The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2016

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40  /  the tasting panel  /  march 2016 SPAIN From a Dynamic Duo, a Delicious Whole A TASTING OF THE WINES OF RIBERA Y RUEDA REVEALS THEIR "DARK" AND "BRIGHT" SIDES by Cliff Rames T he concept of yin and yang describes opposite or contrary forces that are actually interconnected, interdependent and comple- mentary. And so it is with the Ribera y Rueda marketing initiative, which united two of Spain's most exciting wine regions, D.O. Ribera del Duero and D.O. Rueda, into a singular force for deliciously diverse, affordable and food- friendly wines. Affirmation of this concept arrived during a Ribera y Rueda (RyR) Trade Media Vintage Tasting in New York City, where twelve wines from the 2009–2015 vintages were poured. Hosted by Alexander LaPratt, Master Sommelier, Felipe Gonzalez- Gordon, U.S. Director for the RyR partnership, and Luis Eduardo Garcia Gonzalez, winemaker from Bodegas Emina, the tasting dem- onstrated how the bright, citrusy and mineral-laced Verdejo whites of Rueda and the dark, fruit-driven Tempranillo reds of Ribera deliver diversity and inde- pendent style on one hand and overarching authenticity, quality and food-friendliness on the other. To accentuate the food-pairing prowess of the wines, a selection of Spanish cheeses, buttery olives, spicy sausages and crusty breads enticed. With the crack of a neon green screwcap and a tantaliz- ing, mineral-infused whiff of the Marqués de Cáceres 2015 Verdejo, Rueda kicked off the tasting; we responded to the wine's vibrant guava, lime, melon, crunchy sea salt and bitter almond notes with a gratifying, collective slurp. Equally pleasant, the Viña Mayor 2015 Verdejo presented grassy, citrus and pineapple with hints of fennel and mint on a creamy lees- inspired texture. Wildflowers, dried honey and candied green apple perfumed the biodynamic Hermanos Lurton 2015 Verdejo, giving way to flavors of lush honey- dew melon, stone fruits and minerals and an oily yet lithe finish. Produced from Verdejo grapes of ungrafted vines, the Harenna 2014 bloomed with pineapple, passionfruit, golden apple and a creamy, chewy texture dusted with minerals. Contrasting the crisp whites were two oak-aged Verdejo wines: a 2014 from Castelo de Medina (ripe apple, pineapple, dried mango, hazelnut skins) and a 2013 from Protos (baked apple, buttered hazelnut, bourbon)—both distinctly delicious. From neighboring Ribera del Duero, the Emina 2009 Crianza Prestigio prevailed among the reds: elegant but built with cassis, violet, dried plum, black pepper and cedar on a frame of mas- saged tannins. Later vintages of Emina Crianza Prestigio were equally impressive: the 2010 presented licorice, roasted coffee, cigar ash and fine-tuned tannins and bal- anced finish; the riper 2012 recalled black cherry liqueur, sweet oak and plump but powerful tannins—it pro- vided an easy transition to the three wines from Alonso del Yerro, which were bolder, more concentrated and meaty. Exemplifying the power Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero can convey, the 2010 was dense and unctuous, packed with dried black cherry, licorice and floral notes, silky tannins and a deeply layered, persistent finish. The Ribera y Rueda slogan invites us to explore and "Sí What's Next." With more than 2,000 SKUs currently available on the U.S. market, much more from Spain's Dynamic Duo beckons to be tasted. We can't wait!

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