wine with lulu : ribera del duero

After three months in this city, the sounds, smells, and faces are now far from foreign. What's second nature to me now will soon become a glimmering memory of a distant land, the my appetite for Spanish wine will inevitably persist.

It was a weekend like any other in San Sebastian. By the movement on our street alone I could tell you the hour. A clockwork routine inside and out. Before 10:30am, window shutters are still rolled down from the night before harboring motionless bodies sleeping off food and drink. The ringing of a landline and clopping of the heels from the unit above means it's 11am or past. Time to venture out.

A little side note: due to the painful process of typing all these write-ups on my iPhone, last week was to be my last wine. But Marti convinced my sour thumbs to type one more week -  So, back to our usual weekend walk to the vino shop. As I wander about like a lost sheep, examining the gaggle of bottles, Marti is lashing bottles off and on the shelf like a pro. She found a bottle from a region I had yet to explore and *bonus point - in a newly designed bottle. Sold.


Name: Casa de Castilla

Region: Ribera del Duero

Year: 2007

Grape: 100% Tempranillo

Ribera del Duero is a reputable wine region in central Spain (north of Madrid) It's noted specifically for exclusive red wines made from Tempranillo grapes. These vines grow in high sediment soils along the banks of the Duero River, which is exposed to high altitude and extreme climatic conditions of little rain fall, hot summers, freezing winters. Casa de Castilla is of a Crianza age ( 2 years + barrel maturation) this bottle spent 12 months in French or American Oak barrels. Pertaining specifically to the name/label - you'll see the word 'Castilla' on a million wines here. For good reason, Spain is riddled with medieval castles. The wine label sports a guarding drum tower or for you chess lovers, a rook.

Now, let's get down to brass tacks - this fancy new bottle. Who's behind the design? Well, a famous Spanish Chef who goes by the name Martin Berasategui. His new, highly marketable design has a base that serves as a sediment-capturing chamber. Pretty much the bottle acts as its own decanter. Ridding your bottle of pesky dregs means you can milk every last drop of that fine wine. It's also a brilliant strong hold for serving/servers who do the proper punt hold ;) We'll see if this diddy catches fire with it's coming of age. 


 Winter has been flung upon San Sebastian. The cold and dense seaside air give cause for achy joints and bone chilling nights. Lately, i tend to look more like a deranged hobo with my multiple layers of unseasonable clothing and fingerless gloves. Carting the bottle by he neck, i popped the cork in the comforts of a twin mattress I've inhabited so well. With an eager swiftness I began to pour a dark burgundy, vivid and clean. To the nose, a bowl of ripe fruit, woody with a complex undertone which easily puzzled my senses. To first sip, a surprisingly velvety smoothness. Quite opposite from the other tempranillos I've tried. A distinct earthy element, something unique which lingered in your nasal passage ( sounds silly, but true ) the smell consisted of hay and wood, like the smell of hot sun and sweet grass - mixed with munching on a brick of cheese. I dunno....this is the best way I can describe it. Anywho, it was delicious, full-bodied, smooth earthy goodness. It may have been clear of dregs but absolutely abundant with the ancient richness of the soil it hales from.

My wine drenched heart will miss all that this country has to offer.  I'm so grateful to Marti who not only took a shot on her nanny to do these write-ups but for all she's shown me of this magnificent Basque Country...