The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2010

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Page 84 of 116

SPAIN Drink Ribera. Drink Spain. RIbeRA del dueRo CAPTURES THE IMAGINATION IN NYC story and photos by lana bortolot Winery Spotlight: Ramón Bilbao Vinos y Viñedos Ana Bermudez, from Tempranillo, Inc., pours Emilio Moro. Importer alert: Several Ribera produc- ers are not yet imported With confidence in Spanish wines at an all-time high, chief wine- maker and Managing Director Rodolfo Bastida expanded Ramón Bilbao’s operations into four regions from its origins in Rioja. He introduced Volteo, a line of value-priced wines from the Castilla-La Mancha region. But of late, he’s focused on Ribera del Duero, producing wines from 30- year-old vines in the Pagos de los Hoyales, in the heart of Ribera’s “Golden Mile.” His 2006 Cruz de Alba Left to right: Alex Berlingeri, Wine Sources Imports; Dolores Garcia and Irena Molina, Bodegas La Cepa Alta; Smadar Berlingeri, Wine Sources Imports. I n February, Ribera hosted a grand tasting kick off in New York with more than 90 classic and boutique wineries united under the slogan “Drink Ribera. Drink Spain.” The producers hope to capture the imagination of the trade and consumers who, while not exactly weary of Rioja, are increasingly seeking wines that reflects Spain’s modernity. Ribera’s unique selling proposition is its unique expression due to the extreme climate, with wide temperature differences between night and day, and elevation of the vines. The result: powerful and elegant wines that reflect climate and terroir. While other regions 84 / the tasting panel / april 2010 Left to right: J. Felipe Martin Cabezon, Export director for Bodegas y Viñedos Garcia Figuero; Antonio Garcia Figuero, owner; Al DeWinter, New York Sales Manager for Quintessential Wines. have dipped in popularity, market share for Ribera has been stable and growing. Alex Berlingeri, owner of Wine Sources Imports in Bergen County, NJ, took note of Ribera last year. This year, he show- cased his hand-picked producer, Bodegas La Cepa Alta, a family-owned estate. “I felt that Ribera in particular has been producing well-balanced and well-lay- ered wines that are very interesting and appealing to the American palate,” he said. “You have to be the one who gets behind the product because [Ribera] gets lost on the shelf with all the other Spanish wines; but once people taste what’s in the bottle, they’re enthusiastic.” Crianza is a biodynamically pro- duced, estate-made Tempranillo (SRP: $24.99), fermented using traditional Bordeaux methods but styled for a modern palate. “We’re looking for consumers who know Spanish wines and who think they know Tempranillo, but want to be surprised,” said Bastida during a recent visit to New York City. “People are looking for fruity wines . . . but still want structure and rich characteristics.” Aged in new and second-use French oak for 15 months, followed by bottle aging for 10 months, the wine is full-bodied and deeply fruited with black cherries, licorice and traces of minerality typical of the region. It’s ready to drink now or will cellar for up to 10 years. —L.B. Imported by W. J. Deutsch & Sons

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