A while back we got a range of wines new to me from the Ribera del Duero region in Spain and I was intrigued. And as you all know I rather like trying to find my new favourite thing.
The wines in question are from Finca La Capilla and can be found in the picturesque town of Roa de Duero, the nerve centre of the Designation of Origin. And if you are in any doubt as to the wine-making provenance of the area, it is home to some iconic wineries including Bodega Tinto Pesquera, Vega Sicilia and Dominio de Pingus.
Now under the proud ownership of family-owned Rioja powerhouse Marques de Caceres, the winery produces three wines, two reds and a white that focus on the typicity and elegance of the region.
First up is their exceptional white wine La Capilla Rueda Blanco (£17.99 at Fine Wine Direct UK). This is the perfect wine to highlight the skill of the winemaker with the bringing together two different varieties, Verdejo and Sauvignon Blanc from low yielding vines near the towns of Serrada and La Seca.
After careful selection the grapes are divided between new 225 and 500 litre French oak barrels and 1,700 litre capacity concrete eggs. Aging on the fine lees continues for about six months before blending into the finished wine.
Production is limited to just under 8,000 bottles, so get them while you can.
The resulting wine has the merest whisper of oak on the nose which adds texture to the elegant floral and stone fruit notes. On the palate the wine almost caresses the tastebuds with a gentle mineral hit and opulent white fruits that lead to a long, but refreshing finish. A great all-rounder, which would happily sit alongside poultry, white meats, fish and pasta dishes.
I have to admit I’ve been banging on about the next wine for anyone who’ll listen for ages now and it was my wine of the year in 2022.
The La Capilla Crianza (£21.99 at Fine Wine Direct UK) is mainly made up of tempranillo – or Tinto del Pais as it is called in this region – but with the climate and soil differences here in Ribera del Duero, the wine is so different to the tempranillo found further north in Rioja.
There is almost a tension to the fruit making it the ideal partner for the finer texture of French oak, which is the main choice of barrel in this region.
Manual harvesting, in small lots, parcel by parcel coupled with the short distance to the Bodega allows for a swift transfer to the fermentation tanks with no warming of the grapes or oxidation of the must. The wine has around 14 months in new and one-year-old French barrels and a further year and a half to two years in bottle.
The result is a wine that shows fine toasted notes to the silky dark fruits, sitting alongside, but never masking the vivacious berry character. In the mouth the tannins are present but fully integrated, the small amount of merlot in the blend adds a juiciness and subtlety to the mid palate and the alcohol is delivered so very politely.
It will age for several years I’m sure, but the temptation may be too much for some – especially me.
Having enjoyed many a glass of the fine Crianza, I thought it was time to crack open a bottle of its big brother, La Capilla Vendimia Seleccionada (£29.99 at Fine Wine Direct UK). I am very happy to report that I wasn’t disappointed.
Manual harvest pick out cluster by cluster from each plant to small crates which are then placed on the sorting table after some time in cold storage. They are then deposited into small tanks to preserve the selection from each vineyard. The wine undergoes 15 months aging in new and one-year-old French oak and almost two years in bottle.
First thing I did was give it a double decant*
The glorious aromas of black fruits combine with spicy liquorice notes and a touch of cedarwood. In the mouth you brace yourself for the powerful onslaught, however, the juicy acidity that greets the palate is both surprising and enlivening.
That’s not to say that this wine is a shrinking violet – it isn’t – and it carries plenty of rich, integrated tannins that sit alongside the ripe, vibrant black fruits. The mile-long balanced finish completes the package in this super rare drop of Ribera.
*If you have a Pyrex glass jug handy – you won’t get any residual smell or flavour from the borosilicate glass – slowly pour the wine into it and let it breathe for at least five minutes or so, if you can wait that long and then return it to the bottle. You’re then ready to pour.