The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2014

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Page 68 of 134

Demand for Spain's Ribera del Duero wines is on the rise—and for good reason. With Tempranillo holding court as the main variety of the region (known locally as Tinto Fino or Tinta del País), its early-ripening tendencies lends itself well to Ribera's short growing season. Located just north of Madrid, Ribera's Mediterranean climate sees Continental influences marked by extreme weather condi- tions—summers are hot, winters are cold, soils are diverse and with an average of only 16 inches of rainfall per year, conditions are ideal for grape growing. In recent months, THE TASTING PANEL Magazine, along with Drink Ribera, which promotes wines from the region, hosted two tast- ings—one in Los Angeles (look for a recap of that event in the August edition of The SOMM Journal) and one in Miami's South Beach at The Bazaar by José Andrés, nestled in the upscale SLS Hotel—giving us the opportu- nity to sample 60 wines from the region. Within Ribera's classification system of joven, crianza, reserva, gran reserva and rosado wines, we sampled a diverse range of styles along with food pairings, aimed at showcasing how the wines stand up to an array of textures, fats and acids in food. Andrea Robinson, MS, was present to lead both the L.A. and Miami tastings. Before the guests arrived, Robinson talked of the importance in recognizing the big, majestic brands that Ribera is known for—Vega Sicilia and Pesquera—and how they charted the course for the region, but now, "We're seeing new brands trying new things—doing a lot with new French oak, which is interesting to see," she continued. Experimenting with oak, especially using French barrels, as do so many regions of the world, allows for an "experimentation phase to see what works and how we can keep our regional identity." The first 16 wines we tasted all have representation in the U.S. and the results were encouraging. Miami's top sommeliers, wine buyers and chefs joined us for a spirited tasting with Drink Ribera and host, Andrea Robinson, MS (center, standing). :: Age of :: RIBERA RIBERA DEL DUERO WINES OFFER DIVERSE STYLES BUT MAINTAIN REGIONAL IDENTITY Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson. RIBERA RIBERA by Jonathan Cristaldi and Kelly Merritt / photos by Vanessa Rogers

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