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Stunning reds from Spain

The Sunday Times, 21 May 17 – Hedy Khoo

Bottles from one of the country’s top wine regions are now available on ST Wine Club

Spain is the world’s third largest wine-producing country and some of its best red wines come from the northern region of Ribera del Duero.

Spanish winemaker Javier Aladro, who was in town recently to conduct a masterclass on Ribera del Duero wines, says: “The beauty of the wines is how they suit different levels of wine drinkers. They are easy to drink, which will appeal to new wine drinkers, and yet have power and complexity that wine connoisseurs will enjoy.”

Fine wines from Spain are now available on the ST Wine Club’s online site.

The latest selection features signature wines from Bodegas Valdubon, an established winery in Ribera del Duero, which produced 800,000 bottles of wine last year.

Mr Aladro, 45, joined the winery in 2003. He has a doctorate in chemistry and a degree in oenology, or the study of wines.

The region’s primary grape variety is the Tempranillo – the most planted grape in Spain. The high altitude and harsh climate of extreme temperatures work in favour of the grape by giving it bold complexity.

The reds of Ribera del Duero have a distinct intensity in terms of colour, aroma and flavour.

The region gained recognition as one of Spain’s premier wine regions when it received its Denominacion de Origen (DO) status in 1982.

Mr Aladro says the region’s wines carry plenty of fruit flavours, which make them palatable and food- friendly, pairing especially well with meat.

The Valdubon Crianza 2014, one of the winery’s popular reds, is designed to be enjoyed with food.
He says: “The wine is robust with rich notes of red fruit like plum, is well-rounded on the palate, has well-balanced acidity and can be enjoyed with meat such as lamb, pork or beef.”
The wine is made solely from Tempranillo grapes from vineyards older than 40 years. The vines are closely monitored and thinned to produce an average of seven to eight bunches of grapes a vine. The controlled yield ensures quality.

After harvesting, the grapes are swiftly sent to the winery and milled within 10 hours. The wine is aged for 12 months in 67 per cent American oak and 33 per cent French oak barrels.
For even greater complexity, the Valdubon Reserva 2011 is a stately red with more structure than the Crianza and is softer on the palate.

The power and refined elegance come from ageing for more than 23 months in 50 per cent American oak and 50 per cent French oak barrels, followed by ageing in the bottle for two years.

Mr Aladro says: “Ageing in the bottle is a challenge because the wine is free to evolve and, every time you open the bottle, it is a surprise. When you have wine in a vat, you can taste it every day and monitor it closely. For wines ageing in the bottle, we open a bottle to taste every two months. Each impression is different.”

The Valdubon Reserva 2011 pairs well with meat and chocolate-rich desserts. “Try this wine with bitter dark chocolate. You will be surprised at how well the two go together,” he says.

Five things to know about Spanish wine
1 Spain is the third leading wine-producing country after Italy and France, according to figures from the International Organisation of Vine and Wine.
2 The Tempranillo is a grape variety native to Spain used in making red wines. It is the most cultivated grape in Spain and goes by different names in different regions. In Ribera del Duero, it is known as Tinta del Pais.
3 In Ribera del Duero, most of the red wines are made entirely from Tinta del Pais.
4 Denominacion de Origen (DO) is part of a regulatory classification system used to indicate quality and determine the geographical origins of wine or other food products in Spain.
5 Under DO regulations for Ribera del Duero wines, red Crianza wines must age for two years with a minimum of 12 months in oak barrels. Reserva wines must age for three years with a minimum of 12 months in oak barrels.
Spanish wines from ST Wine Club’s latest selections

VALDUBON VERDEJO 2016
Grape: Verdejo
Bottles produced a year: 35,000
The wine is a bright light yellow with flashes of green. On the nose, it has vegetal nuances with mineral touches and a background of spices, vanilla and coconut. It is lively on the palate, fruity with good acidity. It is refreshing and has a long finish with a slight hint of bitterness. Best served well chilled.

VALDUBON CRIANZA 2014
Grape: Tinta del Pais (Tempranillo)
Bottles produced a year: 125,000
Its colour is an intense, deep blood-red with purple hues, indicating good ageing. It is clean, bright and fruity on the nose with notes of ripe plum, red berries mixed with cacao, coconut, liquorice and thyme. The palate is powerful and velvety with balance in acidity and alcohol. Ready to be enjoyed now, this wine also has ageing potential.

VALDUBON RESERVA 2011
Grape: Tinta del Pais (Tempranillo)
Bottles produced a year: 35,000
The colour is an intense deep red with hints of violet. Complex and spicy on the nose, the aroma is rich with ripe fruit mixed with liquorice and nuts. On the palate, the wine is bright and elegant, with good acidity and ripe tannins. To best enjoy this wine, decant it 30 minutes before tasting.
Get all three featured Valdubon wines at a special package price of $168 now available on the ST Wine site. To order, go to stwine.sg

Fine wine at great prices

Join the ST Wine Club and enjoy surprise monthly packages of fine wines delivered to your doorstep. The ST Wine Club is a premium wine club of The Straits Times, which works with reputable wine merchants to curate and present a selection of fine wines with the best value.
Gold packages feature New World wines and Platinum packages feature Old World wines.
Those who sign up for any six-month Platinum wine subscription package can now purchase a bottle of Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky 12 Years at a special price of $188. The promotion is limited to stocks available. To order, go to STWine.sg at stwine.sg/wine-packages
For inquiries, e-mail STWine@sph.com.sg or call 6319-5076 during office hours.

ST WINE CHOICE SELECTION
Donnafugata Anthilia Bianco 2015
Rating: JS 92
Grapes: Catarratto is the predominant variety A brilliant straw yellow, the wine is fresh and fragrant on the nose with fruity notes of apple, peach and citrus peel. On the palate, it is fruity and is ideally paired with fish or vegetable courses.

Ceretto Barbaresco DOCG 2013
Rating: RP 91
Grape: Nebbiolo The grapes of the vineyard have been cultivated as a single parcel since the 1970s. A review by the Robert Parker Wine Advocate describes the wine as lean and compact, with aromas of wild berry, liquorice, ash and dried rose petal. It also has warmer layers of tar and coffee.

Domaine Auguste Clape Cotes Du Rhone 2015
Rating: RP 90
Grape: Syrah A dark-coloured wine abundant with red and black fruit both on the nose and palate, with a touch of mineral, black pepper and gamey flavours.

Alceno Monastrell 12 Meses Barrica 2011
Rating: RP 90
Grape: Monastrell Aged for 12 months in French and American oak barrels, this Spanish red is deep and elegant with an intense colour and complex aromas of black fruit, cocoa and spices.