Bodegas Vizcarra Ramos Roble Ribera del Duero 2005 Tasting Notes
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Bodegas Vizcarra Ramos Roble Ribera del Duero 2005 Tasting Notes

Artisanal winemaker Juan Carlos Vizcarra produces a number of different wine styles, all, however, from 100% Tempranillo, without argument the greatest of all Spanish black grapes. Aged a sensible six months in French oak, the Bodegas Vizcarra Ramos (the winery) Roble (the wine type) Ribera del Duero (the appellation) 2005 brings out a truly distinctive and mainstream-delicious evocation of the Tempranillo.

The $22 wine is a delight to the eye: a deep ruby with purple around the edges. On the nose it is as honest and clean as they come, with a little heat (from 13% alcohol) that quickly paves the way for chocolate, lavender, cassis, licorice and black pepper.

The wine's palate is an interesting amalgam of raspberry, cranberry, sour cherry, cassis, cocoa, black pepper, orange rind, citrus essence, and a touch of candied fruit. The oak is present at all times, but adds the elegance of age rather than the brashness of youth. The finish is supported by an appropriate firmness of the fruit and supple tannins, with that black pepper leaving its imprint at the end.

The wine is highly tactile, its mouthfeel reminding me at times of a smooth Pinot Noir at its best. The feel of the wine, in fact, stands on an equal basis to its aromatic elements. This is the kind of wine that mixes up the senses, letting you taste the color, feel the aroma, see the aromatic notes. The wine is elegant and yet confident, the kind of wine you approach as a friend and ally. The elements balance extremely well. Hardly a simple wine, the Roble is yet an easy wine to drink. You can enjoy it by analyzing its constituent parts and recording your notes, yet you can enjoy it equally by pushing all that bother aside and letting your senses take over. You can, however, at no time ignore the fact that the wine is a product of a great Spanish grape and a very special Spanish place.

Verdict: A Delight
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The best wines engage both sensuality and intellect. Once you start to swallow, the direct experience of the wine inevitably prevails over the limited power of words.

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award


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