These wines hail from the northern, central portion of Spain and are composed exclusively of Tempranillo grapes. Yet, like many varietals and regions, Ribera del Duero comprises a huge range of wine styles — though all are surprisingly light in alcohol (under 14%). Here’s how three vintages of RdD stack up.
2007 Bodegas y Vinedos Neo Vivir, Vivir – To live, to live! Vinedos Neo’s Ribera is a young, funky, and a bit skunky wine that exudes barnyard tones. Meaty and medium-bodied, it has a sharp finish that doesn’t help matters. Not my favorite of this batch. C- / $10
2003 Penafiel Ribera del Duero Miros de Ribera Reserva – Straightforward, spicy, and racy, a big food wine with a lush, lustrous body. It has an edge to it, which gives it a bit of a tough finish, but the big bramble, stone, and dark plum fruit flavors, it’s worth the journey. B+ / $25 (est.)
2003 Valdubon Crianza Ribero del Duero (pictured) – Valdubon shows how big Tempranillo can get, with this inky, licorice-inflected wine that recalls Italy’s Amarone wine. Silky, with a lasting finish, there’s a tart cherry body, notes of menthol, and cedar. A fun wine, tastes like it’s an alcohol bomb but actually pulls just 13.5%. A bargain. A- / $20