Tastings – Wine & Spirits Magazine

Tastings


93             Bodegas Hnos. Pérez Pascuas     $25     2019 Ribera del Duero Crianza El Pedrosal
Aside from feeling pure and tasting fresh and delicious, there’s dimension to this wine in its weave of spices and notes of fresh cherries and cherry leaves. The acidity and tannins pull back on all the fruit, creating a rich undertow. This is young-vine tempranillo showing off its provenance without ambitions. Think Global, Santa Barbara, CA

92             Bodegas Aster     $23     2016 Ribera del Duero Crianza
The team at La Rioja Alta settled in Anguix when they set out to produce an estate-grown Ribera del Duero. Their 2016 is tannic, as cool and black as a moonless night. Tight and smoky at first, it reveals some spice and fruit ripeness that brings a peachy edge to the dark fruit. Decant it for slow-braised short ribs. Skurnik Wines, NY

92             Dominio de Atauta     $20     2018 Ribera del Duero Torre de Golban Crianza
Jaime Suarez of Dominio de Atauta makes this tart and fresh style of Ribera del Duero at a separate bodega in town. The Crianza is a 50-50 blend of fruit from Soría, in the eastern highlands (the 70- to 80-year-old vines growing in sandy soil), with grapes from Burgos, in the west (from 30-year-old vines growing in clay). It’s a tannic 2018, but those tannins seem to use air to open toward refreshment, allowing fresh boysenberry flavors to show, as well as sanguine notes and briny black-olive complexity. Decant it for grilled lamb. Aviva Vino, NY

92             Bela     $19     2020 Ribera del Duero Bela
Bela is CVNE’s project in Ribera del Duero, based on 182 acres of vines in the sand- and clay-loam soils of Villalba and another 22 acres in small parcels in the highlands around Moradillo de Roa (at an altitude of 3,280 feet), where the ground is packed with stones. The wine is dark and satisfying, a black robe of fruit cloaking the gentle tannins. There’s black-currant jam and lingonberry flavor in a completely dry, savory structure, giving the wine an austere impression at first. As it settles in, there’s plenty of room for grilled lamb, or coffee-rubbed barbecue. Arano, Miami, FL

91             Arnaiz     $30     2011 Ribera del Duero Gran Reserva
Lithe in its maturity, this wine has an old-fashioned sumptuousness without weight. The satin texture carries a ghost of blueberry fruit, then it lasts on cinnamon and red spice. Ready to drink with an aged Manchego. CIV USA, Miami, FL

91             Convento Oreja     $23     2020 Ribera del Duero Roble
Thoroughly Ribera del Duero in its power and austerity, this wine’s floral rose scents shade into blackness, lasting cleanly within a structure that’s both open and intense. There’s a hint of greenness from its time in American and French oak barrels, an edge that will tame grilled meats. Kysela Pere & Fils, Winchester, VA

90             Condado de Haza     $24     2019 Ribera del Duero Crianza
Dried flower scents of violets and rose petals rise off this wine’s meaty, dark tannins, which feel substantial but not aggressive. The tannins are mouth-drying, needing something to tame them and fill them out, like a fatty roast duck with berry compote. Folio Fine Wine Partners, Napa, CA

90             Arnaiz     $13     2018 Ribera del Duero Crianza Pata Negra Tempranillo
A smooth, strawberry-scented tempranillo, this wine’s lean profile takes its light fruit into the savory realm of cocoa-dark tannins. It’s an airy red to serve with Cantonese beef with black mushrooms. CIV USA, Miami, FL

90             Viña Mayor     $26     2018 Ribera del Duero Reserva
This is a powerful wine in transition from the floral notes of its primary fruit. That fruit is bound with its tannins in layers of rose-petal bitterness. Black and tight, this will come into its own with time in a decanter and the company of a steak. USA Wine West, Sausalito, CA

