Wine expert Martin Moran on the battle of the Tempranillos...
Martin Moran joins Sean Moncrieff to discuss the tempranillo grape...
Spain’s top two red wine regions are Rioja and Ribera del Duero, although some other regions would no doubt dispute this. The main grape in both is Tempranillo. How do they compare? Well, we tasted a similarly priced example of each during Movies and Booze today to find out.
Ribera del Duero wines are usually 100% Tempranillo but called Tinto Fino or Tinto del Pais locally but can be blended with Cabernet, Malbec and Merlot. Rioja on the other hand is sometimes a 100% Tempranillo but is usually the lead varietal in a blend with partners Garnacha (Grenache), Graciano and Mazuelo (Carignan).
Both regions use a classification system based on ageing. The following designations are aged progressively longer: joven; crianza; reserve and gran reserve. Naturally selections are made and the better wines are aged longer. Wines can be blended from across the region but increasingly producers are bottling single vineyard wines and labelling them simply as Rioja or Ribera del Duero with no ageing classification.
Both regions, of course, have different soils and climates. Both can and do age in French and American oak. So how are they different? There is no one definitive style in each region. Historically Rioja was lighter with more red fruits like strawberry and a floral quality and was aged in American oak giving a strong vanilla component. Wines though are getting darker with more black fruit flavours and increasing use of French oak, which is more subtle. Ribera wines tend to be darker with more intense black fruit flavours and higher alcohol, but not always! Both can make wines that age for decades. The choice is yours.
Marques de Murrieta Reserva 2011, €19.99, reduced from €23.95, O’Briens.
77% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha, 5% Mazuelo, 8% Graciano, and aged 23 months in American oak and a year in bottle before release.
Ebano Crianza Ribera del Duero 2013. €23.95 RSP, Redmonds, The Vintry, Hole in the Wall D7, Martin’s Fairview, Drinkstore.ie, O’Neill’s South Circular, Morton’s Galway, 1601 Kinsale, Cashel Wine Cellar.
Made from 100% Tempranillo from 50-year-old bush vines growing at altitude of 800m. Aged for 13 months in French oak and then a year in bottle before release.