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Bodegas Barco de Piedra Tempranillo 2011

Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, Spain
  • RP91
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Winemaker Notes

Organic viticulture; minimal oak ageing; a Ribera del Duero wine that shows depth and drinkability while young; an extraordinary value!

Pork and veal have an essentially sweet "bass note" that is complimented nicely by Tempranillo's sweet nature, so these meats pair extremely well with Barco de Piedra. Unlike most Riojas, which tend toward softer strawberry and red fruits, Ribera del Dueros are some of the most robust reds from Spain, usually showing a black fruit, mineral and "meaty" character that many people feel is a better match with beef steak than any California Cabernet or Zinfandel. For simple fare, aged hard cheese like manchego, jamon iberico, Spanish almonds, Sevilla olives and crusty bread are exceptional accompaniments for this wine.

Critical Acclaim

RP 91
The Wine Advocate

A sensational value from Ribera del Duero (which rarely produces interesting wines for under $25), the 2011 Barco de Piedra is 100% Tempranillo aged five months in a combination of French and American oak (85% and 15% respectively), all three-year-old used barrels. It exhibits notes of flowers, licorice, new saddle leather, black currants and cherries.

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Bodegas Barco de Piedra

Bodegas Barco de Piedra

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Bodegas Barco de Piedra, , Spain
Bodegas Barco de Piedra
Barco de Piedra is a joyous affirmation of the beauty and purity of the Tempranillo grape as it is grown in the Ribera del Duero DO. The noble Tempranillo, called Tinto Fino or Tinta del Pais by locals, has suffered from producers who like to use excessive “make up,” too much new oak or winemaking technique, which obscures the identity of the grape. The logic behind Barco de Piedra is simple: the Tempranillo grape grown in Ribera del Duero has plenty of tannins, you don’t need to add more, which is precisely what oak ageing will do. The grape’s thick skin naturally produces powerful, robust wines packed with flavor. Adding more power and oak to something already powerful is overkill. The climate conditions of cool nights, low rainfall and great old vines taken together produce small berries with a high skin-to-juice ratio. The three parcels that produce grapes for Barco de Piedra are located on the hillside of the Quiñón Estate, a location with a special equilibrium of temperature, drainage and soil type. Raspberry and violet aromas with rose petal, blueberry and mineral notes make this wine one of the prettiest examples of the elegance and structure of Ribera del Duero, one of the great wine regions of the world.

Bordeaux

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One of the most important wine regions of the world both qualitatively and quantitatively...

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One of the most important wine regions of the world both qualitatively and quantitatively, Bordeaux is a powerhouse producer of wines of all colors, sweetness levels, and price points. Separated from the Atlantic ocean by a coastal pine forest, the mostly flat region has a mild maritime climate marked by cool wet winters and a warm, damp growing season, though annual differences vary enough to make vintage variation quite significant. Unpredictable weather at harvest time may negatively impact the ability of cornerstone variety Cabernet Sauvignon to ripen fully, while humid conditions can encourage the spread of rot and disease (although in the case of the region’s sweet white wines, “noble” rot known as botrytis is highly desirable). The Gironde estuary is a defining feature of Bordeaux, splitting the region into the Left Bank and the Right Bank. The vast Entre-Deux-Mers appellation lies in between.

The Left Bank, dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, contains the Médoc, Graves, and Sauternes, as well as most of the region’s most famous chateaux. Here, Merlot is commonly planted as an insurance policy in case Cabernet fails to fully ripen in difficult years. Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec may also be used in blends. This tends to be the more structured and age-worthy side of Bordeaux. Merlot is the principal variety of the Right Bank, with Cabernet Franc as its primary sidekick, with the other three varieties available for blending. The key appellations here include St. Emilion and Pomerol, whose wines are often plush, supple, and more imminently ready for drinking. Dry and sweet white wines are produced throughout the region from Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and sometimes Muscadelle or Sauvignon Gris. Some of the finest dry whites can be found in the the Graves sub-appellation of Pessac-Léognan, while Sauternes is undisputedly the gold standard for sweet wines. Small amounts of rosé and sparkling wine are made in Bordeaux as well.

Bordeaux Blends

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One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine...

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One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington, and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and/or Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde river, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.

In the Glass

Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux can be bold and fruit-forward or restrained and earthy, while New World facsimiles tend to emulate the former style. In general, Bordeaux red blends can have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.

Perfect Pairings

Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful, and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb, or smoked duck.

Sommelier Secret

While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or virtually any other grape deemed worthy by the winemaker. In Australia, Shiraz is a common component.

CNC682082_2011 Item# 121088

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