Carlos hired Peter Sisseck, the owner/winemaker of the famed Ribera estate Pingus to take over the winemaking in 1995. Peter has helped to turn this old estate into a Ribera powerhouse with wines that can age for years.
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Ribera del Duero is located in Spain's Castilla y León region, just a 2-hour drive north of Madrid. While winemaking in this area goes back more than 2000 years, it was in the 1980s that 9 wineries applied for and were granted Denominación de Origen (D.O.) status. Today, more than 300 wineries call Ribera del Duero home, including some of Spain's most iconic names.
Ribera’s main grape variety, Tempranillo, locally known as Tinto Fino, is perfectly suited to the extreme climate of the region, where it must survive scorching summers and frigid winters. Low yields resulting from conscientious tending to old vines planted in Ribera's diverse soils types, give Ribera wines a distinctive depth and complexity not found in other Tempranillos. Rich and full-bodied, Ribera del Duero wines pair well with roast meats and aged cheeses.
The third largest country in production, Spain ranks first in land under vine. Diversity and innovation are the key factors bringing Spain back into the world wine market.
The most popular red varieties of Spain include Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache). Whites don't garner quite as much recognition, but there are some regional varieties not to be missed, like Albarino and Verdejo. The popular red regions of Spain include Rioja, known for its outstanding wines of the Tempranillo grape; Ribera del Duero, producing high quality reds from Tempranillo and Garnacha; Galacia, with the sub-region of Rias Baixas, home to the deliciously crisp and floral Albarino grape; and Priorat, a region increasing in popularity with its high-quality cult reds. Other regions of note are Rueda, growing the Verdejo grape, La Mancha, a wide desert region, covered in the most planted white variety in the world, Airen, and Jumilla, making wines based on Monastrell (Mourvedre).
Spain's wine laws are based on the Denominacion de Origen (DO) classification system, devised in the 1930's. A four tiered system, the most basic level is Vina de Mesa (table wine) followed by Vino de la Tierra (country wine), DO and at the top DOC. Currently, only Rioja and Priorat have DOC status, while over 65 DO's scatter the country.
Most DO regions are classified and regulated by how long they age the wines. On a red wine label, one may find the terms Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva, denoting the wine's barrel and bottle time. Crianza is usually two years between barrel and bottle (the time in each depends on the DO and/or the winemaker), Reserva up to 4 years and Gran Reserva 5 – 6 years. Classifications of each region and wine are controlled by the region's Consejo Regulador.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.