Trade Show #2 – Drink Ribera Boston Workshop

Second in a series.

This trade show had a slogan –

Drink Ribera, Drink Spain

and entitling the show a workshop emphasized the educational component. Additionally, the Drink Ribera Boston Workshop was held at Jonathon Alsop’s Boston Wine School, further highlighting the educational aspect of this event. Spanish food and wine have come to prominence thanks to the notoriety then fame of the molecular gastronauts and the American embrace of small plate dining, i.e. tapas. Ribera del Duero, the full name of the Denominación de Origen, was a sleepy region with just nine wineries when the D.O. was created in 1982. Today, there are close to three hundred. With the ever-expanding wine market, once unremarkable regions are amping up both production and quality to compete with more illustrious regions, in the case of Ribera, Rioja. The grape in both regions is the indigenous Temparnillo. And if this workshop is any indication, the wines of Ribera easily compete with those of Rioja.

The workshop consisted of a guided tasting seminar led by David Singer, sommelier and Certified Wine Educator, followed by a walk-around tasting. Mr. Singer presented the six wines in a concise manner, noting that in the last five years, the quality of the wines from Ribera has improved. One of the challenges of vinifying Tempranillo is taming the grapes tannins. This is usually accomplished by ageing in oak barrels, either French oak or American oak for which Spanish winemakers have a marked fondness. What struck me most about the wines we tasted through was the deft use of oak. Used inexpertly, I feel like I’m chewing on an oak floor as the lining of my mouth shrivels up. All six wines were between 13 and 15% alcohol due to the warm daytime tempuratures in Ribera, but none were “hot” or jammy, the cool night-time temperatures ensure an even ripening of fruit. Prices ranged from $15 to $50, though the most expensive wine was not the stand-out of the tasting. Most exhibited a fruit-forward international or modern style. The crowd favorite was the ’06 Trus Reserva from Bodegas Trus at a suggested retail price of $45. After 24 months in French oak, the wine was beautifully integrated. Yet for all the modernity, the dark horse of the tasting was a wine decidedly more restrained and traditional than all the others, the ’09 Tinto Pesquera, the winery’s entry level wine.

After the seminar, time for the walk-around tasting. Fifteen wineries were pouring; of these, seven had American importers, eight were looking for such. In addition, thirty six wineries were included in the “wine bar” – a display of wineries also seeking importers. At the walk-around, Trus Bodega – so impressive in the seminar – was represented by three wines each representing three of the quality designations used in Ribera – Consecha or Joven, Crianza and Riserva. In addition to the Riserva tasted in the seminar, the ’11 Tramuz,  a Joven, and the ’10 Trus Crianza were excellent. Another favorite of mine was the ’09 Condado de Haza, an outstanding value wine, made by the wine maker of Tinto Pesquera, seminar runner-up, Alejandro Fernández, himself a pioneer in helping Ribera del Duero gain recognition and reputation.

To complete the event, Chef Deborah Hansen of Taberna de Haro, provided a selection of tapas – tortilla with roasted red pepper, house-made paté, assorted Iberian cheeses and charcuterie. Chef Hansen was also slicing paper-thin slices from an entire jamon for our enjoyment. Kudos to both her and her staff!

More info about Ribera del Duero at

The Boston Wine School is located at 1354 Comm. Ave., Allston, MA


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