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Riberas On The List

Food-friendly wines from Ribera del Duero
Chang and Smith

Food-friendly wines from Ribera del Duero offer broad ranges of styles and prices that most american restaurants can embrace, from value-priced, fruity, quaffable Joven/Roble bottlings to complex and age worthy Riservas and Gran Reservas.

Belinda Chang, who has held wine and spirits director positions with Culinary Concepts Hospitality Group, the Monkey Bar, and the Modern in new york City, contends, “in this world there are still money-is-no-object collectors fighting over new releases of First Growth Bordeaux. Ribera del Duero is one of the few regions truly producing world-class reds at affordable prices.” While at the Modern, Chang listed a dozen Riberas, from a 2007 Urban tinta del País at $42 to a 1985 magnum of Unico at $1,800, one of seven choices from famous Vega sicilia. Of these iconic wines, Chang comments, “it helps serious collectors see that we offer some of the best values on our list at the high end, and they totally take advantage.”

One would expect to find a deep selection of Riberas at Picasso, the celebrated Iberian/Mediterranean-themed restaurant at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, where maestro Julian serrano commands the kitchen and Master sommelier Robert smith the wine team. More than 100 selections for the appellation grace smith’s list, including a number of large formats, ranging in price from $50 to four digits. smith, who has managed the Picasso list since the restaurant’s opening in 1998, readily admits to a love for the minerality and ageability of the region’s wines, remarking, “i’m beginning to see wines with a bit more structure and concentration in recent vintages, however, they still show amazing mineral balance. i really do not have a favorite producer. I am partial to all for their great diversity.”

Smith continues, “I love to pair Ribera del Duero wines with roasted lamb. the match brings out wonderful spice tones and the fruit notes of the wine.” Chang’s favorite Ribera food pairing at the Modern was Chef Gabriel Kreuther’s classic Chorizo-Crusted Cod with White Coco Beans and Harissa oil. “You might think that a white wine would be the best match with a delicate white-fleshed fish in the equation, “ she says. “But the smoky, spicy chorizo and the rich, buttery beans with a Ribera del Duero wine make a fantastic pair.”

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