89             Arnaiz     $23     2016 Ribera del Duero Reserva
Earthy-sweet flavors of cranberry preserves meet pepper and eucalyptus scents in this ripe wine, built for a turkey dinner with stuffing and gravy. CIV USA, Miami, FL

89             Bodegas Tamaral     $19     2019 Ribera del Duero Vendimia Seleccionada
Oak grips this wine from the start, while seed tannins and acidity tighten around its scents of rose hips and dried fruits. Cellar it for a year to let the tannins relax. Trapical, San Juan, PR

88             Rolland Galarreta     $20     2018 Ribera del Duero Parcelas en Altura
This wine holds to brightness despite its bold ripeness. Jenna May Cass of Départ Wine in Great Barrington described the scent as “candied plums and overripe garden rose.” There’s a lemony edge to the acidity, placing the wine alongside lamb with lemon. Palmateer Wine Group, San Rafael, CA

88             Vicente Gandía     $20     2020 Ribera del Duero Dolmo Roble Tempranillo
The fruit of this wine is electric blue, a tart tempranillo with bright blueberry and sour-plum flavors. Juicy and refreshing, it’s a red for cookouts. Vicente Gandia USA, Miami, FL

88             Abadia de San Quirce     $18     2020 Ribera del Duero 6 Meses Barrica
A fresh and friendly tempranillo, this offers clean strawberry and blackberry flavors that last. It’s simple and ready for a cookout this summer. USA Wine West, Sausalito, CA

88             Finca Torremilanos     $15     2020 Ribera del Duero Montecastrillo
“This feels like a rustic and honest wine, what a vineyard worker would drink,” said one taster, describing it as a co-ferment of tempranillo with wild blueberries. It’s gentle and bright, and it tastes like fresh, berry-laden Ribera del Duero. Skurnik Wines, NY

87             Arnaiz     $11     2020 Ribera del Duero Roble Pata Negra Tempranillo
Simple, easy, ripe and soft, this overdelivers for its price with a plush texture as its flavors progress from toastiness to dried fruits. Some orange-zest volatility perks it up, for tapas. CIV USA, Miami, FL

86             Arnaiz     $10     2020 Ribera del Duero
A simple tempranillo, earthy and mature for its age, with chocolate and raspberry notes along with some volatility. Ready for a grilled chuck steak. CIV USA, Miami, FL

85             Vina Arnaiz     $9     2020 Ribera del Duero Roble Mayor de Castilla Tempranillo
Gentle and light with raspberry flavors and a creamy texture, this ends with a little bitterness. Pour it with grilled chicken. CIV USA, Miami, FL
97             Bodegas Vega-Sicilia     $825     Ribera del Duero Unico Reserva Especial
A silken beauty, this release of Reserva Especial includes Unico from vintages 2008, 2010 and 2011. It centers around a plump texture, even as the flavors race through layers of complexity laced with fig and blood-orange pith, its fruit edging from purple to black. The structure is firm and fresh, the tannins barely perceptible, like the light of distant stars. The fruit is selected from a north-facing hillside at this historic estate, where the vines, mostly 40 years old, grow in clay-rich margas soils with flecks of crystalized gypsum, the remnants of a limestone plateau. Compelling to drink now, this release of Reserva Especial is a wine that will age and develop for decades. Europvin USA, Van Nuys, CA

96             Pago de los Capellanes     $106     2015 Ribera del Duero Doroteo
Paco Rodero Villa founded this winery based on the vineyards that his father, Doroteo, had tended when he wasn’t serving as a practicante del medico (what we might call a nurse practitioner). This wine comes from a small parcel of 90-year-old vines adjacent to the bodega. The soil at the site is gravel under clay loam, and the tannins feel just as gravelly, their potent extract needing days of air to bring the structure into focus and the delicious fruit to the fore. What is black and concentrated at first develops a sunny, open character, a view into herbs and red cherries that leaven the wine’s overall intensity. This will continue to gain detail and complexity over the next ten years. United Cellars, Medley, FL

