Thursday Vinopolpick– 1/9/14

January 19, 2014
Ribera del Duero 

Located in north-central Spain, to the southwest of Rioja, the high plain of Ribera del Duero is Tempranillo country. As a region, Ribera del Duero came to prominence in the 1980s for its deeply colored, boldy fruity and tannic reds from its own more structured Tinta del País or Tinto Fino (local names for Tempranillo). Though, as with Rioja, the DO also allows for the use of other grape varieies in the blending process, most of the Ribera del Duero wines are made solely from the old vine Tempranillo that grows here.Ribera del Duero sits on the elevated northern plateau of the Iberian Peninsula, divided by the Duero River, which provides the local vineyards with a much-needed water supply. Alternating layers of limestone, marl, and chalk under a silt and clay topsoil add complexity and character to Ribera del Duero wines. Temperatures can be extreme in northern Spain, but the large difference in day and night temperatures is responsible for the ripening and concentration of the grapes’ sugars, creating wines of exemplary depth and balance. These dark wines can age gracefully for years, with a firm tannin structure and complex aromas of mulberry and blackberry.

Winemaking in Ribera dates back to the Roman era, as evidenced by a 2000-year-old Bacchian mosaic tile floor that was unearthed in 1972, yet the DO of Ribera Del Duero was only officially recognized in 1982. The area did not produce much wine before the mid-1800’s, focusing primarily on Roses and bulk farming. Today, Ribera del Duero boasts wines that have undergone a radical change in terms of both quality and accessibility, with many now ranked among the finest in the world and enjoying widespread distribution. Small family bodegas stretching back generations sit alongside modern corporate wineries. New technology and modern techniques as well as a respect for tradition have driven the quality of Ribera del Duero to its highest accomplishments in over two millennia of winemaking history.  The success of more established producers, such as Vega Sicilia, Emilio Moro and, Dominio de Pingus, has inspired local growers and winemakers of Ribera to focus on making high quality reds, helping the area as a whole to gain international appeal.
Peter Sisseck has had a blessed run during his career in the wine business. In 1993, oenologist Peter arrived in Spain to manage a new project, Hacienda Monasterio. Originally from Denmark, Peter fell in love with Ribera del Duero’s twisted vines and found several ancient vineyards that inspired him to make his own wine. From the beginning, Peter’s vision was to push old-vine Tempranillo to its upper limits, spending the first years pruning the gnarled old vines back to health. In 1995, he opened Dominio de Pingus, and released the first vintage to rave reviews, making Pingus a true benchmark wine, known and admired wherever great wine is discussed.Peter’s tiny production of fewer than 500 cases of Pingus, which now sells at prices $700+ / bottle, comes from three parcels of ancient, head-pruned Tempranillo vines. The Flor de Pingus is sourced from a number of small parcels located in the La Horra zone, vines that are all over 35 years of age and have been farmed biodynamically since 2005.The wines, fermented in large wooden vats and, once in cask, mostly left alone, are bottled without fining or filtration. Over the past decade, Peter has continually refined his original vision. Since 2001, he has employed biodynamic viticulture to produce healthier vineyards, balancing decadent richness with a rare sense of elegance. Simple discussion of techniques cannot begin to explain the final product, a wine Robert Parker has called “extraordinary” and “one of the most outstanding wines produced in Spain.”

For Peter, Pingus’ success has been a gift worth sharing and in 2006, with that spirit in mind, PSI began. With the help of winemaker Pablo Rubio, their aim is to move these growers, step-by-step, towards farming healthier vineyards and getting better fruit, making available their expertise and equipment and rewarding growers with higher prices for their fruit as the quality improves. Peter’s goal with PSI is to encourage the local growers who have been working the vineyards to use modern organic practices to produce a wine that truly represents Ribera del Duero. The wines of Pingus are a mirror of the Ribera del Duero region, pushing forward with their modern style and approachability, while embracing the ancient and powerful Tempranillo vines that have grown here for centuries.


  Pingus Wines- All Here Now 
Pingus PSI Ribera Del Duero 2010 ($41.95) $29 special only 20 botttles
Stephen Tanzer 92 points
 “Bright purple. Pungent, expressive scents of cherry and dark berries, dried flowers and incense. Sappy cherry and cassis flavors are braced by tangy acidity and gain sweetness with air. Richer on the finish, with its resounding notes of cherry compote and Asian spices. This vibrant wine drinks very easily right now.”Pingus PSI Ribera Del Duero 2011 ($44.95) $33 special arrives today- 5 cases available
Stephen Tanzer 91 points
 “Glass-staining ruby.  Dark berry, bitter chocolate and potpourri on the perfumed nose.  Spicy, penetrating black and blue fruit flavors show impressive clarity and lift, with a zesty mineral nuance adding bite.  Smooth and seamless on the subtly tannic finish, which leaves juicy blueberry and violet pastille notes behind.”

