North of Madrid and east of Vallodolid is where you will find the Ribera del Duero appellation. This vineyard land is high in altitude (around 2,000 feet), with hot summer days but chilly nights and cold winters. The river Duero flows west from here into Portugal where it is known as the Douro, port grape growing territory.
The Ribera del Duero is a relative newcomer to the wine scene. The DO was first formed in 1982 and since then has been steadily gaining favour and reputation in the wine world. The first to put this area on the map was Vega Sicilia, Spain’s most prestigious wine estate. But the man who really transformed the fortunes of the area was Alejandro Fernandez of Bodegas Pesquera. The local farmers may have thought he was barmy but his hunch that the Tempranillo grape would flourish here proved to be inspired. His wines soon gathered quite a following and are exported, admired and enjoyed the world over.
Because of the cool nights of the Ribera del Duero, the ripening process actually slows down every night which extends the ripening period. The grapes then accumulate lots of colour and flavour without becoming overripe and jammy. The wines are correspondingly full flavoured and full bodied and concentrated.
Carmelo Rodero is the 4th generation of grape growers and winemakers and was born and bred in this region. His grandparents founded the local co-operative winemaking facility and his own career began in the vineyards, tending the family vines and selling the fruit to Vega Sicilia for 14 years. With the knowledge that great wine begins in the vineyard, he took the brave step of going out on his own in 1990 and started making wine from his own estate fruit. He has been winning fans and awards ever since. His daughter Beatriz has followed in her father’s footsteps and is now at the helm of winemaking at the estate.
The wines are made entirely from fruit grown on their own land so they have complete control of the process from beginning to end. The work begins in the vineyards which are very closely and carefully managed without unnecessary artificial treatments. The grapes are all harvested by hand, selected in the vineyards and then again in the winery which is fully kitted out with state of the art equipment which allows them to treat the fruit very gently and precisely. All the plots are harvested and fermented separately and each parcel receives the winemaking techniques and oak maturation best suited to its unique character.
The baby of the family made from the youngest Tempranillo vines. The wine is destemmed and fermented in stainless steel vats before being transferred for 9 months to mostly French oak (a small proportion in American oak) barrels. The wine displays intense floral aromas, wild red fruits and then some vanilla and creamy notes.
A blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon for extra structure and depth this wine is matured for a longer period of time (15 months) in oak barrels which are again mostly French with a small proportion being American. This wine is more intense, with a meaty, full bodied palate and mouthfeel whilst remaining fresh and elegant on the finish. Drinking very well now but will mellow and soften with age.
A blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon from older vines (30+ years) and aged for 20 months in French oak barrels and then a further 2 years in bottle before release. This top quality fruit and longer oak treatment have plenty of time to marry and harmonise meaning the wine in the glass is smooth, complex and very well integrated.
100% Tempranillo sourced entirely from this Valtarrena vineyard which is considered to yield the best quality fruit of their estate. The vines are 45-55 years old and they keep yields very low to maximise concentration of flavours. The wine is fermented in stainless steel then transferred to (mostly French) oak barrels where it is aged for 2 years. This is a powerful wine with deep colour, rich black berry fruit and hints of toffee, tobacco and minerals. Powerful yet silky smooth with the potential for further ageing.