96             Bodegas Vega-Sicilia     $620     2012 Ribera del Duero Unico
A dry year in Ribera del Duero did not diminish the epic nature of Unico. There’s a delicate side to this vintage, with floral notes of violets and honey, touches of capsicum spice in the tannins and plenty of bold, luscious fruit to draw your attention. The tannins keep the wine tightly focused without any aggression, even as they may completely dry all the juiciness out of your mouth. It leaves a lasting impression of the textural grace of spicy old-vine tempranillo—a fascinating sensation of refined power, rooted in earthy depths that will reward long aging. Europvin USA, Van Nuys, CA

94             Bodegas Arrocal     $85     2018 Ribera del Duero Reserva de Familia
Rodrigo and Asier Calvo make this wine in Gumiel de Mercado, where the brothers trace their family’s roots past the planting of the 70-year-old bush vines that provide the fruit for this Reserva. While most of the barrels in the cellar are made of French oak, they age this wine in American oak barrels, pointing up a green-olive note in the tannins, but barely making an impression against the succulent beauty and purity of the fruit. It’s dark and supple, with the peppery clarity of a grilled piquillo and some cracked black pepper spice enlivening the youthful flavors of wild blueberries. A traditional take on Ribera del Duero, updated to contemporary tastes. Grapes of Spain, Lorton, VA

94             Bodegas Tamaral     $50     2016 Ribera del Duero Finca La Mira
A classical wine from a parcel of ancient vines, grown at an altitude of over 2,950 feet in Pesquera de Duero, this has youthful charm and lasting power. The mineral-inflected tannins yield dark fruit flavors of Morello cherries, lending the wine an airy, mouthwatering feel, a gracious balance to the firmness of the extract. Structured for aging, this has all the elements in place to develop over the next decade. Trapical, San Juan, PR

94             Emilio Moro     $449     2015 Ribera del Duero Clon de la Familia
Layering fruit complexity from floral red fruits to blueberries and blackberries, this wine offers a bold take on Ribera del Duero, its fruit tannins commanding center stage. Big and robust, its size does not diminish its flavor detail. This top selection from Emilio Moro grows at three parcels in Pesquera de Duero, planted 35 to 45 years ago using a massal selection from Valderramiro, their oldest block, dating to 1924. The wine’s inherent complexity grows out of that selection expressing the soils of the three different blocks—one on clay, one on chalk, one on stones. The fifth release of Clon de la Familia, this is a limited production wine that will reward long cellaring. Emilio Moro USA, Sausalito, CA

94             Arzuaga Navarro     $70     2018 Ribera del Duero Reserva
Focused on vines dating to the 1990s at Arzuaga’s La Planta estate in Quintanilla de Onésimo, this Reserva is fragrant in its scents of roses and seamless in its smooth tannins. Subtle notes of Kalamata olives and orange zest mark the contrast of its depth and brightness. Alcohol peppers the edges, while the wine remains brisk and clean, ready to decant for grilled lamb. United Cellars, Medley, FL

94             Bodegas Vega-Sicilia     $231     2017 Ribera del Duero Valbuena 5
Faced with a challenging vintage early in his tenure as the technical director of Vega Sicilia, Gonzalo Iturriaga chose to go gentle on the grapes. The vines had budded into a warm spring, were hit hard by frost, then struggled to mature their fruit through a dry season. Harvesting early, Iturriaga diminished the percentage of new oak barrels for the first year of aging and moved the wine into wooden casks for the second year, offering what at first appears to be an austere wine. Patience takes this past its earthy notes of salted plum and under-ripe black currant. It remains savory as the tannins soften toward green herb and the flavors open to anise. A wine of depth and textural elegance, this 2017 shows the talent of the vineyard whether you give it hours in a decanter now or cellar it for ten years. Europvin USA, Van Nuys, CA

