The Duero Valley – a wine treat from Amelia Aragon
Some wine names just conjure up images of quality and decadence. Burgundy, Chateauneuf de Pape, Barolo, Sauternes all have you thinking of wines of quality, style and elegance. The name Rioja is synonymous with quality Spanish wine the world over, those deep well oaked reds. However a little further south west of La Rioja you will find the Duero valley with hills rising either side of the river. A river that is well known as the Douro of Portugal where Port barges sail up and down proudly displaying the name of each Port House that makes their fortified wine.
However in the Duero as it is known in Spain there are vineyards making huge full-bodied reds and elegant whites. In this region is where Amelia Aragon and her brother Oscar make their wines. I have been fortunate enough to come across a full spectrum of these wines this summer and I have to say I love them. The big complaex reds of Ribero del Duero, where the cool summer nights give wines of body and finesse are my favourite Spanish reds. And the ones from Amelia stand out. Alongside the Aragon reds are whites from Rueda, slightly downstream from Ribero del Duero, Rueda has chalky soils where the verdejo grape produces elegant white wines.
When a six pack of these wines became available via Naked Wines I couldn’t wait for them to arrive. The biggest question was whether to drink now or to keep them. As you’ll see below largely they’ve been opened and enjoyed….
El Quintanal Verdejo 2011 – Rueda
There is an explosion of lime, passion fruit and apricots as soon as you open the bottle and hot climate sings out from the pale green tinged wine. Passion fruit dominates the complex palate which also has citrus, a curious brioche note and then apples on the finish. Fantastic wine and an ideal food match to risottos, paellas and summer barbecued seafood and white meats.
El Quintanal Tempranillo 2011 – Ribero del Duero
Deep purple, almost black hue with bags of alcohol and black fruit on the nose. Lovely palate of tempranillo fruit of spicy plums and brambles, a little leather and soft soft tannins. Long alcoholic complex finish with bramble and tobacco. Lovely young wine from this amazing region.
Cillar de Silos Crianza 2009 – Ribero del Duero
The darkness of the glass gives a tantalising hint to the depth within. The nose is full of alcohol with a little black fruit and spice. The palate is soft upfront, with lots of brambles and a greenness to it, then some white pepper spice starts to appear, followed by a bit of vanilla sweetness as wave upon wave of complexity descends. The finish is long with drying tannin alongside juicy fruit. I also left it for a day and the vanilla of the oak became more developed. Big sweet oaky palate with the same spicy black fruit and tannin. Soft, rich and very long finish. Wonderful.
After all these beautiful wines (plus the Cillar Joven 2011 whose tasting notes have vansihed!) I was delighted to find another in a wine shop that I know well. Oddbins Mitchell Street in Glasgow where I worked at the very start of my wine adventure. The Cillar de Silos rose. For me Spanish rose is a thing of beauty, generally a rose which is a perfect accompaniment to the food of that wonderful country. Fruit and acidity to cut through the oiliness of fresh seafood or offset a table of tapas. This one did not disappoint, in fact it kind of blew me away.
Cillar de Silos Rosado 2010
Strawberries on the nose followed by a full rich palate of strawberry fruit and a big alcohol kick. Mouthwatering acidity and long strawberry floral finish. I’ve had this with both paella and a tomato based sauce and it was a wonderful accompaniment.
I have one bottle left from this adventure, Torre Silo 2008. Amelia says it is drinking now but will benefit from ageing. I’m saving this for a special occasion, one which deserves the top wine from such wonderful winemakers. I hope that occasion comes soon and that many more of the Aragon wines from the wonderful Duero valley find there way over here. Even better would be to visit like my Twitter friend Erica (@ericawinetrips) did .