Ribera Del Duero is the secret to being cool. Proof? The next time you find yourself at a fine dining establishment, request one with a touch of Javier Bardem’s accent [“I’d like a ree-bare-ah dell dw-air-oh, please”] and the sommelier will raise their eyebrow and instantly think you’re the coolest customer in the restaurant. For now, wine from this smallish region in northern Spain, which was only declared an official viticultural area as of 1982, is an obscurity but to the most cunning wine aficionado—however, it’s time for everyone to become a cunning aficionado. Tempranillo [temp-rah-nee-yo] is the prime grape in this part of the world, and something about the diverse mix of Ribera Del Duero soil, the very high elevation and accompanying volatile elements make for an incredibly expressive, complex and robust Tempranillo wine. These are some of the most distinctive reds in the world—and greatness can be found in every price range.
A great place to start on one’s RDD journey is the EMILIO MORO Malleolus. Finding a balance between elegance and power, you can taste family-driven Spanish tradition and authenticity. And its versatility makes it a must on restaurant wine menus. From, hands-down, one of the greatest producers in Ribera, pricewise this comes right in the middle of the range, and this wine can be used as a median to compare pricier renditions or those that are value priced. The journey of discovering Ribera Del Duero is easily one of the great wine journeys—the rewards you reap are comparable to those you experience on the path to Bordeaux, Burgundy or Northern California Cabernet. But the road to Ribera is the road less traveled. The signposts on this particular journey are more hidden and obscured, the path more rugged. Now, that’s very cool. –J.M.
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