Monday, December 7, 2020


It's no secret that they make some great wines in Ribero del Duero, Spain.  They are bigger and more robust than the esteemed Rioja and we don't intend to disparage Rioja by saying so.  Rioja remains the Bordeaux of Spain.  It's just that now they have competition from a very healthy and hearty neighbor that is just now getting its due.

Ribero del Duero lies seventy-eight miles to the southwest of Rioja.  Its name reflects the great east-west river which has spawned an entire fine wine industry along its banks.  Ribero del Duero is just one of several wine appellations along that corridor.  If you follow the river westward far enough you end up in Douro Portugal, home to some of the finest apertifs in the world.

Ribero del Duero has been put on the fine wine map recently by Peter Sisseck, a Danish winemaker who relocated to that region in 1990.  He befriended a local winemaker named Pablo Rubio who in turn reached out to local land owners whom he knew owned prime vineyards.  Their pitch went something like this: "If you will stop using chemicals in your vineyards and go organic we will pay for your fruit according to the quality, not just by the weight."  The spiel probably continued with, "We know your fruit can be world class and we intend to market it as such and in return for your efforts to improve your quality we will share the greater profits we intend to get."

Here's what Sisseck and Rubio knew already: The quality of fruit in Ribero del Duero was always there.  The grapes grown there were overwhelmingly old clone, old vine (30 years) Tinto Vino (Tempranillo) vines that were grown as bushes and maintained as such by the labor intensive head pruning method.  All they wanted to do was reverse the chemical damage done to the vineyards.  They were intent on reaching those ends by rewarding the vineyard owners who worked with them.

"Pingus" is a childhood nickname Sisseck had in Denmark and Dominio de Pingus became the name of the winery Sisseck established n 1995.  It is also the name of the first wine produced there.  That wine is currently available for purchase in the $800/btl range.  Flor de Pingus is one of three other estate wines.  It is available in the Atlanta market and retails in the $125 range.  

"Psi" is the Sisseck wine we currently have in the store and it's a $40 retail.  While Pingus and Flor are estate grown wines, Psi most accurately reflects the communal efforts of the growers depicted above.  The 2017 vintage shows a nose of ripe dark berry, black plum, savory sandalwood and spice.  The palate shows strident concentrated black fruit, blueberries, plum and minerality with refined tannins.

Psi is always at least ninety percent Tempranillo with the remainder being mostly Garnacha.  The wine making team believes in a long gentle maceration with an elevage in both small and large barrels along with concrete.  No new oak is ever used.  

Tempranillo is a versatile, food-friendly grape that would marry well with a variety of dishes. The word we have from our supplier is that Psi is indeed amazing.