93             Bodegas Avelino Vegas     $50     2016 Ribera del Duero Aureo
The volume is turned up high on the Morello-cherry richness of this 2016. It’s the fruit of vines averaging 50 years of age, holding fresh against the voluptuous textures the wine developed as it matured in new French oak barrels. Neither heavy nor overt in its alcohol, this wine’s ripeness is wrapped in potent tannins that have the sweet toastiness of pastry crust, supporting all the fruit, lasting with a note of thyme. Decant it for grilled baby lamb chops. Classic Wines, Stamford, CT

93             Bodegas Hnos. Pérez Pascuas     $25     2019 Ribera del Duero Crianza El Pedrosal
Aside from feeling pure and tasting fresh and delicious, there’s dimension to this wine in its weave of spices and notes of fresh cherries and cherry leaves. The acidity and tannins pull back on all the fruit, creating a rich undertow. This is young-vine tempranillo showing off its provenance without ambitions. Think Global, Santa Barbara, CA

93             Tinto Pesquera     $60     2018 Ribera del Duero Reserva
Gentle blue fruit sweetness meets the savory structure of this wine, combining in a seamless texture that makes it compelling to drink. The impression of silk and satin lasts, bringing you back for more of the generous fruit in the middle of the wine. A selection from the Fernández Rivera family’s 495 acres of vines in Pesquera de Duero, growing in sand and pebbles over limestone, this is remarkably accessible now; the wine’s integration will serve it well as it ages. Folio Fine Wine Partners, Napa, CA

93             Pago de los Capellanes     $60     2018 Ribera del Duero Reserva
“The texture is a straight-up sensual pleasure,” said Jenna May Cass of Départ Wines, “as soft as brushed flannel sheets.” There’s freshness to the wine, mitigating its power, brightening the black-cherry flavor and the cool stony richness of the tannins. This is a selection from the Rodero Villa family’s old vines in Pedrosa de Duero, growing in stony, clay-limestone soils for more than 80 years. It developed that textural richness over the course of 14 months in French oak barriques, accessible now and well worth cellaring. United Cellars, Medley, FL

93             Bodegas Hnos. Pérez Pascuas     $350     2015 Ribera del Duero Gran Reserva Gran Seleccion
This is the Pérez Pascuas family’s top selection from its vineyard, from bush vines that have been growing in clay-limestone soils for 80 years or more. Aged for 26 months in American and French oak barrels, then the subsequent years in bottle, it takes hours and days to fully emerge. When first opened, it’s a dense black wine, what Whitney Asher of Brava in Lenox, Mass., described as “ripe with alcohol, but it hangs together, for a steak and six dudes.” As the power of the gravelly tannins begins to relent, the purity of the fruit comes forward, turning the bitterness of those tannins toward savory complexity and perfume. Built for the cellar. Think Global, Santa Barbara, CA

93             Bodegas Hnos. Pérez Pascuas     $105     2015 Ribera del Duero Gran Reserva Vina Pedrosa
From 60-year-old bush vines at Viña Pedrosa, this wine rested the first two years of its life in American and French barrels, then subsequent years in bottle. That aging has taken the tannins to a gentle richness, even as the fruit retains its freshness—luscious blue fruit with the woodland fragrance of blue-foot mushrooms—dark, savory and ready to drink. Think Global, Santa Barbara, CA

93             Arzuaga Navarro     $130     2015 Ribera del Duero Gran Reserva
This tempranillo is plumped up by a small amount of cabernet sauvignon and merlot in the blend, bringing out the wine’s violet perfume, emphasizing a core of ripe plum and pluot fruit. That core is surrounded by the vanillin of new oak barrels, adding heft to the wine and threatening to overshadow the fruit if you open it now. The beautiful Ribera del Duero fruit complexity will grow more prominent with a few years in the cellar, and the wine is built to age for a decade or more. United Cellars, Medley, FL

