Tonight we return to Spain for the second in the series that will lead up to my trip in March. Last week, when we last left our intrepid taster (that would be me) we were in Rioja. Tonight we're in Ribera del Duero which as best as I can tell is just to the west of Rioja.
Ribera is similar, although it seems that the altitudes at which the grapes are grown is higher that those of Rioja. This difference has apparently led to a slightly different grape, that while similar to Rioja's Tempranillo is different. Ribera grows the Tinto del Pais, which is a thinner skinned grape and slightly more acidic; or at least that is what these guys say. Frankly, this sounds a little like product line differentiation, which I can appreciate from an MBA point of view, but I will test from a wine drinker point of view.
As the great man once said, "trust but verify". So let's get down to verifyin' shall we! (Another man once said, "verify early and often". That was me about 30 seconds ago)
Ok, popped the cork, and my first impression is that the wine is not as fruity as last week's initially was. Remember how I popped the cork on the Rioja and the scent of fruit filled the room? Not so tonight. Instead there is a subtle fruit scent in the glass, some earth and a bit of chocolate. There is a little spice too.
Now for the intial taste. Hmm, not bad, but nothing really notable either. Still there is a lingering in the mouth that is very pleasant. Perhaps some hope for this one? Second sip, same impression. It's a good, very drinkable wine, but not particularly notable. Let's let it rest a bit.
Oh, I almost forgot the details. Tonight's wine is a Vina Sastre Crianza 2001. The Crianza is one of three types of wines produced in the region with the others being the Reserva and the Gran Reserva. This Crianza is aged in new American Oak for 12 months, and then spends another 12 in the bottle prior to release. This is less than the Reserva and the Gran.
Ok, I must say that the flavors in my mouth, not having had a sip in about 5 minutes are still lingering. I'm getting a little blueberry, and a little menthol and tobacco smoke. Weird huh? Somehow, this flavor is very clean and refreshing. Call me nuts but there is some grilled meat flavor here as well. Lets try another sip.
The nose has relaxed and is talking a little more of the smoke that I smelled in last week's tempranillo. I gotta tell ya folks, I don't see a whole lot of difference between these two grapes. A difference in the wines? Yes, but clearly the grapes are very related if not the same.
Man, that mouth is still going strong. This is not a complex wine. Last week's, which was a Gran was much more structured. This week's wine is good and very drinkable, but not as artfully crafted. Interestingly they both cost $25. I better get back to Sam's and pick up the rest of the other wine!
If i were pricing this baby, I'd pay 15, American, so I suppose this one is over priced in my view. It is so drinkable though, who cares? Lets have another glass.
I just found this site. Very interesting background on the Sastre family. If you scroll down you'll find they're thoughts on this wine. They give it 90 points......this is crazy talk. While I steadfastly refuse to give a numerical rating, this is not a 90 caliber wine in my view; perhaps it's a case of reputation extending down into a respected vinter's lower line offerings?
As Tom said in last week's comments, the Tempranillo is clearly one of the world's under rated varietals. Two wines in two weeks, and I find both more than acceptable. I'm looking forward to next week's session!