Master of Wine Doug Frost Visits Houston with Ribera del Duero

Even when he has a cold (as he did today), it's always a thrill to get to taste with Doug Frost (above), Master of Wine and Master Sommelier, one of only three people in the world to hold both titles. Doug was in Houston at the Parador, riffing on Ribera del Duero, one of Spain's emerging fine wine regions and one of the best values in the U.S. today.

Doug guided some of the city's top buyers and wine personalities through a tasting of seven bottlings of Tempranillo (the region's predominant red grape), ranging in retail price from $15 to $200.

One of the most remarkable things about Ribera del Duero (which means literally banks of the Duero river) is "how much variation you find between growing sites," noted Doug; this is one of the hallmarks of the greatest appellations of the world. "Twenty years ago, no one was paying attention to this region," he said. "Today, it's one of the country's most exciting appellations."

In the flight of seven wines, which ranged from the ultra-modern to the rigorously traditional, the wines that impressed me the most were the 2007 Tinto Pesquera by Alejandro Fernandez, a classic expression of this ancient wine-growing region, produced by one of the pioneers who helped to put it on the fine wine map back in the 1980s (nervy acidity, judicious tannin, red and black fruit, and a wonderful menthol note in the finish, around $35), and the 2008 Tinto Roble by Viña Mayor, a light-bodied quaffer, one of those "shut-up-and-give-me-some-food-to-go-with-this great wines," noted Doug (bright red fruit, with nice acidity, just a hint of oak, and a kiss of tanin, under $15).

The tasting was just one of the many Spanish food and wine events for trade and consumers happening this week and next in town. Pass the tapas, please...

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