Monday, April 2, 2012

Drink Ribera - Guild of Sommeliers tasting at Miami Culinary Institute

I recently penned a post on the Ribera del Duero wine region as a frame for a then-upcoming Drink Ribera - Guild of Sommeliers Tasting which was to be held at the Maimi Culinary Institute on March 26th, 2012.  The event was held as scheduled but, due to illness, Eric Hemer, the MS tapped to lead the event on behalf of the Guild, was replaced by Juan Gomez MS of the Breakers Palm Beach.  This post examines the wines presented at the tasting.

This tasting was held at the Miami Culinary Institute, about a 45-minute drive south of Morton's, the site of the two previous South Florida Guild tastings (Typicity of Bordeaux and The Real Deal in Chile) that I have attended.


The tasting was held on the building's third floor, in a purpose-built culinary teaching room with abbreviated auditorium seating and a kitchen setting complete with stainless steel sinks, ovens, and stoves.

We were welcomed to the event by Jenny Benzie, Drink Ribera South Florida Brand Manager who then introduced April Cullom, Drink Ribera US Brand Manager and Juan Gomez.  After her own words of welcome, April delivered a presentation on the Ribera Del Duero wine region. And then it was time for the actual tasting.

The lineup of wines is shown below.  On entering the room, we had each been given a glass of rosé (which turned out to be the first wine of the tasting).  At each attendee position there were seven glasses, each containing a sample of the wines to be tasted.  The tasting protocol was as follows: April introduced the wine; Juan would then lead us through the actual tasting and a discussion of food-pairing options; and then the mic would be turned over to April for introduction of the next wine.

The first wine tasted was the aforementioned rosé, a 2010 PradoRey Rosado from Real Sitio de Ventosilla S.A. The winery, which was founded in 1989, sits on a 520 ha property which is subdivided into estates which are, in turn, subdivided into plots, each of which is planted with a different clone of Tinta Fina.  The estates' vines are espalier-trained and drip irrigated and are 90% Tempranillo, with the remaining 10% being divided between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

The 2010 PradoRey Rosado is 50% Tinta Fina and 50% Merlot.  The wine has a pale strawberry color and hints of honeysuckle, berries, fresh red fruit and petrol on the nose.  On the palate the wine has medium+ acidity, berries, strawberries, red plum, and a slight hint of tannin and exhibits tight integration between acidity, fruit, and alcohol.  Some of the pairing options proferred were chicken alfredo, fish (especially salmon), tapas, and cheese (manchego).

The second wine tasted was the 2010 Avaniel from Bodegas y Viñedos Monteabellón S.L.  This establishment was founded in 2000 on a 52-ha property with the express intent of producing high-quality wines which combined the best of old world traditions and modern techniques.  The estate's three soil types are utilized to full advantage in the production of its wines: the youngest vines are planted on plots closest to the river; the plots on soil that is a mixture of sand, clay, and limestone are on higher ground and are well suited to oak-aged wines; and the highest plots are stony with high limestone content and its grapes yield long, oak-aged wines.

The grapes for the Avaniel are from a plot called "Los Miles" where the vines range between 6 and 10 years old.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo and has aromas of violets, plums, black olives, licorice, and chocolate.  On the palate medium acidity and tannin, plums, ripe strawberries and a certain savory character.  It was felt that this wine would pair well with a Serrano Ham.

The Monte Castrillo Roble 2009  from Bodegas Peñalba Lopez was the third wine tasted in the series.  Grapes for this wine are grown on the Torremilanos Estate, a property acquired by Peñalba Lopez in 1975 and where winemaking has been ongoing since 1903.  According to April, this estate is focusing on sustainability.

This wine is 100% Tempranillo and has been aged for 7 months.  This wine has a dustiness on the nose in addition to hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, white pepper, and ripe fruit.  On the palate cherries, plums, medium+ tannin, and a spiciness.  The spiciness will allow this wine to go well with a curry dish.

The next wine in the lineup was the 2008 Emilio Moro from Bodegas Emilio Moro S.L.  Bodegas Emilio Moro, currently one of "... the DOs benchmarks ...", has a history stretching back more than 120 years to the father of the founder Don Emilio Moro. Drawing on his father's philosophy and practices, Don Emilio founded the winery, which would bear his name, based on the principle "To make good wine, to make the best wine or not be involved." Ownership of the winery continues in the family to this day.  The winery, located at 1950 feet up on the banks of the Duero River, is unique in that its vineyards are planted with some of the purest Tinto Fino clones available, drawn from vines originally owned by Don Emiliano's father. In an effort to ensure that the individuality of the terroir is manifested in every instance of its wine, natural fermentation is practiced.

The grapes were sourced from vineyards that are between 15 and 25 years old and the wine was aged for 12 months in 50% American oak and 50% French oak.  The wine exhibits aromas of baking spices, pale red fruit with medium+ tannin and medium acidity.  A slight drying on the palate.  This wine would go well with a roast lamb, suckling pig, and cured sheep's milk cheese.

