Food & Drink

May 31, 2012

Discovering Ribera del Duero and Jerez de la Frontera with Emilio Guerra

Today’s post is from our guest wine contributor Emilio Guerra, who is the Regional Manager for Dreyfus Ashby & Co., purveyors of fine wines. Click here to read Emilio’s previous article on South Florida Food and Wine.

As we continue on our trip through Spain’s most famous wine regions we come upon the vineyards of Ribera del Duero. This area lies about 170 miles southwest of Rioja with the town of Valladolid as its center. From there you can easily plan day-trips to the city of Burgos where El Cid is buried and to Peñafiel where there is a medieval castle containing a must see wine museum.

Map of Ribera del Duero photo credit: sorianos.org

Once again we find that a river (the River Duero) runs through or near the vineyards exerting influence on the evolution of the local variant of the Tempranillo grape. The red wines of Ribera del Duero tend to be more powerful that those of Rioja providing more fruit and higher alcohol. It is only in the last twenty-five years, thanks to the efforts of Alejandro Fernandez of Pesquera fame that the region has earned attention and today some of the worlds most expensive and sought after wines are made here. Vega Sicilia’s Unico, a wine that can last for decades and Dominio de Pingus, which sells for $500 a bottle, are prime examples. Some exceptional wines at the Crianza level are Pago de los Capellanes, Alion and the value priced Torres Celeste Blue. At the Reserva level you get additional oak aging but also mature red fruit flavors; try a bottle of Protos, Arzuaga or Perez Pascuas. Some producers have been adding Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah to their wines to create “Super-Spanish” blends that are powerful and delicious; look for Bodegas Mauro & Pago de Carraovejas. The typical  Ribera del Duero is best when matched with grilled lamb or roast pork. Good recent vintages: 2004-05, 2008-09.

Pago-de-Carraovejas-Crianza-2008-Ribera-del-Duero

Instead of heating up the kitchen and roasting an entire leg of lamb this quick and easy Mediterranean Flatbread recipe from our Blogger-Pal FOODalogue.com works perfectly as a tapas style dish paired with wines from Ribera del Duero.  (Ask your butcher to cut up lamb pieces for you.) Click here for the recipe from Foodalogue.com

Mediterranean Flatbread, photo credit: FOODalogue.com

Moving southwest to the very tip of Spain and we arrive at Jerez de la Frontera or Sherry country. In 1492 Columbus sailed from a nearby port and took some Sherry with him to drink along the way and by the late 1500’s the English were drinking it on a daily basis.

Palomino Grape: photo credit: google images

The main grape used to make Sherry is the Palomino, a grape that when grown in the white, chalky soil of the region produces aromatic wines of great complexity. Sherry is a fortified wine that can be very dry as in the case of the Fino or Manzanilla styles (best when served cold as an aperitif or with olives & serrano ham) but with additional oak aging can turn sweeter and gain in body as in the Amontillado or Oloroso styles (best with strong cheeses). The sweet style is made with the Moscatel grape or the Pedro Ximenez (PX) grape and can last for decades. These dessert wines are best enjoyed with blue cheese or just pour some over vanilla ice cream.

blue cheese trio, delish.com

The best producers are Emilio Lustau, Gonzalez-Byass and Osborne. This area is also famous for its Brandy de Jerez and here you will find some of the best Gran Reservas (10 year old brandy) made in Spain, such as Cardenal Mendoza and Gran Duque d’Alba. In my opinion, Spanish Brandy is smoother than Cognac and all you need to enjoy it is a fine cigar. © 2012 TasteduVin

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