Barco de Piedra
Barco de Piedra is an affirmation of the beauty and purity of the Tempranillo grape as it is grown in Ribera del Duero. The noble Tempranillo grape called Tinto Fino or Tinta del País by locals, has suffered from producers who like to use excessive “make up”; too much new oak or winemaking technique which obscures the identity of the grape. The logic behind Barco de Piedra is simple: the Tempranillo grape grown in Ribera del Duero has plenty of tannins, you don't need to add more which is precisely what thoughtless oak ageing will do. The grape's thick skin naturally produces powerful, robust wines packed with flavor. Adding more power and oak to something already powerful is overkill. The three parcels that produce Barco de Piedra are located on the hillside of the Quiñón Estate. Raspberry and violet aromas with rose petal, blueberry and mineral notes make this wine. Barco de Piedra is one of the prettiest examples of the elegance and structure of Ribera del Duero, one of the great wine regions of the world.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? Estate-owned small production wine; a singular location in the most prestigous district of Ribera del Duero. The vineyard is located 1.5 km north of the Duero River, 7 km east of the legendary Vega Sicilia and 4 km west of Pesquera. With minimal oak ageing this is a Ribera del Duero wine that shows depth and drinkability while young; an extraordinary value!
RATING HISTORY: 2016 = 92JS, 2014 90 VM; 2013 90IWC; 2012 90RP; 2011 91RP; 2008 90RP
GRAPE: 100% Tempranillo (Tinto Fino). Sustainably grown vines planted in 2000. Tended in clay and limestone soil at 732-975 m (2,400-3,200 ft) elevation
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Pork and veal have an essentially sweet “bass note” that is complimented nicely by Tempranillo's sweet nature, so these meats pair extremely well with Barco de Piedra. Unlike most Riojas, which tend toward softer strawberry and red fruits, Ribera del Dueros are some of the most robust reds from Spain, usually showing a black fruit, mineral and “meaty” character that many people feel is a better match with beef steak than any California Cabernet or Zinfandel. For simple fare, aged hard cheese like manchego, jamon iberico, Spanish almonds, Sevilla olives and crusty bread are exceptional accompaniments for this wine.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: During harvest, the best bunches are selected. After de-stemming and crushing, the unfermented juice mixes with the skins for 2-3 days at cool temperatures. Cold fermentation takes 11 days, and extended post-fermentation maceration is carried out for 8 days. Fermentation and malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged for 4 months in 300-liter 85% French and 15% American oak barrels that are 3 years old.
PRODUCTION: 6,000 cases
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The vineyards of El Quiñón, a single estate of 72 hectares (178 acres), are located in the heart of the western district of Ribera del Duero; 1.5 km north of the Duero River, 7 km east of legendary Vega Sicilia and 4 km west of Pesquera. The soils are 90% limestone and 10% sandy clay near the surface. The cool nights and hot days of this vineyard, located in the western area of Ribera del Duero, result in berries with thicker skins. Nowhere in Spain does Tempranillo show more intensity in aroma and color. Of the two main areas in Ribera, the western area is lower in elevation, has slightly more moderate temperatures and consistent quality because it is not as exposed to frost like the eastern side. Ribera del Duero's cooler nights bestow abundant aromas, vibrant freshness and great expression of fruit.
TASTING NOTES: Heady smoke- and spice-accented dark berry and cherry aromas, with hints of game and violet emerging with air. Broad and fleshy on entry, then tighter in the middle, offering gently sweet blackberry and cherry flavors and repeating smokiness. Shows very good heft and power on the clinging finish, which features smooth tannins and a hint of peppery spices.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold