This year I was selected to be part of the ‘Best of Bloggers 2021’ Ribera del Duero tasting jury, where myself and 9 other wine bloggers & sommeliers blind-tasted and rated a range of 100 Ribera del Duero wines. The tasting took place at the end of August in Düsseldorf and I’m excited to finally reveal the results!
About the Region
Ribera del Duero is a sub-region of Castilla y León (about 2 hours north of Madrid) with D.O. status in Spain. The main grape is Tempranillo – also known as ‘Tinta del País’ or ‘Tinto Fino’. The region’s vineyards stretch out along the River Duero for over 100 km at altitudes between 720 – 1100 metres above sea level. The climate is extreme continental with bitter cold winters and blistering summer heat. From day to night diurnal temperature swings can range anywhere from -20 to +40°C, which helps extend the growing season by up to 20 days. This extended ripening period means that the thick-skinned, often old vine Tempranillo grapes have extra time for tannin polymerisation, giving the wines their characteristic ripe or ‘sweet’ tannin profile. Note: the wines themselves aren’t sweet, it’s just a perception and characteristic component to many of the regions big bold reds. Yum!
The wines of Ribera del Duero are recognised for being the purest expression of Spain’s beloved Tempranillo grape. In general, compared to Rioja – where the wines tend to be less overtly mouth-drying or astringent with a fresher, red fruit profile – the wines of R.d.D tend to be fuller-bodied, deeper in colour and concentration with higher tannins and more alcohol. They boast bold black fruit, smoke and spice aromas with a refined old-word impression. It’s also important to note that, while the majority of reds from R.d.D are made purely from Tempranillo, the D.O. does allow blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec. In Rioja, the classic blending partners are Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo and Viura.
The wines for the Ribera del Duero ‘Best of Bloggers 2021’ tasting were served blind starting with Rosado and moving up through the reds, which were organised in categories from young to old.
The Rating System:
92-95 Individual, Outstanding Quality
84-87 Very Good
In the Rosado category, my favourite was the 2019 Viña Pilar Rosado from Bodegas Félix Callejo, the Jury’s overall 3rd pick with a score of 86. The top scoring Rosado overall was the 2020 Conde De San Cristobal Flamingo Rose from the Grupo Vinicola Marques De Vargas with an average jury score of 88 points.
In the young red category for vintages 2018-2019, my favourite was the 2018 Viña Pedrosa Crianza from Bodegas Hnos. Pérez Pascuas. According to the jury, this was one of 3 wines tying for 1st place with a score of 92 points. The other two wines are the 2018 El Lagar De Isilla Paraje Peñalobos from Bodegas El Lagar De Isilla, and the 2018 Adaro De Pradorey Crianza from Real Sitio De Ventosilla.
In the ‘lightly aged’ red category for vintages 2016-2017, my favourite was the 2016 Vilano La Baraja Reserva from Bodegas Vilano. According to the jury, this tied for 1st place with the 2016 Tresmatas Reserva from Bodegas Y Viñedos Vega De Yuso and the 2016 Viña Mayor Reserva from the Grupo Bodegas Palacio 1894. All 3 wines came in at 93 points.
Finally, in the ‘riper’ red category of mixed vintages, I had 3 tying favourites. The 2014 Viña Mayor Gran reserva from Grupo Bodegas Palacio 1894, the 2005 Mirat Gran reserva from Bodegas Valdeviñas, and the 2015 12 Linajes Reserva from D.O.5. Hispanobodegas.
The jury also had 3 wines tying for the top position, one of which being the 2005 Mirat Gran reserva, along with the 2014 F De Fuentespina Reserva from Avelino Vegas and the 2014 Viña Sastre-Pago De Santa Cruz Gran reserva from Bodegas Hnos. Sastre – all coming in at 94 points.
Interested in learning more about the wines from Ribera del Duero? Click here!