93             Protos     $40     2019 Ribera del Duero Protos '27
The team at Protos selects this wine from vines more than 50 years old, aging it in new French oak barrels, and dedicating it to the eleven men who founded the bodega in 1927 in Peñafiel, 55 years before the region received its Denominación de Origen. The label may look antique, but the wine itself is bright with plump red fruit under sweet and savory tannic spice. The freshness reads as raspberry and ginger, the wine big, clean and bold, elegant for its size. Monsieur Touton Selection, NY

93             Sei Solo     $56     2018 Ribera del Duero Preludio
This is the second wine of Javier Zaccagnini’s project in La Horra, where he owns four old-vine parcels (over 60 years of age) and leases five more (the oldest is 90+). He ferments it spontaneously, then ages it in used barrels, sustaining, even in this second selection, a direct connection between the taste of the wine and the fresh feeling of the air in the highlands of Ribera del Duero. The tannins have a silken feel and a molten-chocolate richness—though it is not an oak richness, the fruit sleek, saturated and refined. Kysela Pere & Fils, Winchester, VA

93             Territorio Luthier     $78     2018 Ribera del Duero Jesus Madrazo Seleccion
Fernando Ortiz was a sommelier and Cristina Alonso was running wine tours when they partnered in Territorio Luthier in 2009. Jesús Madrazo, who ran the Contino estate in Rioja for close to two decades, joined the team in 2012, with their first vintage. They completed construction on their own bodega, near Aranda de Duero, in time for this 2018 vintage. The wine is a blend of tempranillo with 8 percent garnacha, its generous purple plum fruit lighter than you might expect, reflecting, perhaps, Madrazo’s background in Rioja. There’s a core of freshness surrounded by some arid winter warmth; the tannins feel present, but any sharpness they might show is retracted behind the cushioned padding of the fruit. Structured for roast lamb. Spanish Wine Exclusives, NY

93             Bodegas Vega-Sicilia     $126     2018 Ribera del Duero Alion
Alión got its start as the modern sibling of the traditional Vega-Sicilia wines. Half of the fruit for Alión is estate-grown in Vallodolid, on the relatively flat parcels north of the N-122, and from younger vines, as well as from parcels in Padilla and Pesquera de Duero. The Vega-Sicilia team designed a new winery in Padilla de Duero with enough vats to vinify all the plots separately, completed in time for the 2018 harvest and this latest release. This vintage has more of a classic stubborn Spanish personality than the sleek Alións of the past. It’s young and tough, dense with black tannins that last with a peppery drive. Tightly wound and complete, this will reward patient cellaring. Europvin USA, Van Nuys, CA

92             Bodegas Aster     $23     2016 Ribera del Duero Crianza
The team at La Rioja Alta settled in Anguix when they set out to produce an estate-grown Ribera del Duero. Their 2016 is tannic, as cool and black as a moonless night. Tight and smoky at first, it reveals some spice and fruit ripeness that brings a peachy edge to the dark fruit. Decant it for slow-braised short ribs. Skurnik Wines, NY

92             Dominio de Atauta     $20     2018 Ribera del Duero Torre de Golban Crianza
Jaime Suarez of Dominio de Atauta makes this tart and fresh style of Ribera del Duero at a separate bodega in town. The Crianza is a 50-50 blend of fruit from Soría, in the eastern highlands (the 70- to 80-year-old vines growing in sandy soil), with grapes from Burgos, in the west (from 30-year-old vines growing in clay). It’s a tannic 2018, but those tannins seem to use air to open toward refreshment, allowing fresh boysenberry flavors to show, as well as sanguine notes and briny black-olive complexity. Decant it for grilled lamb. Aviva Vino, NY

92             Bodegas Avelino Vegas     $55     2014 Ribera del Duero F de Fuentespina
This is the top selection of old-vine fruit at Fuentespina, one of the bodegas owned by Avelino Vegas. Its time in French oak barrels lends cocoa richness to the tart black currant flavors, shading into vegetal notes of sunchokes and flowers, then lasting on sweet allspice. Give it time to integrate in the cellar, then serve with braised lamb. —J.G. Classic Wines, Stamford, CT

