Finding a sense of place in Ribera del Duero

Scott Greenberg, special to

WASHINGTON – Over the last decade or so, many critics have alluded to a trend in the wine world where wines are produced to a standard referred to as an “international” style.

This trend results in a noticeable homogenization of many red wines that, regardless of country of origin or varietal, taste the same.

Winemakers appear to be focusing on producing wines with clean, fruit-forward flavors and finishes that are big, bold and one-dimensional. While the movement towards this style has definitely helped to improve the quality of wines, it apparently has come at the expense of removing a sense of place and time that the soul of a wine can – and should – convey.

At a recent tasting of Spanish wines from the region of Ribera del Duero, I was pleasantly surprised by how many of the wines actually tasted “of a place.”

Located in Gumiel de Mercado, a small village in the western region of Ribera del Duero, is the Arrocal winery. Just ten years old, Arrocal has already grabbed the attention of consumers and critics alike. The 2009 Arrocal Finca la Mata spends just about 18 months in oak barrels and has a pronounced dark fruit characteristic on both the nose and in the mouth, including blackberry, black raspberry and Rum cherry notes.

The lengthy finish leaves both a charming and rustic impression that features a touch of saddle leather and earthiness. $19

Tempranillo flourishes in Ribera del Duero, where it is also known as Tinto Fino or Tinta del Pais. It takes on a particularly brooding characteristic in the 2007 Bodegas Cepa 21. Made exclusively from tinto fino, the red cherry and floral violet nose leads to a very well-balanced palate featuring flavors of black cherry, dark plum and black currants.

The fourteen month aging in French and American oak barrel contributes to the structured finish where notes of vanilla and toasty oak linger. $25

Bodegas y Vi

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