There is something terribly seductive about a rich, layered young Tempranillo. I truly began to appreciate the variety when I visited Spain for three weeks in the late 1980s. Among my assignments was a feature on how vintner Alejandro Fernandez, founder of Pesquera, was helping revitalize the Ribera del Duero area with a new approach to winemaking, resulting in fresher, lively, fruitier renditions of Tempranillo than those of the past.
Another Ribera del Duero wine featured at a great tasting moment I had recently, in Las Vegas, where a few of our editors met after the Grand Tour tasting to dine at Julian Serrano’s new tapas and paella bar at Aria. Sommelier Desmond Echevvarie made the wine selections for us, ranging from a La Bota de Manzanilla Sherry to a mouthwatering 2007 Paco & Lola Albariño from Rias Baixas.
But my favorite of the night was the Aalto Ribera del Duero 2005. And we had all had plenty of wine that night, spitting at the tasting, but drinking with Serrano’s festive five-course meal. The Aalto is dark-hued, firm, rich and layered, with aromas of mocha, plum and cedar. It kept getting better with every sip, ending with a delightful black licorice edge. 96 points, non-blind.
WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for more Top Values among Spanish reds.
• Plus, learn more about Ribera del Duero and Aalto in this article.