92             Bela     $19     2020 Ribera del Duero Bela
Bela is CVNE’s project in Ribera del Duero, based on 182 acres of vines in the sand- and clay-loam soils of Villalba and another 22 acres in small parcels in the highlands around Moradillo de Roa (at an altitude of 3,280 feet), where the ground is packed with stones. The wine is dark and satisfying, a black robe of fruit cloaking the gentle tannins. There’s black-currant jam and lingonberry flavor in a completely dry, savory structure, giving the wine an austere impression at first. As it settles in, there’s plenty of room for grilled lamb, or coffee-rubbed barbecue. Arano, Miami, FL

92             Isaac Fernández Selección     $60     2015 Ribera del Duero Reserva
Isaac Fernández Montaña makes this Reserva from the fruit of 80-year-old bush vines, aged in new French oak barrels for two years. That time in oak gives the first impression of a bitter chocolate confection, but then the fruit drives right through it with its own purity and richness. On the edge of decadence, there is enough freshness and structure to hold this all in a savory balance. Delicious with a thick-cut lamb chop. Grapes of Spain, Lorton, VA

92             Resalte de Peñafiel     $28     2019 Ribera del Duero Origen de Resalte
A blend from varied soils at vineyards throughout the region, this wine focuses on brightness and richness. Red fruit and tense, spicy tannins last together in a tightly knit frame. It ages in a combination of French (80 percent) and American oak barrels, one third of them new, providing a little vanillin and a little dill in the background of all the generous fruit. Match the turned-earth notes of its tannins with grilled meats. Toros y Vinos, Medley, FL

92             Valdeviñas     $66     2004 Ribera del Duero Mirat Reserva
This is a project established in Soría in 1999, bringing Georges Pauli, the long-time régisseur and winemaker of Château Gruaud-Larose in Bordeaux, to work with the local technical director of the winery, Emmanuel Ivars Encinas. Mirat grows at vineyards planted in river stones, limestone and sand more than 80 years ago in Langa, in the eastern highlands of Ribera del Duero. This 2004 shows lovely maturity, still holding briskness in its blueberry flavors, the tannic abrasion of rose hips, the perfume of summer raspberries, all carried by racy acidity. It's a distinctive take on the region's wine, well worth decanting and considering with roast leg of lamb. Spanish Wine Exclusives, NY

92             Bodegas Valparaíso     $54     2019 Ribera del Duero Raices de Valaparaiso
This is a selection from three estate vineyards, including fruit from the 15 acres of ancient bush vines surrounding the winery at Quintana del Pidio in Burgos. It ferments in oak casks and ages in new French oak barriques, and while the oak's tannins are present, it's the youthful fruit that makes the primary impression, with its sleek anise and rose scents and dark purple exuberance. Powerful and generous, yet still refreshing, this is a wine to follow as it ages, or to decant a few hours before grilling a steak. M.S. Walker, Somerville, MA

92             Vilano     $29     2019 Ribera del Duero Crianza
A supple textural pleasure, this is the fruit of 25-year-old vines in Pedrosa de Duero, a tight, floral tempranillo with heady pale cherry fruit and black tannins. Those ripe tannins lean into chocolate, lasting on an easy richness. Misa Imports, Dallas, TX

92             Vilano     $68     2019 Ribera del Duero La Baraja
Youthful and cool, this wine shows off a tobacco-rich herbal side, the contribution of 15 percent cabernet sauvignon and 10 percent merlot in the blend. The balance is old-vine tinto fino from the members of this cooperative in Pedrosa de Duero, who farm more than 740 acres. This is a clean, fragrant red with black cherry flavors that last. For a steakhouse. Misa Imports, Dallas, TX

