Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Early Bird

          While LC is back doing research in the Midwest, Mk had the opportunity to attend a Friday session at the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival this year and so dutifully to work she went.  The event was called Ribera De Duero- Region on the Rise.  This region is in Spain’s northern plateau about 90 minutes north of Madrid and produces primarily a black grape called Tempranillo. 
        Wine making has been going on in Ribera for over 2000 years dating back to the Romans.  All four speakers at the session, including home grown celeb Alpana Singh, talked about the use of old vines which produce fewer grapes, but where the concentration of the fruit is “noble.”  By blending these noble grapes with fruit from younger vines that produce more and earlier ripening grapes, a terrific marriage is made. 
       Tempranillo comes from the word temprano which means “early” in Spanish and it ripens several weeks earlier than other red grapes.  According to the experts, the flavor of Tempranillo is a cross between Chianti and Pinot Noir yet the structure is comparable to a Cabernet.
There were 10 wines to try, all from different family-owned wineries, all with unique names, categories, and vintages.  (So much to learn in one sitting).  About the categories, just know that Spain and some other European countries have stringent rules about aging wine before release.
        The three wines friend HD and I especially liked turned out to be the non-expensive ones.  The first one was called Bodegas Cepa 21, S.A  Hito 2009.  It is only $13 a bottle and quite flavorful yet smooth.  The next was Conenge Bodegas y Vinedos, SA  Comenge 2006.  At $24 a bottle it seems like very good value.   Lastly, we enjoyed Seleccion de Torres, S.L. Celeste 2008 which was deep, vibrant and fresh.   
        One nice feature about Tempranillo is that it is drinkable with or without food unlike some big red wines that have so much structure you’re craving a steak immediately.
        Where to get these wines was our next question.  The speakers threw out their solutions which are to go to websites like or  Also they suggested going to your local wine and cheese specialty shop like our own Cheese Shop in the Carmel Plaza.  Local restaurant Passionfish in Pacific Grove also carries some and Mundaka carries two wines from Ribera del Duero...and many other Tempranillos from Rioja. 
        This workshop was informative, well presented and I for one would be excited to visit this region in Spain or simply have another glass of Tempranillo from Ribera.

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