Wine Women of the World: Ribera Del Duero Spain

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We’re always looking for great red wines that show some restraint yet exude bright fruit flavcr. By “we” I mean those of us who study wine, drink it daily and forever quest to understand the balance and subtlety that’s at the heart of delicious wine. The wines of Ribera del Duero fit the bill. Generally made of 100% Tempranillo, and only occassionally with 10-20% Cabernet Sauvignon added and less often with a splash of Greanache, the bright cherry essence and medium acidity keeps these wines pleasing in the long run.

I recently had the grand opportunity to taste a room full of these lovely wines allowing me to get a relative perspective. The tasting was held at Tavernita paired to bites of Chef Ryan Poli’s new Latin cuisine. Having the opportunity to meet one of the highly regarded female winemakers in the region was certainly the highlight. Lina Paramo, winemaker of the lovely wines of Bodega Paramo Arroyo was in town pouring her wines and gave me the low down on the region and her wines.

I learned that the region (“ribera” translates to “river bank”) is defined by its proximity to the Duero River Valley and benefits from the great diversity of soils deposited by the river. Ribera del Duero is located in Spain’s northern plateau approximately an hour and a half from Madrid and extends over four provinces of Castilla y León: Burgos, Segovia, Soria and Valladolid.

Ms. Paramo has been making wine in the region since 2000 using all organic production and techniques. She studied wine making many years back but only recently became a winemaker on this 55 Hectare property, which is planted with 100% Tempranillo grapes. “Organic” in Spain means working the vineyards without chemical pesticides or additives and currently, of the 240+ wineries in the region, there are only three others with the organic certification that Paramo Arroya has achieved. At this tasting she showed several wines including her Joven, which is all stainless steel aged, Crianza, aged for fourteen months in American Oak, and her Reserva is aged for 15-18 months in American and French oak barrels. Much of the Reserva wines are made from old vines on their property, some dating as far back as 60 years.. There’s a minimum of two years required by Spanish wine law for the wine to be held before release, whether in barrel or bottle, but at Paramo Arroyo, wine is typically not released for three years between barrel and bottle aging.

The temperature swings along with the proximity to the river and clay soils are what make these wines so distinctive in flavor, says Paramo. This diversity helps the wine show distinct character. The organic viticulture also helps the wine express themselves fully, Paramo says. Ms. Paramo is a firm believer that the majority of work needs to be done naturally in the vineyard and once the wine is in the cellar, it manipulates minimally, using native yeasts for fermentation as well.

Take a peek at the pictures below to see the array of wines poured and the exceptional bottles from Bodega Paramo Arroyo. We can only hope these wines will be available in Chicago soon.

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About Laura Levy Shatkin

Laura Levy Shatkin served for 10 years as food and wine critic for the Chicago Reader. Later, she became an Emmy-nominated executive producer for Taste, a 30-minute food and wine show on NBC-5 Chicago, which later merged into www.WineTasteTV.com, where Ms. Levy is a partner/owner. Today, she teaches private wine classes and hosts wine parties for consumers and firms, and continues to tell the video stories of wine, girlfriends and wine travel on her TCW blog, Wine…ing Women.