The 2008 Matarromera Crianza from Bodegas Matarromera is made from grapes grown in a south-facing vineyard called Pago de San Román that sits at 2788 feet altitude.  The wine is 100% Tempranillo and spent 14 months in French and American oak barrels and 10 months in bottle after fermentation in stainless steel tanks.

On the nose jalapeños, violets, rose petals, dark ripe fruits, mushrooms, oak.  On the palate molasses and oil.  Balanced.  Would pair well with a skirt steak or lamb chop.

Bodegas Vizcarra's JC 2008 was the next wine tasted.  The estate is a 35-ha property whose old vines are both bush- and wire-trained and where organic farming is practiced.  The winery is a proponent of gravity flow, a practice which it fully implemented in 2007.

The wine is 100% Tempranillo which has been aged for 15 months in 50% French and 50% American oak.  Bright fruit, spiciness, dill, almonds, nutmeg, sour cherries, cassis, and raspberries on the nose.  Ripe fruit and medium tannin and acidity on the palate.  This wine would pair well with a paella and pizza.

Bodegas y Vinedos Ortega Fournier, producer of the 2004 O. Fournier, is a 105 ha property sitting at elevations between 2300 and 2600 feet, said location providing an 18-degree temperature differential from daytime to nighttime and the associated benefits for the grapes and wine.  The winery, originally built in 1979, was known as Bodegas Hnos. San Juan before being bought by the current owners in 2002.  Grapes are harvested manually and fermented in stainless steel, cement, or French oak vats.

The 2004 O. Fournier is 100% Tempranillo and was fermented in stainless steel tanks before spending 18 months in new oak barrels, of which 80% were French.  The wine is unfiltered.  On the nose spice, vanilla, clove, green bark, sandalwood, lavender, dried fruits.  On the palate sweet ripe fruits, pumpkin, raspberries, cranberries, and plum.  This wine would pair well with a sun-dried tomato risotto, short ribs, or grilled portobello mushrooms.

The Pesquera Reserva 2008 by Alejandro Fernandez - Tinto Pesquera was grown on a 200 ha estate where some of the vines reside on gravel terraces while others lie on high table land.  All vineyards are Tempranillo with vines ranging in age from 15 to 30 years old.  The harvested grapes are fermented with natural yeasts at 22-27℃ with twice daily pump overs for maintenance of skin contact.  The wines are stored in stainless steel tanks for 20 days post-fermentation after which they are transferred to oak barrels.

The 2008 edition of this wine was subjected to whole berry fermentation and then pressed after a 2-3 week maceration.  After pressing the wine is poured (without clarification) into a combination of American, Spanish, and French oak barrels.  The wine was stored for 24 months in American oak and  racked frequently during this period.  Bottle aging extended for 12 months after the residence in oak.  On the nose a smokiness, coconut oil, dill, cranberries, strawberries, and plum.  The wine is somewhat muted by the oak.  A softer edge, very spicy, with coconut oil on the finish.  Medium+ acidity and tannins.  Balanced and complex with a long finish.  Would pair well with crostini with goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, prime rib with herbs and garlic, pork chop, squab, duck, and rabbit.

The final wine in the lineup was the 2004 Protos Gran Reserva from Protos B. Ribera Duero De Peñafiel.  Founded in 1927 by a group of area growers, Protos owns 100 ha of vines but has access to another 500 ha of vines owned by associates as well as another 300 ha of vines owned by non-associate growers who have become regular suppliers to the organization.  

The 2004 Protos Gran Reserva was sourced form 60-year-old vines and was aged in oak for 24 months. On the nose violets, lavender, mushrooms, olives, soy, balsamic, truffles.  On the palate dry, dark fruits, dried herbs, dried cranberries, medium+ tannin and acidity, and high alcohol.  This wine would go well with a wagyu filet, lamb, Ossobucco, stewed meats, and a petite filet.


Overall the wines presented very well.  The younger wines were characterized by ripe red fruits (plums, cherries, strawberries), medium to medium+ tannin and acidity and a pepperiness.  The older wines were characterized by dried fruits along with baking spices and pepper.  These wines cry out for food.

The previous tastings had multiple MSs in attendance and their interplay and interaction added both to the breadth and depth of the event as well as to the information and teachings disseminated to the attendees.  Master Gomez did a yeoman job but the event would have been even richer with another MS along.

There was one small downside to the new location.  The large circular tables that furnished the Morton's tasting room for the prior Guild tastings in South Florida provided the opportunity to interact with fellow attendees in a meaningful way.  The culinary-classroom setting of the Miami Culinary Institute gave us a clear view of the presenters but this came at the sacrifice of the much treasured attendee interaction; the opportunity for in-tasting interaction was limited to those on either side of you.

© Wine -- The View From Orlando

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