Pingus Flor de Pingus 2010 ($99.95) $89 special 3+ cases available
Stephen Tanzer 94 points
 “Vivid purple. Ripe cherry, cassis, potpourri and cracked pepper on the intensely perfumed nose, with subtle licorice and woodsmoke qualities adding complexity. Deep, sweet and expansive, offering explosive dark berry compote, floral pastille and anise flavors. A spicy quality gains strength on the finish, which leaves smoke and mineral notes behind. This bottling has been going from strength to strength in recent years and offers superb value relative to its ritzy Pingus sibling.”

Pingus Flor de Pingus 2011 ($109.95) $69 super special 6+ cases available
Wine Advocate 93-95 points
 “The 2011 Flor de Pingus demonstrates wonderful purity on the nose, perhaps more feminine and wily than the 2010 with luscious raspberry, blackberry and forest floor notes. The palate is full-bodied with filigree tannins and a little more volume than the 2010. It seems generous and very supple at this early juncture with a caressing, peppery finish that is extremely well focused. There 2011 has awesome potential and I cannot wait to taste this after two or three years in bottle.”

Stock List- Other Offerings from Ribera del Duero
Vivir, Vivir Ribera del Duero 2007 ($17.95) $14.90 special 16 bottles available
Wine Advocate 90 points
 “The 2007 Vivir, vivir is 100% Tempranillo sourced from 20- to 60-year-old vines in La Horra. It was aged for ten months in tank prior to bottling. Dark ruby-colored, it features racy aromatics of mineral, spice box, black cherry and blackberry. Silky on the palate with no hard edges, this tasty wine will provide pleasure over the next three years.”Cepa 21 Hito Ribera Del Duero 2010 ($17.95) $10.90 special 4+ cases available
Stephen Tanzer 90 points
 “Bright ruby. Pungent aromas of cherry, dark berries, licorice and mocha, with a subtle note of cracked pepper in the background. Juicy, penetrating bitter cherry and cassis flavors unfold to show a richer plummy character. Closes smoky and long, with gentle tannins and lingering spiciness.”

Teofilo Reyes Ribera del Duero 2009 ($31.95) $24 special 13 bottles available
Wine Advocate 90 points
 “The 2009 Teofilo Reyes is a pure Tempranillo from Manzanillo and Penafiel, from 10- to14-year-old vines and matured for 16 months in new and used American and French oak. It has a well-defined nose of dark cherries and boysenberry fruit with just a hint of soy. The palate is medium-bodied with a ripe, sweet entry of black cherries and bilberry fruit that leads to a clean, precise, focused finish. Fine. Drink now-2016.”

Emilio Moro Finca Resalso Ribera del Duero 2010 ($17.95) $14 special 21 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 90+ points
 “Saturated ruby.  Primary dark berry and cherry skin aromas are complicated by notes of rose and anise.  Juicy and precise on the palate, with very good energy to its redcurrant and bitter cherry flavors.  Finishes tight and energetic, with the redcurrant and anise notes repeating.  This is a baby.”Emilio Moro Finca Resalso Ribera del Duero 2011 ($17.95) $10.90 special 4+ cases available
Stephen Tanzer 90+ points 
“Dark purple.  Intense, spice-accented aromas and flavors of cherry compote and cassis, with cola nuance building with air.  Sappy, penetrating and extremely young, but promising, with strong finishing cut and silky tannins.”

Emilio Moro Malleolus Ribera del Duero 2009 ($49.95) $39 special 4+ cases available
Stephen Tanzer 93 points
 “Opaque purple.  A heady, complex bouquet evokes blackberry and blackcurrant liqueur, with suave oak spice and potpourri elements.  Sweet, broad and pliant, the  intense dark fruit flavors showing great power, richness and depth.  Very young but flat-out seductive, finishing on a sweet, sappy note of candied dark fruits, with lush, harmonious tannins.”

Emilio Moro Malleolus de Valderramiro 2009 ($159.95) $128 special 12 bottles available
Wine Advocate 97-100 points
 “The 2009 Malleolus de Valderramiro was tasted from a barrel sample. Opaque purple in color, it offers up an alluring bouquet of Asian spices, incense, licorice, blueberry, and blackberry. Dense, rich, and full-bodied, it has great flavors and balance. Once in bottle it looks to be a candidate for perfection.”

Emilio Moro Malleolus de Sanchomartin 2009 ($179.95) $149 special only 1 bottle available
Wine Advocate 97-100 points
 “The 2009 Malleolus de Sanchomartin was tasted from a barrel sample. Opaque purple in color with lovely floral aromas, Asian spices, and incense, on the palate it effortlessly combines power with elegance. It has superb grip, great volume, and plush, succulent fruit. It has the structure to evolve for 8-10 years and should drink well through 2040.”


