Pedro Ballesteros –Máster of Wine- recommends Pérez Pascuas Gran Selección 2012, a wine to try to understand Ribera del Duero.
In the past Ribera del Duero, used to produce a large variety of wine styles. But the región first found international recognition with one particular style: Tempranillo-based blends, concentrated and age in oak.
The commercial success of these wines soon attracted both investment and expertise to the area. Studies resulted in more intimate knowledge of the different terriors, with vineyards ranging in altitude from 720 to 1.100 m and diverse soils of clayed sand alternating with layers of limestone and calcareous rock.
Along with the development of more refined markets , these developments encouraged diversification among premium producers. The process is still at an early stage, but it is clear that the huge diversity of terroirs in Ribera del Duero must result in diversity of wines.
While the region’s classic icons are here to stay, winemakers would be foolish not to explore the quality potential of different terroirs, which are ideals for producing other styles. With that in mind, the 10 wines selected by Pedro Ballesteros, on top of being very good, also represent some of the main trends in Ribera.
First the classic style, represented by Pérez Pascuas; a wine released more than five years after harvest and made for the long run. Those wines are a unique Ribera’s asset.
Next, the viñadores, small vine-growers that have become winemakers, bound to create a new category in the region.
The third trend sees renowed wineries from other parts of Spain-mainly Rioja, but also Catalonia, Andalusia and others regions – making heavy investments in Ribera. They aim to put their Ribera offer at the high-end of their ranges.
The forth trend is zonificación, with village wines and single-vineyard wines . Indefectibly made from old vines in small plots, they will create an image reference, although made in minute quantities and with consequently high prices.
The fifth trend, Vinos de autor, blends of top wines from selected vineyards, with luxury winemaking. Sometimes impressive, most often top quality.
However, not everybody can afford a top Ribera del Duero, so very good affordable Ribera wines are included in this category . Entry-level wines with no shortcuts to quality.
“Classic Gran Reserva from Pedrosa, a benchmark for this style of wines, which has already demonstrated how well and slowly they age in bottle. Restrained, with dry fruits, toasty notes,spice, cedar, some leather and forest fruit aromas. Subtle and harmonious palate, with magic balance and a very velvety texture. This is a wine to feel rather than to taste. It is not about aromas but about the sense of touch and the sensorial memory that the wine leaves behind. One of those distinctive top Ribera, made to get better during the next decades. Ribera cannot be understood if this wine is not tasted” Pedro Ballesteros said.