91             Pagos de Anguix     $40     2019 Ribera del Duero Costalara
The Juvé family of Penedes' Juvé y Camps expanded their winegrowing to Anguix, taking on a bodega founded in 2000 in Anguix. They farm 214 acres within 2.5 miles of the winery, half of the parcels organic, the rest in the process of certification. The pago they call Costalara shows its high-altitude ripeness in flavors of sweet black raspberries, a crush of fruit over gravelly tannins. There's an earthy mushroom savor in the end that would tie it to a steak grilled with shiitakes. Vintus, NY

91             Arnaiz     $30     2011 Ribera del Duero Gran Reserva
Lithe in its maturity, this wine has an old-fashioned sumptuousness without weight. The satin texture carries a ghost of blueberry fruit, then it lasts on cinnamon and red spice. Ready to drink with an aged Manchego. CIV USA, Miami, FL

91             Tinto Pesquera     $40     2019 Ribera del Duero Crianza
This wine is crisply tailored, taking its taut line from a tight tannic structure. The fruit has a baked raspberry and bitter chocolate depth, the texture round and lush. Pour it with roast duck. Folio Fine Wine Partners, Napa, CA

91             Pago de los Capellanes     $250     2016 Ribera del Duero El Picon
Ripe and solidly built?“like a tank,” as one taster said?this is the most ambitious release from the Rodero Villa family, packed with blueberry blackness, its near syrupy texture slowly releasing hints of sweet red pepper and flowers. Paco Casas fashions this wine from a 4-acre parcel of old vines in Pedrosa de Duero, aging it for 22 months in French oak barriques, made from staves that cured for five years. For the cellar. United Cellars, Medley, FL

91             La Capilla     $35     2018 Ribera del Duero Crianza
Fresh and clean, this wine presents a range of cherry flavors, from the blush of Rainier to the dark skin of black cherries. Oak tannins support the fruit as it coasts through the finish, lasting with graceful simplicity. It’s a red with enough refinement to pour with fish, like roast swordfish with olives, capers and tomatoes. —J.G. Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL

91             Convento Oreja     $23     2020 Ribera del Duero Roble
Thoroughly Ribera del Duero in its power and austerity, this wine’s floral rose scents shade into blackness, lasting cleanly within a structure that’s both open and intense. There’s a hint of greenness from its time in American and French oak barrels, an edge that will tame grilled meats. Kysela Pere & Fils, Winchester, VA

91             Malcaracter     $25     2020 Ribera del Duero Tempranillo
Cecilia Puebla and Nacho Gutiérrez started this project in 2015 and are hitting their stride with this 2020. They work with fruit from the Burgos town of Gumiel de Mercado, where the altitude reaches 2,750 feet, fermenting it without added yeasts, creating a wine with a cool desert feel to its rose and pomegranate flavors. The bright fruit merges into the darker tones of meaty tannins, to match the char of grilled meats. Copa Fina, San Diego, CA

91             Emilio Moro     $29     2018 Ribera del Duero Tempranillo
There's clarity to this wine's mountain blueberry flavor, one note of fruit that's draped in a dark cloak of tannins. Those tannins drive the finish as the wine opens with air, the power of the structure apparent as you exhale, lasting with earthy berry and savory plum. Emilio Moro USA, Sausalito, CA

91             Emilio Moro     $179     2016 Ribera del Duero Malleous de Sanchomartin Tempranillo
There's freshness and briskness to this wine's dark fruit, what wine buyer Mariko Kobayashi described as “blackcurrants just before they hit ripeness.” Time in new French oak barrels lends the wine a molten chocolate texture and some notes of toasted bread. It's an inky wine with lasting power, sustaining the freshness of limestone soils in Pesquera de Duero, where this parcel was planted in 1944, then grafted to a massal selection of the family's oldest vines in 1964. Emilio Moro USA, Sausalito, CA

91             Virtus     $54     2018 Ribera del Duero Crianza El Sueco
The bay leaf and bergamot scent of this wine caught the attention of Irina Sargisova of Rooftop Reds in Brooklyn. Its black currant fruit adds tartness to that spice, then the wine begins to fill out as it develops with air. This grows at estate parcels surrounding the winery in Aldeayuso, just south of Peñafiel, where the Escribano family planted vines three decades ago, using trellises rather than the tradition of bush vines. W.Direct, Lawrence, KS

