Creta Roble 2016
Sotillo de la Ribera is a small village of 600 inhabitants on the northern edge of the DO of Ribera del Duero. Dating back to the middle ages, many of the buildings in Sotillo date to the 18th century when grape growing and winemaking brought prosperity to the village – a tradition which continues today. After many years’ experience making a custom cuvée in the DO, Eric Solomon has recently partnered with Rafael de Haan to make Creta from 30-50 year old vines of Tempranillo grown in clay loam and chalky soils surrounding Sotillo.
British born and educated, Rafael joined the UK wine trade in 2000 but soon realized that he rather have a career closer to the vine. In 2001 he moved to Barcelona, began brokering a selection of estates and opened a tapas bar before establishing his first property, Bodegas Abanico in Rioja with his partner Nuria Altes. In addition to Creta, Rafael de Haan and Nuria Altes run Herencia-Altes in Terra Alta (Nuria’s place of origin), and partner with Eric Solomon to make Hazaña Viñas Viejas in Rioja.
Ribera del Duero is located in northen Spain’s Castilla y León region, just a 2-hour drive from 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.
Notable Facts 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 soils types, give Ribera wines a distinctive depth and complexity not found in other Tempranillos. Rich and full-bodied, the spice, dark fruit and smoky flavors in a bold Ribera del Duero will pair well with roasted and grilled meats, Mexican food and tomato-based sauces.
Notoriously food-friendly with soft tannins and a bright acidity, Tempranillo is the star of Spain’s Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions and important throughout most of Spain. Depending on location, it takes on a few synonyms; in Penedès, it is known as Ull de Llebre and in Valdepeñas, goes by Cencibel. Furthermore in Portugal, known as Tinta Roriz, it is a key component both in Port and the dry red wines of the Douro. The New World regions of California, Washington and Oregon have all had success with Tempranillo, producing a ripe, amicable and fruit-dominant style of red.
In the Glass
Tempranillo produces medium-weight reds with strawberry and black fruit characteristics and depending on yield, growing conditions and winemaking, can produce hints of spice, toast, leather, tobacco, herb or vanilla.
Tempranillo’s modest, fine-grained tannins and good acidity make it extremely food friendly. Pair these 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 naming system is in place to indicate how much time the wine has spent in both barrel and bottle before release. Rioja labeled Joven (a fresh and fruity style) spends a year or less in oak, whereas Gran Reserva (complex and age-worthy) must be matured for a minimum of two years in oak and three years in bottle before release. Requirements on Crianza and Reserva fall somewhere in between.