Wine Talk

Snooth User: VegasOenophile

A question for those in the know...

Posted by VegasOenophile, Mar 5, 2010.

I found a Vina Pedrosa Ribera Del Duero Tinta 1995.  It was about $25 which according to Snooth, seems like a good price.  Will this wine have stood up this long?  Will it be worth trying?


Reply by GregT, Mar 6, 2010.

Does it say crianza or something like that on the bottle?  Perhaps on the back? 

It's a good bodega. They were selling to the large co-ops but they decided to make their own wine and it's usually good.  Plus, that was a great year in RdD.  If it was stored well, it could be pretty good.  I don't know their lineup from then all that intimately, but the Pope selected their wine for his Christmas mass and supper in 1997, so it meets a higher standard!

Reply by zufrieden, Mar 6, 2010.

These wines should last 15 years or more from everything I have heard. I can't speak from a lot of experience because every year that goes by limits my wine-aging.  Couple that with a certain impatience, and, well, you don't have many wines aging longer than 8-10 years.  However, I did have a wine from this region a couple of years back and it was 12 years old; a Haza 1996.  This wine was very good and could have aged a few years more, so I have no hesitation in saying that the '95 should still be sound and even prime.  

My advice? Try it.  The price seems right.

Reply by GregT, Mar 6, 2010.

Zu - it's one of my favorite areas and you had "A WINE" from this region - and a few years back?????!!!!!!!

You need to come out to NY.

The 1995 vintage was outstanding in the area.  And the bodega is a good bodega.  If it's a crianza or reserva and stored well, the wine should be very good

Your Condado de Haza from 1996 is very different but also was a really good wine.  One of the iconic wines from Ribera del Duero.

Reply by zufrieden, Mar 7, 2010.

Yes, I agree that the region produces very good wine and this is being reflected in a rise in price over the last decade.  Perhaps I should get out more since the wine region we are discussing here is a bit under the radar in my neck of the woods - but shouldn't be.

Thanks for the tips; I will see if there are few hidden treasures like Vina Pedrosa 1995 (or similarly good bodegas) still hanging about in obscure corners of my local liquor merchant.



Reply by GregT, Mar 7, 2010.

Here are some suggestions.

Vega Sicilia is probably the most famous wine from the area – the Unico is as good as any wine made anywhere in the world and is priced accordingly but I think it lives as long, if not longer, than almost any wine.  The 1968 is what they’re drinking now.  They make a second wine, Valbuena, for about ½ the price and in some years it rivals Unico.  Their third wine, Alion, is a great wine but the price has gone up about triple what it was when it started, partly because it got such high scores from Parker, Rovani, et. al, and partly because it probably is as good as wines costing as much.  But I don’t buy it any more.

Then came Pesquera, who also makes Condado de Haza, which I always like.  They had some rough spots in the 1990s, possibly because they ramped up production, but they seem to have recovered, based on what I’ve tasted.  They have not increased prices and remain very good and solid buys.

Pingus is newer and it’s actually more money than Unico.  It’s one of the most expensive wines from Spain and the world, made by Peter Sissek.  He makes a second one too that’s every bit as outstanding, but again, priced accordingly.

Then you have Mauro, made by Mariano Garcia, who made Unico for 30 years and probably knows the region’s vineyards better than anyone.  This is one of the must buys IMO and if you’re going to show me a classified growth from Bordeaux or cult cab from CA, they have to be much better to justify purchasing.  Their top wine is called Terreus and you might want to try it one day.  Also expensive but half the price of Unico and made by the guy who made those, so which do you buy?

He also makes Aalto, which was a project started w the Osborne family but they’ve sold their share.  That’s also going to start north of $60.  And finally, you have Astrales, which is also a must buy IMO, same family.  Hard to find better wine for $40 or so.   J.C. Conde Neo is another producer with a line of exceptional wines.  The winemaker is Garcia’s nephew so I guess quality is to be expected.

Alonso Del Yerro is made by Stephane Derenoncourt and some people think he’s the world’s greatest winemaker.  I guess they’re the ones who will buy that wine.  Dominio de Atauta is another bodega with a French winemaker and I’m starting to think that perhaps the French don’t understand Ribera as well as the natives do.  They make a line of wines that tends to be pricey for what you get and they’re also quite backward.  Whether they’ll open in the future is a question mark because they’ve only been around since 1999.

So then where do you go?  What happened is that in the region, most of the growers sold their grapes to large producers like Vega Sicilia or to or co-ops.  The latter gives you things like Protos, which has an ocean of wine in their cellars, but it’s middling. 

More recently, a lot of growers started doing their own wine and there’s been an explosion of wineries, which is what accounts for the price increases you mentioned, as well as the creation of the wineries above.  Since it’s no longer anonymous wine, they want to be paid for it and some of it is in fact quite good. Bodegas Peñafiel for example, was started by 15 friends who met while at the university.  They’ve got great vineyards and they’re trying to produce great wine, not co-op wine.