90             Arnaiz     $13     2018 Ribera del Duero Crianza Pata Negra Tempranillo
A smooth, strawberry-scented tempranillo, this wine’s lean profile takes its light fruit into the savory realm of cocoa-dark tannins. It’s an airy red to serve with Cantonese beef with black mushrooms. CIV USA, Miami, FL

90             Hornillos Ballesteros     $24     2018 Ribera del Duero Mibal Crianza
Miguel Hornillos and Javier Ballesteros started making wine from their families' vineyards in 2002. Their parcels are focused in Anguix, La Horra and Roa, where their winery is based. Their Mibal bottling is clean and easy to love, with scents of wild blueberries and candied violets, a mix of sweet and savory that lands on the not-too-sweet side. Its iron-rich tannins would meld with a steak seared rare. La Luz Selections, Portland, OR

90             La Capilla     $53     2018 Ribera del Duero Vendimia Seleccionada
Straight-up cherry fruit, just coming into ripeness, meets the chocolate tannins of oak, lasting together in a smooth and powerful finish. There are some high tones of licorice in the end. This is a selection from 160 acres of tempranillo at estate vineyards in Roa, Anguix, La Horra and Fuentecén. Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL

90             Condado de Haza     $24     2019 Ribera del Duero Crianza
Dried flower scents of violets and rose petals rise off this wine’s meaty, dark tannins, which feel substantial but not aggressive. The tannins are mouth-drying, needing something to tame them and fill them out, like a fatty roast duck with berry compote. Folio Fine Wine Partners, Napa, CA

90             Emilio Moro     $49     2018 Ribera del Duero Vendimia Seleccionada
Brisk in the face of its spice and alcohol, this wine transforms the burn of the winter winds in Ribera del Duero into clean and powerful fruit. It's an earthy, dense red for flank steak grilled with a soy and balsamic marinade. Emilio Moro USA, Sausalito, CA

90             Nexus     $23     2019 Ribera del Duero Camino
Camino Pardo's family had been local growers since the 19th century, selling their grapes until she decided to build a winery in 2008. She produces wine from the family's vineyards in Ribera del Duero, Toro and Rueda, including this selection of tempranillo, a black wine perfumed with scents of piquillo peppers and tomatillo. The tannins have a fruit-skin chew, a tangy Ribera with intensity. For grilled pork served alongside charred fruit. Asgram, Miami, FL

90             Abadia de San Quirce     $30     2018 Ribera del Duero Crianza
A rich, blue-black Ribera, this wine's smoky oak combines with herbal notes of rosemary and thyme. Generously ripe, it will settle in with a lamb chop slathered with herbs. USA Wine West, Sausalito, CA

90             Valderiz     $65     2017 Ribera del Duero Juegabolos
All about richness, this wine gives the impression of a dark fruit syrup made from blackberries, blueberries and plums. The oak tannins are smoky and supple, adding to the generous feel of the fruit. A broad-textured red to pour with slow-braised meats. Regal Wine Imports, Moorestown, NJ

90             Bodegas Valduero     $30     2019 Ribera del Duero En 2 Maderas
This wine gains its concentrated black raspberry and sour cherry flavors from a selection of tempranillo grown at altitudes above 2,600 feet. The fruit is rosy, combining with heady tannins in the wine's lean power. This will benefit from a year or two in the cellar. Vinaio, NY

90             Viña Mayor     $26     2018 Ribera del Duero Reserva
This is a powerful wine in transition from the floral notes of its primary fruit. That fruit is bound with its tannins in layers of rose-petal bitterness. Black and tight, this will come into its own with time in a decanter and the company of a steak. USA Wine West, Sausalito, CA

Joshua Greene is the editor and publisher of Wine & Spirits magazine.

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