Ribera del Duero Wine Taste Off

Ribera del Duero blind tasting results

grape of Ribera del Duero

Tinto Fino

Even though the red wines of Ribera del Duero are essentially made from the same grape as the wines of the Rioja region, Ribera del Duero lives in the shadow of its big brother. When folks think of Spanish red wines, Rioja immediately comes to mind. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, this is very evident in wine shops. Where it is easy to find Rioja wines, Ribera del Duero wines are few and far between. Vintage Wine Taster Mike, who organized the blind tasting of Ribera del Duero wines, found the largest selection of wines at the Spanish Table in Berkeley.

In 2007 we traveled for four weeks in Spanish wine country and visited Ribera del Duero wineries along the famed Spanish Golden Mile. We learned that the grape of the Ribera del Duero is Tinto Fino, a type of Tempranillo grape. This particular Tempranillo grape can withstand the high daytime temperatures that often exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months. The saving grace for this grape is the huge swing in nighttime temperatures, which can drop as much as 40 degrees. Although the Ribera del Duero wine region is very old, winemaking techniques broke from tradition around 1980 when Alejandro Fernández founded his Bodega Pesquera and started to make red wines in a bolder, more fruit-forward style. From that time forward, many new wineries have been established applying the techniques of Alejandro Fernández. In my view, compared to Rioja wines, the Ribera del Duero wines are more lush and rich and a bit bolder.

image of a Ribera del Duero Bodega

Bodega Pesquera in Ribera del Duero

Here are the Ribero del Duero wines we blind tasted and in the order that we ranked them:

  • 2006 Emina Reserva – $28 at the Wine House in San Francisco
  • 2009 Celeste Crianza – $21 at the Spanish Table
  • 2011 Torremoron – $14 at the Spanish Table – best bargain
  • 2009 Creta “Chalk” Roble – $15 at the Spanish Table
  • 2011 Mibal Joven – $18 at the Spanish Table
  • 2008 Haza Crianza – $28 at the Spanish Table

bottles of the ribera del duero wines we tasted

Ribero del Duero blind tasting

The best deal of the six would be the Torremoron that sells at the Spanish Table for $14.

For what is worth, my first place wine was the Haza Crianza. I love this wine and once in a while I find it at Costco for about $22. At that price it is a steal. All the wines had a very nice aroma and were well balanced and delicious. These are well made wines ready to drink and enjoy.

For the tasting we used the Wine Scoring Forms found on WineCountryGetaways.com. We tally the scores from each of the ten Vintage Tasters and get an overall cumulative score. The wine with the highest scores is our winner.

BevMo Five Cent sale, the first one of the year 2013, has started. I will do a thorough investigation and make some recommendations later in the week. Here is my take on the last BevMo Five Cent Sale of 2012. I suspect that BevMo will have plenty of the same wines at their current sale as they did last fall. It is usually the same old, same old stuff at each BevMo sale.


  1. These wines are excellent and under-appreciated in California. Perhaps because of competitive shelf space, it will be difficult to find these wines in grocery chains. Your best bet is to visit your local wine store and request information. Your efforts will be rewarded if and when you find some Riberas.

  2. Ribera wines are the Cadillac of Spain. They suffer only because their DOC was established in 1982. The wines have great color and aromatics as well as balanced fruit and acidity. They are the European counter part of what Argentine Malbec is in the US market. The quality of winemaking and vineyard improvement is shown at all levels of Ribera production. They as a whole represent true dollar value for the consumer. Great information..

  3. I’m from Spain, and i think that Emina Prestigio is the best of this wines… Celeste is a very good wine too.

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