The result is that people are still finding their way.  Arzuaga is a throwback in a way, kind of like Pesquera, making “old school” wines that are pretty good for the price, age well, and their intro is something like $12 or so retail.  Carmelo Rodero is another that’s a bit old school, as is Briego, although they’re a relatively new bodega, having been established in the 1990s.  I guess I’d put Telmo Rodriguez in there too.

Then you have things like Emilo Moro.  More “modern” but you really can’t use those terms here.  Their top wine, Malleolus de Sancho Martin, or Mallelous de Valderramiro, can be expensive but delicious.  However, their base line is a really good job and even the $22 wine actually needs a bit of aging to show best. 

Arrocal is another young winery – their low end at around $15 is always a buy IMO and they’ve got a higher end one too, around $30.  Look for them.

Bodegas Alcon is very new, makes outstanding wine, and is looking for an importer because their wine is rather expensive.  Too bad the economy isn’t cooperative today because they’d be making some serious noise.  Modern and lush wines with great structure, completely delicious and they’re organic producers although the law will not allow them to be certified because their neighbors grow cereal crops and fertilize.  I hope they survive the downturn.  These guys represent a different trend. They don’t have the marquee winemakers like Pingus, Mauro, etc., or the old-time name like Vega Sicilia or even Pesquera, and they’re not small time-artisinal winemakers either.  They are perhaps comparable to some of the Napa producers – i.e. they’ve invested serious money, they’re serious people, they are making serious wine, and they expect to charge serious prices for it.  Is the wine worth the money?  Sure.  Perhaps more than most.  But it’s a bad economic time to be introducing premium products.

Felix Callejo has an entire line of wines that merit attention, from the $20s to over $100.  Also kind of “modern” in style, but again, that’s relative because there’s no comparison really.  Valderiz is another producer that is kind of under the radar but if you ever get a chance to taste one with some age, you wonder why you weren’t smart enough to buy a few cases years ago.

Cillar De Silos is interesting and typifies yet another type of bodega.  They are small and I guess you can call their wines “modern” but their aesthetic is slightly different from some of the others.  This group of wines is as tannic and tight as any classified Bordeaux and should be treated the same.  You’re not going to get slatherings of buttery oak and jam from these wines.  Instead you get massive tannins, dark fruit, earth, spice, and something that needs plenty of aging after which it will be simply magnificent.   Cillar de Silos makes a few wines and their top wine,  Altos de Revilla, will only be produced in great years.  First was 2004.  It’s only $45 to $50 and in a blind tasting, you should try it with some wines that are double in price.  Their lesser wine, Toresillos, deserves note. 

Because the locals were so impressed, a group of them from a neighboring co-op got together and gave their grapes to the winemaker to vinify.  The result is El Quintanal, which is cheaper and really represents a serious bargain.  Nearby to these people is a winery I represent, J.A. Calvo Casajus, that is really a tiny one man operation.  He makes wines of similar style. They’re closed at first but I’ve had them with 10 years and they’re magnificent.  These kinds of wines aren’t necessarily all that appealing to the person who wants to pop and pour, but to the person who knows a bit and has the ability to age something, they’re some of the best value wines on the market.

Hornillo Ballesteros is another tiny one-man garagiste operation that also needs more PR.

There are just so many more, Finca Torremilanos for example, They buy and age the wood and make their own barrels.  Then there are producers like Valderiz, and if you are lucky enough to taste their wines with some age, you wonder why you didn’t buy a few cases a long time ago.   You can look for Finca Villacreces, Hacienda Monasterio, Vina Sastre, Prado Rey, Perez Pascuas, Valduero and just too many others that are actually making good stuff.
And I have to put in a word for Abadia Retuerta.  As great as Aalto?  Of course not. But they’re good and widely available. Years ago I went into a store and asked for a bottle.  The woman who managed the place haughtily told me that they were owned by Novartis (which I knew) and that she would not sell something that would be supporting a pharmaceutical company.  She would instead suggest something else.

I replied that I’d probably had more Spanish wine than she ever would and knew exactly what I wanted and incidentally, when my father in law was hit by a speeding car and his spine was injured, or later when he was in the hospital suffering from cancer, the pharmaceutical companies produced the products that made his life bearable.  I never bought anything from that store again.

Reply by dmcker, Mar 7, 2010.

Great overview, Greg. Thanks.

Reply by GregT, Mar 7, 2010.

I don't know what I was thinking. Glad someone liked it.  There's just so much more.

Reply by dmcker, Mar 7, 2010.

Look forward to the opportunity of hearing it. Hopefully when I have a real chance of picking up at least half of the good'uns...

Reply by VegasOenophile, Apr 3, 2010.

I stopped in to that store and they droped the price from $24.99 to $9.99 so I thought, what the hell!  They had about a case left.  It's chilling in the cellar now.  I'l be sure to follow up once I crack it open.  Should be interesting.  If it's good, I'll go get more of it. 

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