Vina Sastre Ribera del Duero 2011 ($19.95) $16 special 4+ cases available
Stephen Tanzer 91 points
 “Bright purple. Pungent aromas of blueberry, cherry-cola and smoky minerals, with a spicy overtone.  Expansive black and blue fruit flavors show impressive depth and energy, picking up a smoky nuance with air. Closes on a spicy note, with gentle tannic grip and excellent length. Pretty impressive for an entry-level wine, especially from this vintage.”Vina Sastre Pagos de Santa Crus 2010 ($79.95) $69 special 12 bottles available
Pago de Santa Cruz is produced from a parcel of en vaso vines whose average age exceeds 65 years. The wine is aged 18 months in new American oak and is bottled unfined and unfiltered. Intense and spicy dark fruit flavors show the structure and capacity to age for at least 15 years.

Vina Sastre Santa Cruz Gran Reserva 1999 ($129.95) $99 special 11 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 94 points
 “Ruby-red. Sexy, expansive aromas of cherry-vanilla, blueberry, spicecake and potpourri. Lush, palate-coating dark fruit flavors display liqueur-like depth and sweetness but are unexpectedly energetic, with notes of zesty minerals and candied flowers adding complexity. The floral note resonates on the endless, juicy, sharply focused finish. Sastre thinks that when this wine is mature, “in about 10 or 15 more years,” it will smell and taste a lot like a Barolo”

Vina Sastre Santa Cruz Gran Reserva 1996 ($149.95) $119 special 12 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 91 points
 “Bright purple. Pungent aromas of blueberry, cherry-cola and smoky minerals, with a spicy overtone.  Expansive black and blue fruit flavors show impressive depth and energy, picking up a smoky nuance with air. Closes on a spicy note, with gentle tannic grip and excellent length. Pretty impressive for an entry-level wine, especially from this vintage.”

Bodegas Alion Ribera Del Duero 2007 ($109.95) $89 special 8 bottles available
Wine Advocate 94 points
 “The 2007 Alion continues the winery’s string of outstanding vintages. It is 100% Tempranillo with malolactic fermentation in barrel followed by aging in new French oak. It offers up an exceptionally fragrant and complex bouquet of wood smoke, pencil lead, exotic spices, incense, lavender, and blackberry. On the palate it displays impressive volume, a smooth texture, layered flavors, and a lengthy, seamless finish. This impressive effort will continue to blossom for several more years and provide much pleasure through 2027.”Bodegas Alion Ribera Del Duero 2008 ($89.95) $77 special 4 cases available
Stephen Tanzer 92 points
 “Deep ruby. Expressive aromas of candied cherry and cassis, with complicating notes of cola, anise and violet. Plush and seamless on the palate, offering sweet red and dark berry flavors and slow-building oak spice and licorice nuances. Closes on a smoky note, with spiciness and very good persistence. Pretty impressive for the year.”

Vega Sicilia Valbuena Ribera del Duero 2008 ($149.95) $119 special 9 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 93 points
  “Opaque ruby.  Sexy, oak-spicy aromas of dark berry preserves, pipe tobacco, licorice and vanilla, with a smoky overtone.  Plush, expansive blueberry and cherry-vanilla flavors show superb depth and pick up Indian spice and bitter chocolate nuances with air.  Finishes sweet and seamless, with slow-building tannins and a whiplash of sweet blue fruit.”Vega Sicilia Valbuena Ribera del Duero 2007 ($179.95) $133 special 4 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 93 points
 “Ruby-red. Aromas of dried cherry, raspberry, vanilla, mocha and Cuban tobacco, with smoke and potpourri accents. Supple and expansive, offering sweet, spice-accented red and dark berry and floral pastille flavors that stain the palate. Dusty tannins add shape and grip to the very long, smooth, penetrating finish. I find this wine quite approachable now but it has the balance to age. Not the weightiest Valbuena but very impressive for the vintage.”

Vega Sicilia Unico Ribera del Duero 2003 ($399.95) $319 special 12 bottles available
Wine Spectator 94 points 
“This red is generous and expressive, delivering dried cherry, tobacco, mineral and spice flavors in a rich, round texture, with a good balance of well-integrated tannins and racy acidity. More harmonious than assertive, but shows plenty of depth. Drink now through 2023.”

Vega Sicilia Reserva Especial NV ($499.95) $419 special 5 bottles available
Wine Advocate 99 points
 “The 2011 Release is rich, spicy, and complex. It has impeccable balance and another 20 years of life. It simply does not get any better. When you consider that the Reserva Especial sells for less than half the price of a Bordeaux First Growth (and you don’t have to wait for 20 years for it to be approachable) it is one of the great bargains in world-class wine.”