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Bodegas Barco de Piedra Tempranillo 2010
As a one of Spain’s leading regions, Ribera del Duero is an icon of growth and innovation whereas its brother, Rioja, represents tradition. While winemaking goes back 2,000 years, only in the 1980s did a small handful of—now iconic—wineries make the region’s potential known to the discerning consumer.
In 1982 a mere nine producers of Ribera del Duero grouped together to achieve the Denominación de Origen (D.O.) status. Ever since then the region has boomed and today over 300 wineries exist.
Bodegas vega sicilia is on the western edge of the denomination and has been producing one of Spain's finest wines since the mid 19th century. Other iconic producers include Pesquera and Dominio de Pingus.
Ribera’s main grape variety, Tempranillo, locally know 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 soil types give Ribera wines a distinctive depth and complexity. Furthermore, the D.O. laws allow for blending of Tinto Fino with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec, a concept introduced by Vega Sicilia 130 years ago. Ribera del Duero red wines have characteristics of dried fig and sweet tomato, cherry and plum with spices of cedar, clove, tobacco, dill, vanilla and leather. A bold structure and smoky aromas make them perfect with anything off the grill, roasted meats and aged cheeses.
Albillo is the white grape of the area and Garnacha produces the region’s rosé.
Notoriously food-friendly with soft tannins, modest alcohol, and bright acidity, Tempranillo is the star of Spain’s Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions. It is important throughout Spain as well as in Portugal, where it is known as Tinta Roriz and is an important component of Port wines and the table wines of the Douro region that Port calls home. California, Washington, and Oregon have all had moderate success with Tempranillo, producing a riper, more fruit-forward style of wine.
In the Glass
Tempranillo is often aged in new oak for the integration of spicy, woodsy, and herbal flavors, often with hints of vanilla, coconut, and dill. The grape itself produces medium-weight reds with bright red and black fruit aromas and hints of spice, leather, and tobacco, with no shortage of flavor.
Tempranillo’s modest, fine-grained tannins and bright acidity make it extremely food friendly, pairing with a wide variety of Spanish-inspired dishes—especially grilled lamb chops, a rich chorizo and bean stew, or paella.
The Spanish take their oak aging requirements very seriously, especially in Rioja. There, a system is in place to indicate on the label how much time the wine has spent in both barrel and bottle before release, which is helpful to the consumer trying to determine the style of an unfamiliar wine. Rioja can range from Joven (fresh, fruity, and unoaked) to Gran Reserva (complex and oxidized from extended barrel aging), with Crianza and Reserva in between.