Ribera Del Duero Review–Manchego and Microscopic Print

Went to the “Drink Ribera. Drink Spain.” trade industry wine tasting yesterday evening at the Setai. And it was definitely worth the platform-sexy hike from the $1-an-hour parking lot on 17th Street (Just couldn’t swing valets fees and tip). So, this is the first time I’ve been to the Setai in the day, so I was totally confused about where I was supposed to go. I didn’t realize the Setai had so many towers and detours. Anyway, I arrive at the Grande Suite, the gorgeous, panoramic South Beach view embracing the stench of pouring alcohol. And it’s business as usual–wine business people in comfy suits, Barbi-licious hangers-on, slightly inebriated sales reps, clueless pours and wine geeks sipping, spitting, drinking and gobbling.

THE GOOD STUFF: If you wanted to get a sense of what Ribera Del Duero wines have to offer, this tasting was very good. A wine instructor said that Tempranillo (a Spanish wine grape) wines have a distinct vanilla bouquet and I found that to be true in many of the wines. Among them are the 2006 Unacepa Tinto, the 2006 De Pagos Quintana Crianza and the 2005 Montecastro, which had sweet, black cherry flavors and a powerful vanilla bouquet–all yummy. On the other hand, there were wines that gave you a sense of place, a sense of the Ribera Del Duero region itself (terrior). This category included 2006 Creta Roble which smelled of wet leaves, was very tannic and had dry cherry flavors and the 2006 Emilio Moro, which also had a wet earth bouquet, red cherry flavors and had medium tannins. I’m learning that the best way to enjoy regional wines is with regional cuisine, so the Serrano ham and other Spanish cured meats and cheeses like Manchego were absolutely divine and really married well with the earthier, funkier wines.

THE BAD STUFF: Pourers need to know a little bit about the wines they’re pouring. I don’t want to hear about what you’re doing in college. Tell me about the wine. I need to scribble notes on the sheets that list the wines. Can we please widen the rows and cells on these tables? Can they not be so microscopic? If wines are placed on the table according to distributor and importer, can the printed wine list be arranged accordingly? It’s hard to hold a big, dinner plate, wine glass and try to scurry through the pages trying to find the wine that’s in microscopic print. Can we use tapas plates next time? The big, dinner plates aren’t an authentic, Spanish tapas experience and they’re hard to carry around. Last, but not least. It’s hard to maintain one’s sexy and not look like a greedy, underpaid writer when one has to bend into a subterranean to cut a piece of Manchego gracefully. Let’s place these platters a little higher next time. Cheers.


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