Castilla y Leon: Ribera del Duero

Alvides (Villalba de Duero)

Alvides is a family Bodega. Concha’s father founded the Co-op in Aranda del Duero in 1962. They have 15 ha of vines, some between 60-80 years old, others between 15-30. Enter 33 year-old Emmanuel Ivar who studied winemaking in the Loire and moved to Ribera del Duero. Known locally as Manuel, he has been making wine for 10 large estates in the area. Concha has given him free reign at Alvides to do his own thing. Picked in 20kg baskets, some destemming, 2 or 3 days cold maceration, 30-40 days on the skins. Every level of wine from Joven through Crianza up to the Reserva are treated to some time in oak. Crianza and above are fermented in barrique and there is much stirring of the lees. The results are excellent – we find a high dark fruit content in the nose (with a touch of vanilla – from the oak) and a fabulous suppleness in the mouth. Truly a modern expression of Ribera del Duero.

Arco de Curiel (Curiel)

If you ask the Spanish which region makes their finest wine you will often be surprised to hear it’s not Rioja but Ribera del Duero (unless you are actually in La Rioja, of course). Around 150kms north of Madrid, in the old kingdom of Castille y Leon, between Valladolid and Zaragoza, Ribera del Duero combines the deep, gutsy, sweaty tones we associate with Spanish reds with silky elegance. Tempranillo is the grape – known as Tinto del Pais here.
We were delighted to discover Arco de Curiel, made in the shadow of the rather large gateway into the rather small village of Curiel outside Peñafiel. When we visited in June we were given the full tour of every vineyard and a nearby cliff populated by vultures. This beautiful Roble is bold, deep and gutsy. Rich, oaky, plummy and yet elegant and makes the perfect match with the locals’ favourite food – grilled spring lamb with green salad and a hunk of bread. Yum.