Ribera Rolls into Toronto
Mid-May in Toronto saw the arrival of wine makers and winery principals from Spain’s Ribera del Duero region. Represented by the Asociación de bodegueros de la Ribera del Duero (ASEBOR), the contingent set up shop in the Westin Harbour Castle to pour their wares.
This was the first time this delegation had visited Canada (having flown into Toronto from Montréal) and hopefully it won’t be the last as the wines being served were of an impressive quality level right across the board.
The wines of Ribera del Duero, in the northeast part of the country, are hardly new to international wine lovers thanks to the efforts of heavy hitters like Vega Sicilia and Tinto Pesquera. However, this evening the room was occupied with some 15 bodegas that would have been largely unknown to most Canadians.
Some of the standouts included:
2006 A&M from Bodegas Asenjo & Manso
Made with fruit from 100-year-old Tempranillo vines and made in very limited quantity (less than 4,000 bottles), it offered up an explosive, complex nose of kirsch, black cherry, black olive, and mocha. Dense and chewy on the palate with layers of blueberry, sweet cherry, and coffee. A knockout.
2009 Teófilo Reyes from Bodegas Reyes
With 16 months cask aging combined with an additional eight in bottle, this 100 per cent Tempranillo was ripe and smoky on the nose with hints of spice and oak. Rich and with an impressive depth of flavour, this wine showed the typical power of the Ribera tintos without being heavy-handed or out of balance.
2009 MB from Martín Berdugo
This concentrated red spends a full two years aging in French oak barrels and an additional nine months in bottle prior to release. Aromas of ripe red fruit combined with a dash of black current and mineral earthy notes segue to similar flavours with the long finish trailing off with a kiss of vanilla.
2009 Don Miguel Comenge from Bodegas Comenge
This sleek, modern-looking winery incorporates a number of ingenious tactics in its winemaking process, including the use of a specially developed and patented strain of wild yeast. The Don Miguel Comenge is made from largely Tempranillo with a small addition of Cabernet Sauvignon harvested from its “Pago de Hontanillas” estate, 900 meters above sea level. Concentrated dark fruit aromas with underpinnings of cocoa, spice, and cedar. Quite rich with layers of earthy fruit and a memorable, mildly spicy end notes.
2004 Mirat Reserva from Bodegas Valdeviñas
Spain remains one of, if not the only, major wine-producing country that will hold back wine until it reaches its optimum drinking age before releasing it to market. This reserve is crafted from Tempranillo grapes from vines over 80 years old. Beautiful aromas of vanilla, spice, sandalwood, and black cherry fruit. Round, supple, and silky in the mouth with layer of sweet, cherry-tinged fruit.
2012 Vitulia Verdejo from Bodegas Vitulia
Though the room was awash in red wine, a few whites made an appearance, including this fresh, crisp, floral Verdejo. Lively, fragrant floral fruit and mouthwatering acidity combined seamlessly to offer a liquid kiss of spring. Extremely refreshing.
Though the wines at this event showed beautifully for the most part, one hopes that ASEBOR – or whichever event planning outfit it hired – will put more attention into the overall delivery of an event like this in the future. The turnout was rather thin, the book of tasting notes and winery information rife with typos (even lacking page numbers), and the overall vibe was one of workable disorganization. Apparently the “press conference” even turned out to be a non-event. These are solid producers with quality products to show, and they deserve better than what they were given. So to whoever is responsible, bring these people back to Toronto, and stage an event that is as classy as the wines being served.