The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2010

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Page 81 of 116

The legendary Bodegas Vega Sicilia produces one of Ribera’s top wines. BARELY A GENERATION HAS PASSED SINCE RIbeRA del dueRo BECAME AN OFFICIAL SPANISH DENOMINACION DE ORIGEN IN 1982. DURING THAT TIME, IT HAS GROWN FROM BEING SPAIN’S NEWEST AND ONE OF ITS SMALL- EST WINE-PRODUCING REGIONS (ALL OF EIGHT WINERIES AT THE START) TO ARGUABLY ITS FINEST, AND—PERHAPS EVEN MORE OF AN ACHIEVEMENT— ITS MOST TRADITIONAL and scrambling to fi nd a new identity, the Ribera—which stretches across parts of four provinces along the Duero River, some 120 miles north of Madrid—settled in with fi rm, consistent, ripe but undeniably Old World wines. Most are made entirely from that quintessential Spanish grape, Tempranillo, with maybe a dollop of Cabernet Sauvignon (which has been planted in the area since at least as far back as the 19th century), but nothing else. In some indefi nable way, they taste like Spain. So far, so good. And for a time, the Ribera was the W Spanish fl avor of the month for American sommeliers and assorted wine geeks, who usually mangled the pronuncia- tion (ree-BEAR-a del DWAIR-oh) but got the point across. Inevitably, though, they moved on—to the Priorat and to Toro, Jumilla and then Bierzo, and now to Prieto Picudo, Valdeorras and parts unknown. That has left the Ribera as a hile the Rioja reacted to Spain’s 1990s breakout as a top-quality wine country by largely aban- doning everything it had been doing for years The Ribera region runs along the Duero River. fi rm, consistent, undeniably Old World but now resolutely unsexy Spanish wine region that many consumers never think about. Which means the stage is set for Act Two. Having just returned from my latest trip to the region, I can report that the Ribera’s wines are as good as ever. Better, actually. The dusty vineyards of gnarled old vines april 2010 / the tasting panel / 81 MAP COURTESY OF DRINK RIBERA. DRINK SPAIN. PHOTO COURTESY OF DRINK RIBERA. DRINK SPAIN PHOTO COURTESY OF DRINK RIBERA. DRINK SPAIN.

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