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10% off Ribera wines with code RIBERA
Offer ends 12/31/17. The 10% discount applies only to wines on this list and excludes shipping and tax. Some exclusions may apply. No other promotion codes, coupon codes or corporate discounts may be applied to order.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
It is ironic that one of the youngest properties in the region has one of the most prestigious lineages, but it is the case with Bodegas Aalto. A chance meeting between Mariano Garcia, former star winemaker of Vega Sicilia, and Javier Zaccagnini, former President of the governing body of the Ribera del Duero AOC, gave birth to this quality-oriented estate which produced its first vintage in 1999, a year after its creation.
Ribera del Duero does not benefit from the constantcy of climate in the Southern part of the country and experiences dramatic shifts in temperatures and climatic conditions throughout the year. The winters are quite cold, with temperatures as low as –18 degrees Celsius, and the summers are hot and very dry, with lower than average rainfall than the rest of Spain. Altitude is between 750 and 950 meters and the soil is made up of clay alternated in many parts by sheets of limestone and harder chalk.
Mariano Garcia designed and commissioned the 15,000 liter fermentation tanks formed from stainless steel, and there are other wood fermentation tanks which will soon be used. The original conical shape comes from Mariano’s desire to control and maneuver the cap of the must during the remouage. Each vineyard is harvested, vinified, and aged separately before assemblage just prior to bottling. There is no filtration of the wines following a lengthy ageing in barrel.
The property owns vines in three different sub-zones of Ribera del Duero with a total of 32 hectares scattered between Valladolid and Burgos. The parcels are planted to old clones of Tinto Fino. The property is continuing to buy exceptional parcels of old Tinto Fino, most recently a 10 hectare plot in Quemada of 60+ year old vines of exceptional quality. While some experts believe that Tinto Fino is in fact not far removed from Tempranillo, many experts based in Ribera del Duero strongly believe that there are significant differences between the two varietals, most notably with Tinto Fino over 50 years old.
Home to a diverse array of smaller AVAs with varied microclimates and soil types, Sonoma County has something for nearly every wine lover. Physically twice as large as Napa, the region only produces about half the amount of wine, but what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in both quality and variety. With its laid-back atmosphere and down-to-earth attitude, the wineries of Sonoma are appreciated by wine tourists for their friendliness and approachability. The entire county intends to become a 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019.
Grape varieties are carefully selected to reflect the best attributes of their sites—Dry Creek Valley’s consistent sunshine is ideal for Zinfandel, while the warm Alexander Valley is responsible for rich, voluptuous Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are important throughout the county, most notably in the cooler AVAs of Russian River and Sonoma Valleys, Carneros, and Fort Ross-Seaview. Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Syrah have also found a firm footing here.
An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc, and on the Left Bank, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.
In the Glass
Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry, and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco, and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.
Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.
Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.