Reserva Me a Glass (or Bottle)

It’s time we cut to the chase as far as Ribera del Duero wines–we’ve done the pink ones and the young ones, but what the region is truly noted for are the bold, bad ass reserva and gran reservawines that pack a punch, and totally kill it alongside juicy steaks, roasted lamb, and other delicacies typical of Spanish cuisine.

Now, not just every plot of grapes on the planet can make a wine like this, and that’s why it can be helpful to know which regions are good for a strong red wine (the sexy types that bite you back, but in an oh-so-good way).  In essence, it’s all about how the weather makes the grapes the perfect mixture of sweet and sour (sugar vs. acidity if you want to sound wine-geeky).The hot in the day, cold at night, wildly temperature-variable and dry climate of Ribera del Duero is part of what makes this work.

The aging process then kicks in and transforms the grape juice into a deep purple reserva.  Everything starts out joven, but Spanish law requires reservas to have been aged for at least three years, with at least one in a flavor-soaked oak barrel. It’s this extra hang-out time that makes the reservas so dark and handsome. Like a guy who’s been around the block a few times, a reserva that’s been in bottle for a few years has a more forceful personality (read: aroma and flavor) than a fresh-off-the-presses joven or crianza wine despite being made from the same grape.


Vega Sicilia is the numero uno Ribera del Duero wine label, and I’m sure their reservas rock, but if you can’t stomach a $400 price tag, more wallet-friendly wonders do exist. (Be warned: the older your bottle, the heftier its effects on your wallet).

My starving girl in NYC  bargain pick was a 2005 Reserva from Torre Golban ($19.99). I was excited as soon as this juice went from bottle to glass. Nearly black in color, the aromas on this were like an artisanal leather store with the slightest blackberry hint–just enough to let you know the wine was made from grapes, and not actual leather.

The taste finished seducing me right where the smell left off–the Golban had a rustic, rough-and-tumble feeling in my mouth and a finish that just didn’t end. (A note to the gentlemen: this wine is seduction in a bottle, share accordingly).

Ribera Reserva Uncorked:

Laura Loves: This blog for details on what “reserve” really means.

Go-to Pairing: Peppery steak or Chorizo-laden anything (check out this great site for food/wine matching needs).

Yes, They Get Better: Gran Reserva wines, aged a minimum of 5 years, are the expensive pinnacle of Spanish wines.  Made only in exceptional years, you should absolutely try them if you’ve got the cash or get the chance.

Sommelier Secret: According to this guy something like a reserva is a great value bottle at an American steakhouse where everyone thinks a Napa Cabernet is the winner.


  • June 20, 2012
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