The wines of the Ribera del Duero region of Spain are relative newcomers to the Spanish wine scene, but they have quickly established a reputation for excellence. When Ribera del Duero was granted its DO in 1982 there were only nine bodegas operating there, but today it has over 170 wineries and over 18,000 ha of vines and is home to revered names such as Pingus, Vega Sicilia, Pesquera and Condado de Haza.
The Ribera del Duero region is situated high up in altitude which means they have hot days and cool nights. This is an ideal microclimate in that the grapes get plenty of sunshine and warmth to ripen fully, but the cool nights keep the grapes from getting overripe which would lead to flabby, jammy wines.
Tempranillo is the truly majestic grape of this region (as it is in Rioja) but here the wines have more structure and depth. The wines are delicious and fruity when young, but also have the capacity to age extremely well hence the Gran Reserva status some of them achieve.
Biberius is a rather imperial sounding name for a wine, indeed that seems most appropriate given the quality of the Ribera del Duero wines. The wine in this instance is named after Roman emperor Tiberius Claudius Nero who was nicknamed Biberius Caldius Mero meaning ‘drinker of wine with no water added’ due to his somewhat voracious appetite for wine. His behaviour was less than virtuous to say the least and it is rumoured that he was given Venetian soup (ie poison) to get rid of him and was so widely hated that the Romans rejoiced when the news broke of his death.
No such ignominy for this wine though, in fact quite the opposite. Jane MacQuitty picked it as one of her top 5 red wines for the summer under £10 “This fantastic, fat, oaky, 14% alc, intensly fruity tempranillo from the mighty Ribera del Duero, is a Spanish gem. It is a polished tempranillo named after a wine-loving Roman emporer, dubbed Biberius. Beef Carpaccio served with this classy, complex, full-frontal red that is thick with fruit and seasoned with mocha spices would make a simple yet swanky summer treat.” (Jane MacQuitty, Times, 28 July 2012).