The Sixth Ribera of Christmas: 2009 Barco de Piedra

"For the sixth Ribera of Christmas my wine guy gave to me… a 2009 Barco de Piedra." The philosophy behind Barco de Piedra is quite simple: "the Tempranillo grape grown in Ribera del Duero has plenty of tannins, you don't need to add more, which is precisely what oak aging will do. The grape's thick skin naturally produces powerful, robust wines packed with flavor. Adding more power and oak to something already powerful is overkill." This attitude has served them well; the winery produces as excellent wine in the Barco de Piedra.

The vineyards are located in the heart of the western district of Ribera del Duero less than a mile from the Duero River. This area is not as exposed to frost and experiences more moderate temperatures. Cooler nights and minimal rain coupled with older vines produce small berries with a high skin-to-juice ratio and strong tannins.

Once the best clusters of each parcel are harvested they are brought to the winery where a second process of cluster selection is performed. The grapes are then macerated and fermented in stainless steel tanks (total time is around three weeks). The juice is then placed in 3-year-old 300-liter French (85%) and American (15%) oak barrels for only 5 months to minimize the oak ratio per liter.

Dark purple in the glass, the 2009 Barco de Piedra exudes a bouquet comprised of spice box, and black cherry. Similar notes coat the palate along with licorice and blackberry. The wine is medium-bodied with soft tannins and an extremely smooth finish. A product of the excellent 2009 vintage from the region, this wine is extremely enjoyable and at around $15 a bottle a great bargain.

Life is short. Drink Spanish wine!